Well… for the 4th straight season, the Ottawa Senators did not qualify for the NHL Playoffs. Despite playing great in the latter half of the season, there weren’t enough games left for the Sens to make a playoff push. Therefore, welcome to the third edition of this series, where I have once again created a list of teams Sens fans can cheer for either based on former players or other factors. Enjoy!
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Nick Foligno||Jason Spezza||Alex Galchenyuk||Scott Sabourin|
|Edmonton Oilers||Alex Chiasson||Kyle Turris|
|Winnipeg Jets||Dylan DeMelo|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Cedric Paquette|
|Nashville Predators||Matt Duchene||Erik Gudbranson||Ben Harpur|
|Florida Panthers||Chris Driedger||Anthony Duclair|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Freddy Claesson|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Cody Ceci|
|New York Islanders||Braydon Coburn||Jean-Gabriel Pageau|
|Washington Capitals||Craig Anderson||Zdeno Chara|
|Boston Bruins||Curtis Lazar||Mike Reilly|
|St. Louis Blues||Mike Hoffman|
|Vegas Golden Knights||Robin Lehner||Mark Stone|
|Minnesota Wild||Andrew Hammond|
If you’re a fan that chooses their playoff team based on former players, then you’re in luck. 14 of the 16 teams have at least one former Sens player on the roster. However, if you’re going to cheer for Toronto just because they have 4 former Sens players, then I must question the authenticity of your Sens fandom.
There are many former fan favourites scattered around the playoffs. Mark Stone will be trying to lead his Vegas team to another Cup Final, while Pageau will be attempting to avenge the 2017 Senators by eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins (who happen to have Cody Ceci). Craig Anderson has a new team in the Washington Capitals, and he will try to do his part in eliminating Mike Reilly and Curtis Lazar. Like I said, there are so many options on the table that one can’t go wrong in picking a playoff team to support (other than the Leafs).
Speaking of those Leafs, the Toronto vs Montreal first-round matchup will be the main event for Senators fans. How often do we get two of our rivals facing each other in the playoffs? This is the biggest win-win situation for Sens fans. If the Leafs lose, then Sens fans get to laugh at the Leafs for not having a playoff series win since 2003. If Montreal ends up losing, well, Sens fans can laugh at Habs fans for ruining their own future by making the playoffs 2 years in a row when they desperately needed 2 high-end prospects in the draft. Although it is a win-win situation, I believe Sens fans should be leaning towards cheering for the Habs in the first round because the Leafs being eliminated in the first round after the season they had would be the funniest thing anyone could think of.
Two teams have no former Sens players on the roster: Montreal and Colorado. As Montreal has already been covered, the focus is on the Colorado Avalanche. This high flying team won the President’s Trophy this season and came first in the league in goals (197) and third in the league for least goals against (133). If you’re a fan of curses being broken, Colorado is the team for you. They won the President’s Trophy, so they now have the President’s Trophy Curse. This team is expected to go far but has a tough path in front of them. Every game they play should be electric and fantastic hockey to watch.
Teams to avoid
Last season, “Teams to avoid” didn’t appear in the article because there were too many weird factors involved, such as the play-in tournament and the draft lottery process. However, this season has made this section as easy as it can be. It’s no secret that a Canadian NHL team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since the 1992-1993 season (before Americans gloat, I must remind them to check their team’s rosters and see which nationality dominates). It’s been 28 years since a Canadian team has won the cup. This means, whichever Canadian team wins the cup first, will become the ultimate saviour to Canada and will own every bragging right possible. Therefore, the Ottawa Senators must win the Cup first, and since they aren’t in the playoffs this season, it is imperative that no Canadian team wins it this season. This will be harder than it sounds because one Canadian team has a guaranteed spot in the Conference Final. So Sens fans MUST be cheering against Canadian teams from the Conference Final onwards because there is no such thing as “Canada’s Team.”
The Ottawa Senators missed the playoffs once again, but the way they ended their season has given us hope for next year and also has granted us permission to watch the playoffs this year without feeling too bad. I hope this guide has helped you choose a team to follow in the 2021 Playoffs, and I hope that I won’t have to write this article next season.
If you are interested in an in-depth playoff preview, check out this video we did with Sens Talk: