Getting to the Stanley Cup final was supposed to be a dream come true for the Senators.
It has turned into a nightmare.
As their charter touched down at MacDonald-Cartier Airport last night, the Senators were carrying plenty of baggage after going winless in two games against the Anaheim Ducks.
Now, the team faces the mountainous task of trying to overcome a 2-0 deficit and achieve what only one Stanley Cup-winning team has ever accomplished.
In the 30 occurances in which the home team has won the first two games of the final, they've gone on to win the Cup 29 times. The exception: The 1971 Chicago Blackhawks, who ended up losing to the Montreal Canadiens.
With apologies to Senators coach Bryan Murray -- a man who can't stand all these history lessons but is going to get another -- the club is 0-5 when they're down 2-0 in a playoff series and they haven't shown anything that indicates this will be the exception.
The good news for Canada's team, however, is it will have the crowd on its side in Game 3.
"We're going home and we've played well there," said Senators defenceman Wade Redden.
Yes, the Senators will be back at Scotiabank Place tomorrow and the house will be rockin' with the 20,000-plus fans, but it will be all for naught if they continue to get beaten by a better team.
The Senators are being tossed aside in every aspect of the game. They've been outplayed physically, been beaten along the boards and J.S. Giguere has come up with huge stops during two long 5-on-3 power plays -- once in Game 1 and again in Game 2.
So, what's the Senators' answer to getting back on track?
"I guess you can look at it all," said Redden. "I guess you've just got to break it down and the first place to start is by winning those one-on-one battles. That's kind of the rule. We have to simplify the game and just try to focus on being better.
"We have to be harder on the puck and when we do get the puck, we've got to keep it and not give it back to them. Whether it's making a pass, or getting it deep, or not getting it out of the zone, or not giving them those second and third chances to attack us. That's what tires us out and then, at the end of the game, there's nothing left to help us mount a comeback."
As the media gathered at an NHL post-game party in Anaheim late Wednesday, the only reporters and broadcasters surprised by the result were the ones from Eastern Canada. Those who have been observing the Western Conference have seen this from the Ducks all season.
One writer, who mostly covers the West for a Toronto-based newspaper, asked in a column before the series started: "When did Ottawa suddenly become the favourites to win the Stanley Cup?"
I guess we should either be paying attention to what's happening out West or, at the very least, have more respect for those teams.
The Senators certainly aren't dead yet, but they've used up their allotment of excuses after two straight road losses.
Bad ice and bad officials were the reason the club lost 3-2 in Game 1. After Game 2 they were a little more humble, but how could you deflect the blame in any way, shape or form when your team comes up with a mere 16 shots on goal?
"They're playing well. For some reason, we're playing different than we were the rest of the playoffs," said Senators defenceman Joe Corvo.
"We just have to find a way to get the feeling back that we're going to win and just get a game at this point."
Getting to the final was a big accomplishment for the organization and tomorrow will mark the first Stanley Cup game in Ottawa in 80 years.
Surely, the Senators can dig down deep enough to at least put up a fight.