(Forward Colin Greening, a native of St. John's, Newfoundland, who saw 24 games worth of duty with the Ottawa Senators this season, is back in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators for the Calder Cup playoffs. He'll provide some insights in a series of blog posts for OttawaSenators.com).
I don’t think a lot of people have gone through what we just did against Manchester, with all the overtime games in our playoff series. I’ve tried to explain to people over the phone the last couple of days exactly what happened and words don’t do it justice, the emotional rollercoaster that you go through in a situation like that. You think about five overtime games in a series — four of which we won — and it’s something I’ll always remember. We’re only the second AHL team to ever do that, so it’s kind of nice to etch our games in the record books.
Coach also told us right after the game that we were the first AHL team ever to win Game 5, Game 6 and Game 7 in a series in overtime. He gave us the post-game speech and he had a little add on, saying that we made history. That was pretty cool. Bu as exciting as the first round against Manchester was for us, one of the biggest messages we’ve had all year is you take it for what it is and you enjoy the moment. Once the next day comes, you realize what’s ahead and we’ve got a really good team in Portland up next for us to play.
The way we were able to keep our series going just shows our resiliency and I think it speaks volumes about the group of guys we have in here as well. From Day 1, everybody realized we had a good group of guys that got along, that worked well in the dressing room and had good chemistry. I think that really bodes well for us in the playoffs and we just showed that. Being down 3-1 in a series, it would have been easy to pack it in and realize that even if you win Game 5, you’ve still got to win Game 6 and Game 7 on the road and that’s a tough task. But it really speaks volumes about the character in the dressing room that we were still able to do it.
Even when we were behind, we just never gave up. In Game 7, we were down with two minutes to go and in Game 5, we were down with five minutes to go and yet there was no panic on the bench. Everyone just kept playing and we realized we were playing well. That helped our confidence and we knew it was only a matter of time before we would tie it up. Then we realized, when we went into overtime, that we had a good chance to win.
When we got home early Sunday morning, we saw the fans had decorated the outside of the arena with a bunch of signs. That was a nice thing to see, people showing that kind of sentiment when you come in at 5 a.m. From what I understand, a number of guys on the team have had people in town come up to them and express their gratitude. Everyone was happy when we made the playoffs and now I think people are ecstatic that we’ve made it through to the second round. Hopefully, we can make them even happier by getting to the third round.
Now we have to shift our focus to Portland and I don’t think it’s going to be difficult. Everybody realizes that this is what the playoffs are all about. You get through a tough series against Manchester and now you’ve got to focus on Portland or you’re going to crumble. I think everyone, even from the beginning of today’s practice, was really focusing on who their players are, what systems they play and I think that’s the key. Everyone realizes that and we’ll put all our efforts into facing Portland.
The playoffs are a grind, but everyone’s taking care of themselves the best they can. You could say we’re tired and things like that, but other teams are in the same situation as us. So that really can’t be an excuse. Portland had a really tough six-game series against Connecticut and the difference between six games and seven is really negligible. You can’t really focus on that and you just play. The best part of playoffs and we know our systems and we don’t have to practise much. We just go out there and play.
Consistency is going to be the most important thing for us against Portland. We had some lapses in the last series in the second period and that’s come back to bite us when we lost games. Portland is going to be a tougher test for us. They beat Connecticut for a reason; they’re an extremely talented team. We’ve just got to focus on that and make sure we’re consistently playing our game throughout the entire game.