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Senators players offer their thoughts

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(Centre Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67’s was a second-round choice by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Spencerport, N.Y., is attending his first rookie camp and tournament with the team and has been sharing some of his experiences in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

We're facing the Leafs tonight to decide who wins this tournament and it's going to be pretty exciting. I know all about the rivalry between the teams and we're both 2-0 in this tournament, so it's going to be a great game tonight and a battle, for sure. It would be nice to break through with a goal before it's over. I haven't had any luck yet, but maybe I'm saving it all for tonight.

My routine before a game is pretty basic. I'll get a nice pre-game meal in ... usually I'll have pasta and salad, but it varies. Whatever they have available is what I'm going to have today. After that, I like to take a nap for maybe about an hour and a half. Then I'll get up, maybe get a small snack, then head over to the rink.

The tournament has been a great experience for me. It's kind of my first experience in an NHL atmosphere and being able to compete with all these players. It's been exciting and a lot of fun. It's pretty cool to wear an NHL jersey, but the job isn't finished. I've got to be here with a mindset and a goal, just put that stuff aside and go out and play my game.

When it comes to making it at the next level, I know that if I just play my game, I'll be fine. You can get better at anything, so if I just keep working on my game and I go out there and play my style of game, I'll be fine.

sensplayerblog

(Centre Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67’s was a second-round choice by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Spencerport, N.Y., is attending his first rookie camp and tournament with the team and will share some of his experiences in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

Today was our first off day at the rookie tournament, after having played games the last two days. It's definitely good to have some down time and a light practice. It really is a necessity to have a day like this and kind of relax a little bit. Then we'll get back at it tomorrow.

After the back-to-back games on the weekend, I'm definitely feeling it today and I'm a bit tired. But that's nothing compared to the regular season, so you just push through it. That's hockey, it's what we all chose to do, so we've got to push through these kinds of things.

We're heading down the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as a group today. I've been there before, but it was a while ago. I kind of remember it, but it'll be cool to go again today and see the Stanley Cup and all the exhibits. When you live the life of hockey, you get to enjoy seeing those things.

Our group has become really tight in a short period of time. We've got a lot of great guys here and everyone gets along pretty well. Some of us know each other a bit better than others, but we have a great time together. Of course, it's always better when we're winning!

We face the Maple Leafs in our final game tomorrow and I've already heard lots about the rivalry between them and Ottawa. They won both of their games and so did we, so it'll definitely be a good one to finish it off.

sensplayerblog

(Centre Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67’s was a second-round choice by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Spencerport, N.Y., is attending his first rookie camp and tournament with the team and will share some of his experiences in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

Today's game against the Blackhawks was definitely different than our first one. The amount of chances I had today was pretty crazy and I wasn't very fortunate. Every player goes through those streaks and you can't seem to catch a bounce. But at least I'm there, I'm getting a lot of offensive opportunities and creating plays. That's all I could ask for myself.

As a team, we had a lot of goals. Our power play was definitely clicking today. It was just like yesterday in that we had a lot of offensive chances, but the difference today is that we put a lot more of them in the back of the net.

Now that we've won our first two games, we want to win the tournament. Even before yesterday's game, we were coming in here to win. The more you win, the better the evaluation you get for yourself. It's just better to be around a winning atmosphere. It's great that we won the first two and we're going to work to win that third one.

Yesterday, after the game, we had a lot of down time and me and (Jean-Gabriel) Pageau and (Darren) Kramer and (Stefan) Noesen all played cards. It's relaxing and a lot of fun as well. It's definitely needed. You can't be focused the whole time. You've got to be able to sit back and relax and enjoy yourself. You put so much energy into the games, so you've got to be able to relax before the next one.

I've always liked playing cards. I remember doing it when I was eight or nine years old with my minor hockey teams. I've done that since I was young and it's still a lot of fun. I really enjoy it.

sensplayerblog

(Centre Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67’s was a second-round choice by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Spencerport, N.Y., is attending his first rookie camp and tournament with the team and will share some of his experiences in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

We started out our rookie tournament against the Penguins today and I thought it was pretty fun. I knew a lot of guys out there from junior hockey and stuff, but I thought it was a really good experience. I think I did a really good job and we got the win 4-0, so it was a great way to start.

The coaches had me playing on a line with with Mika Zibanejad and Andre Petersson. They’re very high-skilled guys and I work well with guys like that, who are offensive minded. Both those guys are goal scorers and I’m a bit more of a playmaker. They’re good guys to play with and for our first game, we did really well. We had numerous scoring chances today but we just couldn’t find the back of the net. To find chemistry like that right off the bat was pretty cool and the goals are going to come eventually.

The arena here in Oshawa is real familiar to me. We play here three times a year with the 67’s, but I think one game is usually enough to feel comfortable in a rink. I like playing here. It’s kind of hard to explain why to non-hockey players, but you do feel more comfortable in a rink once you’ve played there at least once. Every rink has a different feel but coming in here, I felt pretty comfortable because I’ve played here numerous times.

I can't say I felt too nervous coming into the game today. I’ve been to so many camps in the past where I’ve had to go out and prove myself, so it’s just another day for me, really. I’ve got to prove myself again here and I just want to have fun with it. I know that’s when I play my best.

I’m rooming with Matt Puempel here this week. At development camp, we roomed together as well and now again here. He’s in Peterborough with the Petes and we play them eight times a year with the 67’s, so I know him pretty well. I don’t think there’s a guy here I don’t get along with. It’s a bunch of great guys to be around.

sensplayerblog

(Centre Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67’s was a second-round choice by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The native of Spencerport, N.Y., is attending his first rookie camp and tournament with the team and will share some of his experiences in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

I’m at my first NHL camp of any kind and I think it’s pretty cool. It’s something I’ve worked hard for my whole life. To be able to be here and compete with guys that are at the same level is pretty awesome.

It definitely makes me feel more comfortable that I’m in the same city where I play junior hockey and I know my surroundings a bit. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to get drafted by the team that’s in the same city where they play junior hockey.

At this camp, I’m just going to go out and do my best. I’m here to make the team and I’m going to do the best that I can do. I’m here for nothing else but that and I’m going to give it everything I have this weekend. We’ve got a great bunch of guys here and I got to know a lot of them at development camp. So it’s definitely pretty comfortable in that regard. I know pretty much everybody here, which is great.

The highlight of my summer was attending USA Hockey’s world junior team camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August. It went really well and I think I did a really good job there. They made some cuts part way through the camp and I got past that, but I still have to have a great start to the season. Hopefully, if I get the opportunity to play at the world juniors, I’ll do well. Any time you get to represent your country, it’s going to be a great opportunity. You don’t get that chance a lot, so it would be a great experience if it happens.

I’ve got quite a few people coming to watch me at the rookie tournament in Oshawa. There should be a decent crowd from back home. Immediate family, uncles, cousins … I’ve got a big hockey family. They all love it and really support me and they’re all going to be there to cheer me on.

sensplayerblog

(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

Development camp ended today with a 3-on-3 tournament, but the coaches decided to keep me out of it because they’re being careful about my hip. Although I’d rather have been out there, what they told me is it’s not too, too important to rush it. It felt great skating yesterday and obviously, I’d like to have been a part of it. The guys seemed like they’re having fun out there and it was fun to watch, too.

I can definitely say I’m leaving this camp with some new friends to stay in touch with from now on. Being with guys that much in a week, you get to know a lot of them, find out what they’re like and you get to know their personalities and stuff. You definitely meet a lot of new people and learn a lot of things about them. It's something that I’ve definitely enjoyed doing throughout this week.

Just how much I’ve learned this week is what made it pretty special. As I’ve said before, this is my first look at how everything works up here and it’s an eye opener. A lot of stuff is pretty simple and hard work is what matters the most. It’s about the quality of your workouts and the technique you use. The things they’ve given me are probably more specific to me than any other player.

