Spelling out win

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Paul Ryan has a reminder for the reeling Senators, two words he's convinced can get them back on the victory track.

Character wins.

It's a mantra the huge Senators fan has been preaching all the way back to November, when the team was struggling and had some calling for the heads of coach Bryan Murray and GM John Muckler.

Ryan is such a believer in the phrase that, letter by letter, he's been posting it on the wall behind the bar at Big Daddy's Crabshack on Elgin St., where he works as a manager.

"Right now, I'm at 'character'," he said yesterday. "There's four letters left to go ... four wins in the Stanley Cup final."

Down 2-0 against the Anaheim Ducks, the Sens have some serious work to do to get Ryan those four letters. But he's not about to lose faith.

"Throughout the playoffs, this has been the team that didn't uphold all the old taboos about them," said Ryan. "If any team can do it, it's this team.

"I'm as confident as anybody can be when they're down 2-0."

DARKER DAYS

He's certainly seen darker days this season. And Ryan took plenty of ribbing about the Sens' early season woes from his co-workers, most of whom are Canadiens or Maple Leafs fans.

But when the Sens scored a clutch 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres to halt the skid, Ryan began his "character win" countdown. From that point on, he and bartender Danny Savard decided when a victory was worthy of a letter.

As the Sens marched closer to the final, Ryan's co-workers had to admit he might be on to something.

"I have to take my hat off right now to Pauly," said Savard. "If they (win the Cup) now, he really does look like a genius."

Ryan, like any true diehard fan, believed all along. He's got his wife, Amanda, and two-year-old son, Cooper, on board, too.

"I was always telling people this is a good team, this team is different," said Ryan. "I knew if they could string enough character wins together, they'd be a real team going into the playoffs, the team we've always wanted them to be."

He's got tickets for Game 6 and yes, Ryan is certain he'll get to use them.

"Anaheim did what it had to do on home ice," he said. "Now the pressure is definitely on Ottawa. But until they lose at home, it's going to go seven games ... that's the philosophy, that's the hope, right?"


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