Lehner Shines, Sens Advance to Round 2

2021-06-24

It's a great day in Ottawa, as the Senators Regular Season of historic progress was followed by a 5-game series win over the Boston Bruins in Round 1. The Senators will move on to Round 2, but things werent always running smoothly in Canada's capital.

Ottawa finished the 2019-2020 regular season 2nd last in the EHE, with 67 PTS (30-45-7). What makes the Sens turnaround so historic? Well, Ottawa made an eye-popping 50 point leap, finishing 2020-2021 as the Regular Season Lemieux Conference Champions with 117 PTS (55-20-7). The Senators single-season turnaround may go down as the greatest in EHE history. Thomas Gidlow's 2017-2018 takeover in Chicago which saw the Blackhawks make a 44 point jump from 2016-2017 (31-47-4), to 2017-2018 with 110 PTS (53-25-4) certainly deserves recognition as well. For arguments sake, readers are encouraged to drop any other candidates in the comment section.

One constant in Ottawa remained despite so much change, Anthony Cirelli was named team MVP for a second-straight season . The two-way horse followed up his 2020 Calder Trophy season on a losing squad (30G-30A-60PTS), with an encore performance in 2021 (38G-49A-87PTS). Linemate Mikeal Granlund (30G-44A-74PTS) was the Sens other most consistent scorer all year, while JG Pageau (23-37-60), and Josh Bailey (21G,39A,60PTS) also carried the load offensively. Franchise leader in Assists, Games Played, and Plus Minus Keith Yandle returned to Ottawa with a bang, notching 11G-55A-66PTS. Between the pipes, Robin Lehner ruled the crease, amassing a record of 33-16-5 with a 0.910% and a 2.68 GAA. Bench boss Barry Trotz lead the progression with more weapons at his disposal. The Dauphin Manitoba native deserves definite coach of the year consideration.

In-season acquisitions like Ryan O'Reilly, Tomas Tatar, Erik Karlsson, and James Van Riemsdyk played less games, but proved to be valuable additions enroute to a strong Regular Season finish. All in all, 19 of 22 roster players on Ottawa were either offseason or in-season acquisitions, with Anthony Cirelli, Jared McCan, and Nick Paul being the only exceptions. The massive change was brought about by Senators GM Cole Bates, who cultivated the turnaround through a flurry of calculated moves. Ottawa's red hot start gave the players a high level of confidence, and mangement instilled more faith in the team by making more additions to the club.

Fast-forward to Round 1 of the EHE Playoffs, where Ottawa now patiently awaits Round 2, after finishing off the Bruins in 5 games. Although the series didn't last long, it wasn't an easy one for Ottawa, with 3 of 5 games going to OT. Robin Lehner stole the show, going 4-0-1 with a 0.939% and a 1.89 GAA despite Ottawa being outshot in 4 of the 5 games. The 6ft4 Swedish netminder struggled at times this season but progressed down the stretch, and seems to have found another gear in the post season. Sens brass reportedly placed several screen shots of hockey fans "talking shit" about Lehner via Twitter inside his stall, in an effort to light a fire under the Goaltenders ass.

Anthony Cirelli is doing what he does best, leading the charge offensively for Ottawa, with 2G,6A,8PTS. JG Pageau put up 4G, 1A, and 5PTS, including a crucial 2 goals in game 1. Sens all time Assists, Games Played, and Plus Minus leader Keith Yandle's clutch game 4 overtime goal was a significant series turning point. The Veteran Defenseman's game winning goal, made the series 3-1, with games 2,3,and 4 having all went to OT.Team defense was lead by Ottawa's 4 headed monster up the middle with O'Reilly, Cirelli, Pageau, and Backlund helping limit production from the likes of Eichel, Malkin, Tkachuk, Mantha, Gallagher, and Brown.

Notorious Sens Owner Eugene Melnyk just had to chime in on the teams success, announcing a new playoff home game giveways at the Canadian Tire Centre, dubbed "Free Dogs on Fridays". The charitable generosity came as a shock to many, before it was revealed the third party Hot Dog company involved is provinding the full cost of the venture for marketing purposes, including a royalty fee of 5% to the Senators.

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk breaks silence, details plan for club's future  - Article - Bardown

Going forward, Ottawa will look to get some of it's other scorers going in Round 2, with hopes that Robin Lehner can continue his dominance. The layoff will serve as valuable rest, and The Sens best be ready, as the road ahead wont get any easier from here.

Good luck to the rest of teams competing in Round 1!
 
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Thomas Gidlow

I have to give it to you sir - definitely the most impressive turnaround I believe. Who can forget the #30to1 campaign (i fell just short lol) of 2017-18, but the 2020-21 Sens probably take the cake. Excellent work Batesy!

Lehner Shines, Sens Advance to Round 2
Lemieux Conference champs follow up historic turnaround season with Round 1 win.

• 1 teams Like this  3 months
Shaun Stephens I shall second that....you took a lot of heat for 30 to 1 but it was close that year!
3 months  1 teams Like this