I’m off to Canada’s world junior team summer camp on Aug. 2. It’s a date that’s definitely been circled on my calendar for a long time. World juniors are so huge around Canada during that time of year. We don’t just think of it as Christmas time around here, it’s also world junior time as well. That’s how we see it in Canada. And the tournament’s in Canada this year, so I’m going to do everything I can to make that team. I know I’ll learn a lot of things when I get there and I’m going to try to enjoy it as much as possible.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog this week. I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts about my first experience with the Senators and I’m looking forward to being a part of it all in the future.

sensplayerblog

(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

We just finished the last workout of the week this morning and this whole camp has gone by pretty quickly, considering how jam packed as each day has been. I definitely had a lot of fun and it’s been a new experience for me. It’s been NHL organization-oriented and that’s something that is a first for me. I didn’t know what to expect coming in here, but I’ve learned so much and I was happy to be a part of it.

The biggest surprise for me is how technical the workouts are. It’s not really about quantity, it’s about quality, how you’re doing it and how much preparation goes into everything. Your days are also different with seminars and stuff, but you’re coming to the rink every day, getting ready, going on the ice and cooling down afterward. That’s your everyday life and it’s what you have to do. It’s definitely something I want to keep doing in the years to come, that's for sure.

I would love to be a part of the 3-on-3 tournament on Monday morning but with the situation I have here … I missed quite a bit of games last season and being on the sidelines watching doesn’t get any easier. Even though it’s only a camp, when I saw how packed the rink was the other night for our scrimmage, I definitely felt like I wanted to be a part of that instead of watching. But at the same time, I understand their reasoning and how they’re reacting to my hip surgery. How they brought me along this week and looked after me, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

We’re going to see Katy Perry tonight at Scotiabank Place to finish off our day. I’ve actually never been to a concert before and that’s definitely something I’m looking forward to, my first live concert. She’s famous these days and even though I can pinpoint one right now, I know she’s got some big songs out there. I’m looking forward to seeing her and it’ll be a lot of fun.

sensplayerblog

(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

We spent Canada Day afternoon playing outdoor paintball as a team-building exercise. That was a lot of fun, although it was extremely hot in the fields. We had a bunch of coats on and pants on and mosquito bites all over, but it was fun getting outside like that. It was different than the usual stuff we’re been doing and I think all the guys had a good time. I walked away from it all pretty clean. I got a little bit of paint on me, but nothing too severe. I’m going to live, I think.

I think it was good for us to try something different like that. This camp is pretty hockey oriented and I think if you drive the guys all day every day with hockey, the camp intensity won’t be as high as it could be. But getting away and doing something like that means a lot to the guys, and I think the coaches like organizing it when the guys appreciate it and have so much fun with it.

The competitive level out there was no different than we show on the ice. Every guy here is competitive in everything in life. It’s just your nature. When you come this far in hockey, it’s something that kind of grows inside of you. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, every guy is pretty competitive.

This morning, we tried something else different, working out indoors at the fieldhouse at the Bell Sensplex. Everything I’ve done here and learned here has been different than the everyday stuff I’ve been used to in the past. This is the important stuff as far as working out and we got a good sweat on. When you’re training efficiently like this, you’re making greater strides on the ice as opposed to just lifting the heavy weights and not doing it properly. That’s just how you kind of get set back when you think you’re growing so much.

One of the things we worked on today was our fighting skills. That hasn’t been in my game too much growing up, but it’s good stuff to know. You never know when you’re going to need it. I was kind of surprised about how much technique goes into it and also surprised how quickly you can pick it up. It’s something small that’s good to have. I don’t think I’d want to fight every game or anything like that, but some guys do that for a living and for them, it’s definitely a tough living and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit.

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(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

This morning, all three of us first-round draft picks — Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen and myself — got asked to do a ceremonial puck drop before a game at a minor hockey tournament at the Bell Sensplex, where we’ve been training during development camp. That kind of thing is part of the whole business scenario and stuff like that. In order to help get fans out, you have to give back to the community and I’ve never been one to mind doing stuff like that and it’s fun.

Whenever I get the chance to talk to kids, the main thing I tell them about hockey is to have fun. You remember going back to when you were that age and if someone took the time to talk to you, it made your day and made your week, so it's important that we do the same thing. Sometimes, when you’re trying to give back that way, you bring yourself back to when you were that young and remember how much that meant to you. That motivates you to want to do that kind of thing even more yourself.

