by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators have a lot of respect for this year's Stanley Cup champions.
Just minutes after watching the Anaheim Ducks celebrate with the Stanley Cup - Anaheim clinched this year's championship with a 6-2 win over Ottawa in Game 5 last night - the Sens gave kudos to their opponents.
"Anaheim is a hell of a team," Sens head coach Bryan Murray says. "They played extremely well throughout. They're well coached.
"I think, positionally, they played better than we did. Defence in particular. That's their agenda, really, to be a real strong defensive team. Anaheim is big and strong and real solid defensively, and that made it difficult to play maybe to the level that we had earlier on."
This was Murray's first trip to the Stanley Cup final as a head coach. He's disappointed the team wasn't able to make the best of the opportunity.
"I've waited a long time to get a chance to be a coach in the finals and I'm disappointed in all of us that we didn't get it done," he says. As far as the team is concerned, as far as the way we played it, I thought I saw a lot of character on our team. We have a lot of good people. We got here because of that as much as anything.
"I don't know if in every case we were the most talented group, but we played hard and very disciplined throughout the eastern playoffs."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says it was difficult to establish the same forecheck - that led to victories over the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres in the first three rounds - against Anaheim.
"I think we felt we were going really good into this. We couldn't get our forecheck going for whatever reason," Alfredsson says. They played real well defensively. They sit back with three, four guys, sometimes, and it's the defence that wins them the series."
Sens forward Mike Fisher agrees the loss hurts, but he says his team should be proud of their season.
"It's disappointing, obviously. No one likes to lose, but at the same time, we did get a lot accomplished this year," he says. Overall, we did a good job at the playoffs. We all battled really hard.
"It's hard to win anything. That's why it's so special. It's not fun going away without it. But we're going to hold our heads high."