The Ottawa Senators are making believers out of the hockey world this postseason.
One thing works in the Senators' favor to win the Stanley Cup - their attitude. Finally, this team has a genuine edge to it. Ottawa has been among the most physical teams in the playoffs.
Another thing: The Sens are no longer afraid to lose. And when they do, they bounces right back. No more "choking dogs" labels for this group.
It's a welcome change for coach Bryan Murray as opposed to his predecessor, Count Jacqula, Jacques Martin.
"I only had last year's experience here," Murray said this month. "But very definitely we, like a lot of teams that have any success at all, have to play defense first. You have to get goaltending. You have to work hard. I think this team has done that much better in the second half of the year, in particular, and in the first round than the team I had a year ago.
"I think we're much more willing to show patience, not turn the puck over because of the need to score a goal this minute. I think that's made a great difference in our attitude, and as I said earlier, I hope in our ability to win games that are more difficult to win, tight in fashion."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson sees the change.
"I think what we went through this year with a tough start we had, battled back, get ourselves into the playoffs, I think a lot of people played different roles," Alfredsson said. "They have bigger roles as the season went on. I think we're a deeper club, now, probably. We just see this as a great opportunity for us to keep pushing."
Alfredsson told Canadian Press that this is the most fun he's had in a long time.
"I love going into battles in the corners and just trying to beat guys off the puck and create things," he said. "The competition, that's the thing."
Not much has happened on the Flyers' front regarding the re-signing of some of their restricted free agents. Among the players people are most keen on seeing re-signed is right winger Scottie Upshall. The Flyers have to qualify him at $900,600 - same salary as he made last season. The question is, do they simply qualify him for next season or do they try to re-sign him long term?
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren admits he would like to see more of Upshall to properly determine what the winger's market value is on a long-term deal.
"Long-term contracts cost you more," Holmgren said. "I've talked to his agent [Steven Kotlowitz] to see where we're at. Maybe we'll go with just a qualifier this year and see about long term next year."
Kotlowitz, who is part of the Rich Winter Group in Edmonton, Alberta, had no comment but didn't seem to mind that Holmgren might need a full season to watch Upshall and get a better idea on his actual worth.
Interesting that Anaheim's Samuel Pahlsson made the NHL's list as a finalist for this award along with New Jersey's Jay Pandolfo and Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour.
Pahlsson is a guy you don't usually think of for the trophy annually awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. And yet he was the perfect shutdown center as the Ducks eliminated Vancouver this week to advance to the Western Conference finals.
New Jersey's John Madden is a perennial favorite for the Selke, although Madden was a minus player in the playoffs this spring. Funny thing is, when Peter Forsberg showed up in Turin at the 2006 Olympics, he centered Pahlsson and P.J. Axelsson on a fourth line during a 6-1 win over Latvia. Granted, Sweden was the top team, taking the gold medal, but when was the last time you saw a fourth line forward off the Olympics win the Selke?