Sens 'doggin' it
Rangers are overwhelming favourites, just ask Alfie and the boys
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Captain Daniel Alfreddson says the Senators are underdogs in their first-round playoff series with the Rangers. (Tony Caldwell, QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA - It didn’t take long for the Senators to play the underdog card.
Pressure? What pressure?
That’s all on the heavily favoured, No. 1-ranked Rangers as the Senators went back to work Monday with a one-hour practice in preparation for Game 1 of their Eastern quarter-final Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Asked if the Senators were “the overwhelming underdogs” going into this series, captain Daniel Alfredsson was on board.
“I think so,” said Alfredsson. “I mean, they finished first in the conference. We finished eighth. That kind of explains itself. But we all know upsets happen as well. We know we’re going to have to play our best to win a seven-game series against them.
“We’re not going to get away with playing a sloppy game. We’re going to have to be disciplined with the puck and by staying out of the penalty box for us to have a chance, but it’s going to be a fun challenge.”
After wrapping up the regular season with a loss to the Devils Saturday, the Senators got the playoff matchup they wanted in the first round after everything fell into place with Washington and Florida winning their final games.
The Senators were on a collision course with the Bruins for the final month of the season, but fell into the No. 8 spot by the time the dust settled. Ottawa was 1-5 vs. Boston and 3-1 vs. New York.
“We battled all year long to get to where we are. It didn’t really matter who we were going to play,” said goalie Craig Anderson. “We just need to look forward. What happened in the past and in the regular season doesn’t matter now.
“Everybody starts fresh. It is the race to four wins and we’ve got to make sure that (we’re ready). We’ve got nothing to lose. We play loose. We play like a bunch of young kids that just go out there and have fun.”
The talk has to turn to action for the Senators.
They won just seven of their last 17 games going into the post-season and closed out the campaign on a three-game losing streak. The Senators have to get back to what made them successful: Hard work.
“It’s a brand new season,” said coach Paul MacLean. “Everything that happened over the 82 games doesn’t really matter. You erase everything. It starts with Game 1. The first goal, first shift, is how the momentum starts to swing.
“It’s whoever can handle the momentum. (The Rangers) are a really good team. They were the best team in the East, so they are going to be a handful.”
MacLean said the Senators have to be better than the way they finished the season.
“The team that played the last three games I didn’t like at all,” said MacLean.
They cannot rely on the Rangers taking them lightly.
“We respect their team a lot. There’s no question. They are a team that’s not going to give you much offensively,” said Alfredsson. “They help their goalie out a lot by blocking shots and taking away second chances.
“We’ve played pretty good against them and we know it’s been close games. We also know that we can beat them, but we’re going to have to play our best because they’ve shown they’re one of the best teams in the league throughout 82 games.”
Spoken like a true underdog.
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