Last night, we had an autograph session with fans at the Sensplex. It was neat to have people coming up and saying it’s exciting to have me here and they were excited when the Senators picked me. In such a big city, to have people know your name like that, it’s pretty special and humbling. It’s pretty shocking how many people here do know who I am, but it’s also really nice. That’s what you get in a good hockey city where the fans are so well educated, like they are here.

Maybe part of the reason people know me is that the Petes come to Ottawa to play the 67’s so often. I’m not too sure. Or they just follow the Sens really closely. With the Internet today and everything that goes on in the news and stuff like that, I find that fans know so much more about what’s going on. Every little thing is watched and people know who you are when you go out and they happen to see you.

Mika, Stefan and I will always be the guys the Senators picked in the first round this year. But when you come here, nobody thinks about when you went or where you went in the draft. It’s a matter of what you do from now on. Those numbers play into things during the draft weekend but once you get to this camp, it’s all over. The three of us haven’t talked too much about it. It’s a nice accomplishment and we’re all really happy about it but at the same time, the draft is kind of in the past now and we’re looking forward to bigger things.

sensplayerblog

(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of fans we’ve had come out to watch us at the Bell Sensplex so far this week. It’s all new to me and it makes it that much more exciting. I think the players love it just as much as the fans do and it’s great to see all that support. It’s pretty big and when you have the support, teams feed off that. When you’re winning in a city like this, it’s great and it gives you that much more motivation to keep winning, as opposed to a city that doesn’t show that much interest.

I was on the ice with Nikita Filatov yesterday and you could tell, by the number of fans watching us and cheering for us, that hockey is definitely much bigger in a Canadian city in the NHL. You’re not used to that when you come out on the ice, but it’s definitely nice to see. If there’s that many fans out at a little two-person skate, I’m sure at the games, when you’re winning and stuff like that, it becomes that much more exciting in the city. It’s nice to see and it’s fun.

You could say I get a little taste of that in Peterborough, where there’s such a tradition of junior hockey with the Petes. You’re definitely known around the city and it’s much better when you’re winning. I think it’s good to have that atmosphere around your team. For sure, you’re well known and as you get older and as you move up on the team, you have to watch what you do that much more. I can see all of that helping me here in Ottawa someday. That kind of interest makes hockey that much more exciting and you have to be just as good a person off the ice as you are on the ice.

I talked to Nikita quite a bit when we were out on the ice together and he’s a really nice guy. He’s played in the NHL, so he knows what it takes to get there. To be around guys like that can only make you better, so it was a lot of fun to skate with him. He’s such a good player. We were doing a lot of skating and you could tell how good of a skater he is. You definitely can learn a lot just by watching, let alone being on the ice with him.

We’re going to get a chance to meet with some fans tonight after our scrimmage at the Sensplex. I think it’s really important to give back that way. The fans give you most of what you have playing wise, so it’s definitely important to show them that respect factor. I’m a guy that’s always been involved that way and I like to do that kind of thing. I think it’s a lot of fun.

sensplayerblog

(Left-winger Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes was one of three first-round picks by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He’ll be sharing some thoughts about participating in his first Sens development camp in a series of blog posts for ottawasenators.com).

It’s been a ton of fun so far this week for me at Senators development camp. To get on the ice yesterday with Marc Power, the skating coach, was great. I was pretty fortunate to skate with Nick Foligno. It was just him and I on the ice and that was definitely cool. You can learn a lot from something small like that. It was a lot of fun and I’ve been having a blast.

As you might know, I had hip surgery a few months ago and while it isn’t affecting what I can do, Ottawa is kind of guiding me through this camp and treating me differently. Whatever they say, I do. (Senators goaltender) Pascal Leclaire had the same surgery, so they know the protocol and it couldn’t be a better situation for me that way. They’ve treated me great and they know how to react to something like this.

I’m rooming with Shane Prince at the hotel. We didn’t know each other too much before now, although we did play in the Top Prospects Game together. We battled each other all year — our teams play eight times a year, and the Peterborough-Ottawa rivalry in the OHL is pretty big. But we’ve started to get to know each other here and he’s a really good guy. We’ve talked a bit about the games we played against each other and there were a few stories shared. But mostly, we talk about the camp and being friends.

