Sens-ible choice for Canada's team

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

And then there was one?

There's a good chance that, by the time you read this, Canada's hopes for an elusive Stanley Cup triumph will be down to a single hope. And probably not the one a lot of folks imagined when the post-season dance began.

Yes, folks, the Ottawa Senators are alive and kicking, and one victory away from reaching the Eastern Conference final for the second time in franchise history. If the Anaheim Ducks ousted the Vancouver Canucks last night, the Sens would grab that unofficial title of Canada's team for the rest of these playoffs.

Are Canadians ready to embrace a team from the nation's capital?

"I think they will," said CBC's Elliotte Friedman, part of Hockey Night in Canada's team covering the Senators for the first two rounds of the playoffs.

"It has been 14 years since someone in this country has won the Stanley Cup (Montreal, in 1993). This country embraced Calgary (in 2004). This country embraced Edmonton (last year). The people in Canada badly want to see a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup."

Friedman points toward the team's lineup, which is dotted with players who hail from a wide range of Canadian towns. "There's a real significant likability factor on this team. Every part of the country has somebody on that team to root for. That will be a factor as they continue to go on. And they play a pretty good brand of hockey to watch."

Is this the team to end Canada's drought? Friedman and his HNIC colleagues think they have a chance.

"Bob (Cole) and Greg (Millen) and I were saying after Game 5 against the Penguins that it was the best series we'd ever seen them play," he said.

"They'd never looked this good so far in the playoffs. But if they can close out New Jersey in five, that would be even more impressive."

PUCK DROPPINGS: Though it doesn't have access to Canadian teams, TSN continues to post strong playoff numbers. Game 4 of the San Jose-Detroit game on Wednesday night attracted an average audience of 557,000. The network's second-round average -- which has been boosted by the Sabres-Rangers series -- stands at 563,000, a gain of 21% over last season ... CBC pulled in 1.394 million viewers for Game 4 of the Sens-Devils series.

AROUND THE DIAL: Telelatino has extended its Canadian TV rights for Italian Serie A soccer matches through 2010. The deal includes selected English-language programming from AC Milan TV.


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