Erik Karlsson. Jason Spezza. Craig Anderson. Daniel Alfredsson. The core-four of Ottawa Senators hockey.
Now picture them sitting in suits, watching their team scratch and claw a path to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Such a sight is foreign to Flyer fans, who witnessed their team crumble with injuries to Matt Read, Scott Hartnell, and others.
If only the Flyers could muster up some cold, hard discipline.
When breaking down the two clubs, personnel is similar. Both clubs have a top center, though Jason Spezza only played five games for Ottawa. The Sens and Flyers each boast a young core, highlighted by Kyle Turris, Jean-Gabrielle Pageau, Brayden Schenn, and Jak Voracek.
The attribute that has Ottawa in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is discipline. The Sens’ rarely take il-advised penalties, especially in the offensive zone. Ottawa’s penalty kill is organized, leaving no man unmarked. Mental errors are a cardinal sin in the Sens locker room. Even through adversity, Ottawa evokes true grit. In a shortened season when the Sens missed their top scorer, goaltender, and defensman, discipline lead the charge.
In a Flyer team not far away, this trait is lacking. Often times players made mental errors in key moments. The team was poor backchecking in 2013, leaving Ilya Bryzgalov out to dry.
The offseason wish list reads: “Discipline.”
Senators coach Paul MacLean acknowledged his team’s effort in game four, following a dramatic two-goal comeback:
“We play the whole game and don’t stop playing until the game is over and that means 60-plus minutes to do it, and we found a way.”
Hopefully the Flyers “find a way.” A way to become disciplined, and get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs; where they belong.