I do not know what you saw in the Senators/Maple Leafs battle Saturday night, but I for one saw a playoff caliber game. Here are several reasons why:
1. The “Underdog” won. When you think of Ottawa and Toronto on the same sheet of ice, you mind likely goes to history. Since the Lockout, Ottawa has been a powerhouse who has won 17-of-27 meetings since the Lockout. You contemplate dominance. For the Senators, that was not tonight.
2. HITS! There were 62 hits in this game. And Toronto out-hit Ottawa in every period. (There are going to be a lot of ice bags in use tonight.)
3. There was disbelief on faces from the Ottawa bench, followed by anger on the ice, and then, resignation back on the bench again. This range of emotions were present, a microcosm of, for some, several days in their life of sanity and drama, all rolled up into three hours. It is why some play, and why some cannot. And Hockey Night In Canada captured it well.
4. And kudos to Toronto netminder VESA TOSKALA who, in case you missed it, attempted to make a shot on the empty Ottawa net and be the first goalie in a long time to notch a goal. It was knocked down by an Ottawa defender near the blueline and a re-attack on the Maple Leafs was launched. (That would have been 100 points in my Hockey pool!)
The only issue here is that Ottawa is likely not going to make it to the post-season for the first time since the Lockout, and Toronto has a fringe chance of going to that show. But this is why Hockey is such an awesome sport - there are times when the standings do not matter one lick and this was one of them. One of the more expensive tickets-per-seat in the NHL, I would offer nobody left thinking they didn't get their money's worth. I watched it via CenterIce Online and it is the kind of game that made the annual investment worthwhile.
I say play it again, Sam…