I’ve definitely found the training routines here to be different. They break down everything more. If someone can do a hundred squats at 400 pounds, it’s not as important as making sure you have good technique. You learn specifics about stuff like that. What I’ve learned in the past has been much more general, so I’m definitely learning so much here and I continue to learn every day.

It’s been so great to be able to learn so much and you can take a lot home with you when you leave this camp. If you learn something every day, you can make yourself better and if that’s what you do here, you’re going to be so much better off for it in the long run.

sensplayerblog

(Forward Colin Greening, a native of St. John's, Newfoundland, provided some insights into the Binghamton Senators' playoff run during a series of blog posts over the past two months for ottawasenators.com readers. Now he offers up some final thoughts about the B-Sens claiming their first Calder Cup crown).

When I think about us winning the Calder Cup, it’s still surreal to me. That’s probably the best way to put it. You can’t really believe you achieved something like that, knowing what you went through. When you think about it, we had to fight and claw our way into the playoffs and we didn’t clinch a spot until the third-last game. Against Manchester in the first round, we got down 3-1 in the series and then, in Game 6, they had a penalty shot in overtime. If they would have scored, we would have been gone. So if you look back at all that and realize what we accomplished ... it’s so hard to understand it. Every now and then, you just shake your head and think ‘wow, we won the whole thing. We won the Calder Cup.’

When the game ended on Tuesday night, so many thoughts are going through your mind. To be honest, all you’re thinking about is jumping on the ice, throwing your gloves in the air and taking it all in. Five seconds left, there’s a faceoff and we see the puck roll out of our end and all of sudden it’s ‘oh my God, we actually won.’ It’s so hard to describe. You just can’t describe the emotions that fill you up on the ice. At that point, you don’t even really realize what you’ve accomplished. You just won a game and it’s big. Then afterward, you’re presented with the trophy and the hats and it’s almost overwhelming, the emotions you feel at the time.

It’s hard to describe the way I felt when it was my turn to hoist the Calder Cup over my head. You just feel so content with how things turned out. I know that sounds weird, but you just feel so good and content because you realize how hard you had to work and you realize how hard the team worked and what we went through. Then you just tell yourself ‘I deserve this. It feels good and I worked hard for this and I want to take advantage of this.’ It was just incredible. For people who aren’t sports fans, I know it’s hard to contemplate — to them, it’s just a little cup. But what the Cup symbolizes is why it means so much to everybody.

When we got back to Binghamton the next day, we were greeted by some fans at the airport. Then we went to the hospital to visit Stirls (assistant coach Steve Stirling). You could tell he was very, very happy. The guy had gone through quadruple bypass surgery, so we knew we didn’t want to get him too excited because he was trying to rest and we didn’t want to disturb that. But he had a smile on his face from ear to ear and he was up and talking with guys and cracking jokes. I’m sure for him, it means a lot because it represented a culmination of how much hard work that he and Kurt (head coach Kleinendorst) and the rest of the staff put into it. I’m sure it was a very special moment for him.

We knew the city had a parade planned for us if we won and I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about it. I didn’t know how many people they would get out for it on such short notice. But I have to admit it was 10 times better than what I expected. There were so many fans there. They were all cheering and rowdy and they were so supportive. When we got back to the rink, they were chanting the whole time. I’ve got a lot of videos on my phone and a lot of pictures. It was such a fantastic day.

Now that the season’s over, I’m, going to take some time to rest and recuperate. I’ll be in Chicago for most of the summer and then I’ll be home in Newfoundland for a couple weeks in July. It’s more about recharging the batteries, but you want to enjoy the summer, too, coming off something like the season we just had. After a win, our coach always likes to say ‘enjoy it until your head hits the pillow.’ But in his speech at the end of the season, he said ‘now we can enjoy it for the rest of the summer.’ And I think that’s one of the biggest things to remember. We should take advantage of this and be proud of what we’ve accomplished. That’s something I definitely think I’ll make sure I do this summer.

