Craig Custance chats with rival scouts and players to break down the strengths and weaknesses of the Ottawa Senators.
It was a great scene captured by the Senators' team website camera crew. On the night they clinched a playoff spot with an overtime win over the Washington Capitals, the camera followed the players off the ice. Defenseman Chris Phillips stood at the edge of the ice, high-fiving every single player as they left the ice, telling one of them, "Nice season, boys."
What a season it was. No team was hit harder by injuries than the Senators. And no team showed more resiliency than this group.
It's also what makes them so hard to project in the postseason. They don't have the same high-end talent and depth as some of the other Eastern Conference contenders, and their best player, Erik Karlsson, is coming off a major injury.
If the regular season showed anything, it's that underestimating the Senators is a mistake. It's probably safe to say that goes for the playoffs too.
KEY STRENGTH: The Senators have a clear identity and understanding of how they need to play to be successful.
"They play a pretty simple game. Everybody knows what type of game they're playing," said an Eastern Conference defenseman. "It's just pucks to the net. Bodies to the net. Very few turnovers. It's a tough, tough system to defend against because you're constantly having to battle going to the net. There's not a lot of transition when there's not a lot of turnovers. They know what type of team they are and they play to that. They don't give up a whole lot."