The Ottawa Senators played two, almost, perfect road games in the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I say almost perfect because while they won game 1 in overtime, they lost game 2 on a single goal by angry Phil Kessel.
Their style of play leaves a lot to desire. It is a no nonsense, defence first system that leaves fans, wanting goals and exciting play, yawning at the lack of action. While we all like to see goals galore, in the playoffs, style points don't mean anything, especially in the playoffs. You do what you have to do and ignore the critics.
Against the favourite and much more talented team, that features Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel, the Senators need to do whatever it takes to win. That means trying to win 1-0 every game.
The Penguins were clearly frustrated, in particular Phil Kessel. The winger, in a rare show of emotion, vented his frustrations at linemate, Evgeni Malkin, for not moving the puck quick enough. He eventually balled up all that anger and scored the only goal of game 2 as the Penguins evened up the series at one a piece.
That isn't to say the Senators aren't capable of playing a more uptempo style. Every team in the league can play at a fast pace. It's just a matter of if they can win that way. The thing is, the Senators have been involved some exciting games in these playoffs, including a couple of come from behind overtime wins, where there were goals and more goals.
The fear, of course, is that if the Senators end up winning the Stanley Cup playing a more defence first style, more teams will follow, much like how teams copied the New Jersey Devils when they won their Cup in 1995. It took quite a while before the league recovered from the dead puck era as it was known. So, while I hope the Sens can bring home the Cup, I wouldn't want to see the league, already struggling for goals, to come back to that dark period.