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It’s amazing feeling thinking that we have a chance to win the Calder Cup tonight, but you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself. If we do that, it’ll probably be a downfall for us. Right now, we have to keep things in perspective and realize we still have to get one more win and we’ll deal with whatever happens after that.

For us, the key tonight is being consistent. The last two games, we’ve been really consistent throughout. And we have to stick to our game, which has been one of our strengths in the playoffs. We just need to keep that same mentality and realize, if we do have a bad shift or maybe just a lull in our game, to come back with another good shift. But consistency is the biggest key.

We expect the Aeros’ best game tonight. Think about it. This is an elimination game for them and they’ve been in this situation before. Their last two series went to Game 7, so they have experience in this situation and they know how to battle back. We know they’re definitely going to bring out their best game, their ‘A’ game, especially in front of their home crowd.

I hope we can bring some of the momentum we generated in Binghamton. We fed off the crowd back in Binghamton and obviously, we’re not going to have that going for us tonight. But I think everyone should feed off the experience we had in the last two games. Speaking with guys this morning, I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Our start is going to be extremely important tonight. I think they’re going to throw everything they have at us in the first period. Not to say they’re not going to give a very good, consistent effort, but for them, I think they realize if they’re going to take control of this game, it has to be in the first period, so we’re going to have to be ready for that.

We talked this morning about what happened to our assistant coach, Steve Stirling, who isn’t with us here in Houston. We don’t want to change anything and let any distractions get in the way. He sent a message to us saying that he didn’t want to be a distraction. At the end of the day, it’s part of life and there are some things that are greater than hockey.

If you look at the character Stirls has, he’s just been with us all year and he’s been especially great to the younger guys, helping us develop. I think in the back of everyone’s mind, we all want to get this done for Stirls and bring the Cup back to him on Wednesday.

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We have only two games left to play on home ice this season and it’s a little bit sad in a way. But to be honest, when you think about, we should be happy, too, that we’ve been able to play as many games as possible in this rink. It’s been a really good experience and we’ve had a fun time here, especially in the last couple of series when it’s really been packed in here. That’s made it even more fun for us to play at home.

The support we’ve been getting from the fans has been great as we've moved on through the playoffs. The building wasn’t quite as full during the regular season but that’s understandable, because we were up and down and no one knew if we were going to make the playoffs. It’s just human nature for people to jump on and off the bandwagon, but it’s great to see it’s become something for people here to rally around and talk about around the water coolers when they’re at work. That really helps the morale around the city and it’s great to see. It’s nice to see them come and support us the way they have, and we really feed off it.

We’re still in good spirits heading into tonight’s game. The three games we’ve played so far have all basically been decided by one goal. It would be a lot different if we felt like we were being totally outplayed, or if we weren’t scoring any goals and they were scoring six or seven goals a game. But it’s a different mentality for us and we all realize it’s just part of the game. The last three or four minutes of Game 3, we had some great chances that almost went in and tied up the game. You think about one shot or one post we hit that could have changed the outcome. Sometimes, when you look at it that way, you realize it could have gone either way.

Tonight’s game will be the 104th of this season for me, counting the time I also spent in Ottawa. Right now, it’s about just making sure you’re mentally tough and physically tough. Once you’ve played a certain amount of games, you just go out and play. At the beginning of the season, you’re in your best physical condition, but you still haven’t gotten into that groove yet, where you’re just comfortable on the ice and you’re just trying to get your game back. At this point, you might be a little more tired, but you compensate by just being able to go out and just play and make smart decisions.

Once the season is finally over, I’ll look back and I think that’s when it’ll all finally sink in how many games I’ve played. But for the time being, the most important thing is to focus on one game at a time. If I actually thought about the number of games I’ve played and how much travelling I’ve done this season, I think I’d get a little overwhelmed, so I’ve tried to block that out.

The last four years, when I was at Cornell, the most games I played, even with exhibitions, is maybe 38. In junior in Nanaimo, I played maybe 65 or 70 at most. So this is definitely the most I’ve ever played in a season. Once you get over the 100 level, it’s a little different. But it’s been a good experience, kind of a baptism by fire in my first season. It’s given me a good introduction to pro hockey.

