The Senators have put themselves in a great position to advance to the second round of the playoffs by winning a huge game Saturday night in which Craig Anderson outduelled the NHLís top goaltender in the regular season, Henrik Lundqvist, in a thrilling 2-0 victory.
The regular season compared to the playoffs ... wow, what a difference!
What makes the NHL post-season so much better and so much more exciting to watch?
The answer is simple.
With an 82-game regular season, itís humanly impossible for teams and players to play as hard as they do in the playoffs.
Players put it all on the line every night in the playoffs. Guys who normally donít block shots block shots; guys who donít finish their checks finish their checks.
The playoffs quite simply is the time of year when all teams must elevate their game to the next level if they want to have any kind of success.
The Senators and Rangers have both played their hearts out and while the underdogs have put themselves in a nice position, itís far from over.
Many people, though, are surprised by the eighth-seeded Senators going toe-to-toe with the top team in the Eastern Conference.
There are a few reasons the Senators are on the verge of clinching the series.
The biggest is that they are beating the Rangers at their own game.
While Lundqvist should win the Vezina Trophy for his outstanding regular season, Anderson has been the better goalie over the past five games.
Lundqvist routinely stole games for New York during the regular season and when you play against a goalie like that, it can be frustrating and get into your head.
But now the shoe appears to be on the other foot.
It is the Rangers who seem rattled and are openly crediting Anderson as the reason the Senators are leading 3-2 in the series.
During the regular season, the Blueshirts played a tight defensive system and refused to be outworked. They would grind down more skilled teams with relentless work in the corners and dirty zones all over the ice.
Few NHL teams are able to maintain that high work ethic the entire season.
The Rangers did so largely because John Tortorella is such a demanding coach, and were rewarded with first place in the East.
The Senators were a good team, but inconsistency landed them in eighth.
But in the playoffs, the Senators have picked up their intensity and are now doing all the little things that made New York such a tough team to play against all season long.
The Senators have ďout-RangeredĒ the Rangers.
They havenít won anything yet, but by taking a page out of the Eastern Conference championís book, the Senators are a lot closer to advancing to the second round than many people ever thought theyíd get.