Senators' mission far from complete

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

They knocked out the champs, but this isn't boxing.

You don't step over the body and take the champ's belt. There are three more rounds to go, each tougher than the last.

There will be a new Stanley Cup champion this year after the Senators showed the Lightning the door in five games.

Do the Senators have what it takes to grasp the now vacant title?

In the mind of Tampa's Martin St. Louis, who knows a thing or two about winning the Cup, it is not a question the Lightning can answer on the Senators' behalf.

"They've got to figure that out for themselves, if they have what it takes," said St. Louis, as the little dynamo stuffed his equipment into a bag minutes after having his season ended by Ottawa.

"You take each step. You get by the first round and you get into the second and you find out more and more about your team the farther you go. They've been close before. I think they know what it takes."

Tampa's Tim Taylor, stitches in his nose after Game 5, knows what it takes.

He's the type of guy who has taken the sticks and punches in the face on the way to winning two Stanley Cups.

Do the Senators have what it takes from what he saw in the first round?

"They have to play 60 minutes like they did (Saturday) night," said Taylor. "If you're going to win a championship, you can't have injuries. The power play has to be going, you have to be able to win on the road. But the biggest thing, I would say, is you can't have injuries."

Taylor said he wondered about the quality of the Senators' goaltending before the series with rookie Ray Emery taking over from the other guy.

So did everybody else.

Taylor even tried to stir things up by taking the puck at the end of Game 1 as Emery's teammates scrambled to get it as a souvenir of Emery's first playoff victory.

TRASH TALK

Taylor told the Sun he threw the puck in the garbage, a big mind game, but kept it and gave it to Emery after the Bolts were eliminated. Turns out Emery isn't much of a souvenir collector and gave the puck to a kid as he went off the ice.

"Emery came in and played very, very well for them. The other guy goes down, he comes in and we thought he was the weak link. Obviously, he's not," said Taylor.

St. Louis, Taylor and Tampa defenceman Dan Boyle all agreed the Senators' greatest strength is their depth.

"We don't get to see the teams in the West too often, but as far as the East is concerned, with their four lines, I don't think there's a better team offensively," said Boyle. "Then they've got guys like (Zdeno) Chara and (Wade) Redden (on defence). It seemed like any time there was a battle in the corner, 75% of the time they were coming out with it. That was the difference."

The Lightning carried the play to the Senators for good stretches during the series. They outshot the Senators 171-156, but Ottawa outscored Tampa 13-8 in even-strength situations and dominated them on the power play, outscoring the Bolts 8-4 and added a short-handed goal.

"Special teams were big in this series. They dominated us on those," said Taylor.

MAXIMUM EFFORT

"Our special teams didn't get it done and theirs did," said St. Louis.

The challenge moving on from here is for the Senators, like Taylor said, to find a way to come up with their maximum effort on a more consistent basis. The Senators ousted the defending champions playing very well, part of the time.

You can look at that two ways. It's a negative in that as the competition escalates in the playoffs, mediocre shifts become more of a liability. You're playing better teams and players and they can take more of an advantage of a lull in intensity.

Or, it's a positive at this point in that the Senators have a series win under their belt and know they can play better.


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