This entire season has been about gaining experience. Whether you have a good or bad experience, it helps you in the long run. You can’t help but benefit from experience like that. You talk about people who run any business, that’s what they’re looking for ... they want people with experience who have gone through all those trials and errors. That’s something I’ll take away from this season.

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We were very, very happy to come home from Houston with a split of the first two games in the Calder Cup Finals. But to be honest, we’re just happy to be back here. We’ve done a lot of travelling in the last six or seven weeks and we realize now that we’ve got one series left. Now we really want to take advantage of home ice. We’ve really been lucky, especially the last two rounds, that we’ve had good crowds and it’s nice to have that. You want to feed off it. During the regular season, it was a lot different, so this has been a nice surprise for us.

The humidity was brutal when we were down in Houston. You think about Binghamton ... we’re not getting a lot of sun here, so we’re not used to that. I remember walking outside there and it was 96 degrees Fahrenheit. I guess you just acclimatized to it as quickly as you can. But skating in that rink for the first time ... I took one step and I was already sweating. Those are little mental things you’ve got to try to keep in the back of your mind. We’ve played in hot arenas before, so you try to remember those experiences and hopefully, it’ll help you out.

My dad is coming in from Newfoundland for the games this week. He’s flying to Toronto first to visit my brother, then he’s going to drive down here. It was kind of a last-minute thing for him. If we had played Hamilton in the final, he would have gone there first and watched the entire series. He’s really excited about coming here. He’ll get to see three games now, which he’s really happy about. It’ll be nice for him to take in this whole experience.

To be honest, I’m not getting a lot of press back home about this series. We had three Newfoundlanders — Michael Ryder, Teddy Purcell and Ryane Clowe — still in the Stanley Cup run up until the last round. And Ryder is still in there with the Bruins, so he’s kind of getting all the press now. Seriously, though, I do still get some e-mails congratulating me and asking me how things are going, and that's nice. But Ryder, Purcell and Clowe were definitely getting all the attention back home, to see who’s going to win the Stanley Cup.

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(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).

We’re in the Calder Cup final now and it’s incredible. When you think back to the beginning of April, we were just trying to make the playoffs. There were some pretty incredible times just to get there. Now we’ve put our best forward, grown as a team and made it to the Calder Cup final. I think we’ve definitely exceeded everybody’s expectations, but right now, you reset your goals and we want to win a championship.

I think it was fitting, thinking about our record in the playoffs so far, that we had to go to overtime to finally finish off Charlotte in the Eastern Conference final. That was our fifth overtime win in the playoffs and I think we’ve taken pride in our overtime play. When we came in after regulation, everyone was just saying to themselves ‘we’ve been here before. It’s not a big deal and we know we can win.’

We ended up sweeping Charlotte, but I don’t think that was indicative of how they played. They’re a very good team and I think, at times, we just had good puck luck and we played well at the right times. Of course, I want to give us credit because I thought we played well, but that was a very good team we faced. I definitely don’t think the 4-0 result was indicative of their play in the series.

You never go into the playoffs thinking you’re going to get knocked out in the first round. Everyone wants to give themselves the best opportunity to win a championship and I think the fact we made the playoffs and we were okay ... that was our goal at the time, but now we’ve got another goal and that’s to win a championship. You focus on one series at a time but always, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking ‘we could win this’ because we felt all along that we had a really good team.

We’re waiting to see whether we’ll face Houston or Hamilton next, but I’m really not paying too much attention to it. Both those teams have to be really good because they made the Western Conference final. Whoever we play, they’ll be very talented, but only time will tell who it is. To be honest, it’s not worth occupying your time thinking about that stuff. You don’t want to focus on them, you want to focus on yourself.

I’d like to be starting the final on Tuesday or Wednesday, but that’s not going to happen. It’ll just mean a few more days off, so we'll just try to make the most of it. If the series started tomorrow, we’d try to take advantage of the fact we’d be playing with a lot of momentum. But with it probably not starting until next Friday, we’ll take advantage of the fact we’ll have lots of rest. Whatever your situation, you’ve got to make the best of it.

