(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 think everyone is really excited about the fact we’ve now reached the Eastern Conference final, where we're going to face the Charlotte Checkers. Everyone realizes we haven’t been here since 2003, so it’s a big deal for the organization as well as for us. When you think back, in the first round against Manchester, we had to come back from being down 3-1 and then we had a hard-fought series with Portland. We’ve achieved a lot in the playoffs, but I think everyone’s really excited to achieve a lot more.
We’ve had a few days off since beating Portland on Friday night and it’s been huge for us. Someone like Eric Gryba (who has been sidelined by injury for nearly two months), he’s told us he’s coming back and it’s also good for some of the other injured guys. Two days off has been especially helpful, especially for the guys who have played a lot of games this year. It’s always nice to rest your body a little bit and I know some guys were able to go home or go visit their old schools. That gives you a little mental break as well, which is important.
It looks like we might be flying to Charlotte but if we have to bus down there, then so be it. You look at Portland, that was a seven-hour bus trip, so we’re used to getting on the bus and being there for a long time. It’s tough sometimes, but you also bond a little more when you’re on the bus that long. You’re cracking jokes with the guys and it’s always nice to hang out. But if we can fly, I think guys will be pretty happy about that as well.
Manchester and Portland were two teams we didn’t see a lot of during the regular season, so it took until the playoffs to build up some animosity between us. With this series, we’ve already played against Charlotte eight times during the season, so we’re pretty familiar with their coaching staff, their goaltending, their defence and their forwards. I think it’s just going to be a continuation of what we saw during the regular season. They’re a very skilled team, a really hard-nosed team and it’s going to be a good series.
While we’ve seen them a lot already, Charlotte does have a few guys that are back (from the parent Carolina Hurricanes) and some new guys that we didn’t see during the regular season and that comes into play. They’re also playing their best hockey now and you need to account for that, and they may also have changed their system. So you still need to scout them properly, make sure you know who their top players are and know everything about them. Nothing changes in terms of scouting.
For us, it’s just a matter of continuing to play the same way. Our biggest thoughts have been about ourselves and that’s important. You can scout the other team as much as you want but at the end of the day, it’s about how you play and how you perform. As long as we focus on that, we should have a good shot at winning. We do realize Charlotte is a very, very skilled team and they’re in the conference final for a reason. You need to account for that as well but at the end of the day, it’s about how we play.