Playoff fever is starting to build in the nation's capital.
After a one-year absence, the Ottawa Senators have returned to the Stanley Cup playoffs. And interest is beginning to build for the team's first-round series against Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Senators president Cyril Leeder reported today that only 2,500 tickets remain for each of Game 3 and Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final, which are set for Sunday (6:30 p.m.) and next Tuesday (7 p.m.) at Scotiabank Place.
"We had a reasonably good weekend (of sales) and a good morning," Leeder said earlier today. "We’re starting to move a little better now."
Sales have picked up since the dates and times for the games in Ottawa became public Sunday night and the Penguins were confirmed as the opponent. Leeder admitted the presence of Crosby "helps a lot." Prior to missing the playoffs in 2008-09, the Sens and Pens met in the opening round in back-to-back seasons.
"We played them (twice previously) in the first round and we got there on sellouts," said Leeder. "But it's been right to the wire."
"That's been normal the last few times we've been in the playoffs for the first round," said Leeder. "Until the opponent is known and the game times and dates, usually it takes a little longer to get those tickets sold. That's what we have to do. We have to get those games sold." - Cyril Leeder
The current level of ticket availability is in line with where the team stood at the same point in recent seasons in the opening round.
"That's been normal the last few times we've been in the playoffs for the first round," said Leeder. "Until the opponent is known and the game times and dates, usually it takes a little longer to get those tickets sold. That's what we have to do. We have to get those games sold."
Playoff sales have been especially strong among season-seat holders renewing their tickets for the 2010-11 season.
"Renewals have been outstanding," said Leeder. "If you're renewing, you're generally going to buy your playoff tickets, so that group has been really good. They're been over 100 per cent, so they're buying more (seats) than they actually have."
The Senators' current season-ticket base sits at 10,000, but Leeder said a strong playoff run could help push that total closer to the high-water mark of 13,000 in 2007-08 — the year after Ottawa reached the Stanley Cup final.
"We've had our best renewal ever this year," he said. "We won't get (to 13,000) this year but if you have a good long playoff run, it's quite possible to grow it by 2,000 and get back up to 12,000."