Win or lose, when you've finished competing in a Stanley Cup final, you have to walk away and say to yourself: "We did everything we could ... and then some."
Through the first two games of the 2007 Stanley Cup final, that is not a claim the Ottawa Senators can make.
Truth be told, I've been a bit surprised that Ottawa has not come out with more authority.
I'll give them the benefit of a doubt for Game 1 after their lengthy layoff between series. But Game 2? You can't expect to win if you don't generate more offence than the Sens did in their 1-0 loss, a defeat that leaves them down 2-0 in games as the series shifts to Game 3 in Ottawa tomorrow.
It's a game the Sens must win. There are no ifs, ands or buts here.
Ottawa is very capable of winning at home, sure. And I know it's easy to say the Sens must take it one game at a time.
Having said that, I wouldn't want to be down 3-0 in this series.
Simply put, Ottawa needs to come out with desperation, a trait they haven't really shown thus far in the series.
If they don't start now, it might be too late.
People do not understand how difficult it is just to get to the Stanley Cup final these days. All you have to do is look at the two teams who appeared in the final a year ago, the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers.
One season later, neither team managed to reach the playoffs. That should be a wakeup call of how hard the road to the final has become.
Having been to the final four times myself, I know how important it is to hold nothing back.
The Ducks have subscribed to that recipe. They have started games strong, thanks in part to their two stud defencemen, Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer.
In previous columns I have identified how this blueline duo gives the Ducks an edge on the back end. The Sens are learning that first-hand.
Pronger's leadership skills are really on display in this series, both on and off the ice. It's unfortunate that he left Edmonton but give the Ducks credit for going out and trading for him.
Of course, everyone expected this type of thing from Pronger and Niedermayer.
But the real eyeopener for most fans has to be the play of the Ducks' supporting cast up front. The fact that Travis Moen and Sami Pahlsson have scored the winning goals in the first two games pretty much says it all.
Back when I was behind the bench of the Boston Bruins, I had the opportunity to coach Pahlsson. He was a really young guy back then and it's easy for me to see how much he has improved since that time.
Getting production from your supporting cast is vital this time of year.
Back in 1994 when I won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, that's exactly what we got from our so-called checking line of Craig MacTavish, Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan. Matteau, if you recall, scored the series-winning overtime goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final for us against the New Jersey Devils, putting us in the Cup final against the Vancouver Canucks.
When people contribute offensively down the line like that, it gives everyone on the team a boost.
After scoring just three times in the first two games, that's a lesson the Sens must learn.
Otherwise, a series that many of us thought would be a long one, well, won't be.
If that happens, the Sens will have a long summer to think about "what might have been."