It’s been a really great week for me, with what’s gone on down here in Binghamton and also signing a new three-year contract with the Senators. I received a lot of congratulatory e-mails from friends and family, so that’s been really nice. It was just nice to get that out of the way and know where I’m going to be. I’ve been dealing with that for a couple of weeks, but now it’s one less thing to have on my now. I’m really happy that I’ll be part of the Sens organization and their rebuilding program.

I was very, very happy with the contract. Honestly, my first reaction was ‘I’ve got to call my parents.’ So I called them, we discussed it and they were happy with it. There was a big party back in Newfoundland that night, that’s for sure. My agent and I were really pushing for the one-way deal. Not that I don’t like Binghamton, but it was more a case of there's a great opportunity for me up in Ottawa. I really love the city and I think it’s the best place for me to be right now for my career.

The one-way deal does give you a little more security in terms of your salary, but everyone knows the business of hockey — you can be traded and lots of things can happen. But honestly, I think being on a two-way contract this year kept me on my toes a little bit. Next year, I want to make sure I keep that mindset because anything really can happen. At least I know I’ll be with Ottawa for most of the year, unless something drastic happens. But it is nice to know I have a little more security now.

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(Senators forward Ryan Shannon is representing Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia. He’ll provide some insights for ottawasenators.com during a series of blog posts).

As we enter into the quarter-finals today, we understand we will be facing the strongest team in the tournament in the Czechs, who have yet to lose at this world championship. We must understand how great an opportunity this is for us as a team and what an honour it is to play for our country. We have put ourselves in a position to bring home a medal, a feat that is rarely accomplished by Team USA at the world championship.

This is the best part of hockey right now. We can compare this game to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The winner moves on, the loser goes home. There aren't any point systems or tie-breakers involved in this round and the ones to follow. It’s winner take all from now on.  

Milan Michalek, one of my Senators teammates, will be back in the lineup for the Czechs after missing his team’s last game against Germany. Milan has had a great tournament so far and we must be aware of his speed and scoring ability. There won't be much time for chatting between us during this one, because too much is at stake.

We are now based in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It’s a beautiful city, from what I've seen so far. It's much larger than Kosice, where we were for the early rounds of the tournament, and the capital buildings are located very close to our hotel. We haven't had much time to see the sights just yet. Hopefully after today’s game, we will be rewarded with more time in the city.

Slovakia has been knocked out of the tournament and it will be interesting to see if the Slovakian fans decide to root for their rival in the Czech Republic or support Team USA when we face off today. The autograph seekers are abundant around the hotel and that leads me to believe that the atmosphere for tonight's game will be loud. Maybe even like when the Senators play Montreal or Toronto.

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(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.

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(Senators forward Ryan Shannon is representing Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia. He’ll provide some insights for ottawasenators.com during a series of blog posts).

Hello again. We are wrapping up the qualification round today with our last game against Switzerland. Since our battle with Team Canada on Friday, we beat France and have qualified for the next round. We are finding different ways to win games and most of it has to do with our special teams play. They call a lot of penalties here, so that's our main focus. 

Since we have already qualified for the quarter-finals and the reseeding won't take place until after all the games are finished tonight, today’s game could turn out to be very important. Regardless, our team confidence and growth as a group is more important than who our crossover opponent will be. It's a great challenge to play a team that has played both Canada and Team Sweden to very close games. 

All the quarter-finals are scheduled to played in Bratislava, which is the capital of Slovakia. I'm pumped to move on to a bigger city. Kosice has been great, but the same hotel food has worn out my appetite. Time to move on ...

I've learned one Slovak word since I’ve been here and it tends to get you very far. That word is ‘Dakujem,’ which means thank you. It works with waitresses, cab drivers and security all the same. They seem to enjoy it when you fumble the word a bit, too. 

We do talk about and follow the NHL playoffs while we're over here. Playoff hockey is the best part of any season. You watch careers blossom and careers end. The intensity and passion during the games is enjoyable to watch, even if you're not playing in them. Always next year!

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(Senators forward Ryan Shannon is representing Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia. He’ll provide some insights for ottawasenators.com during a series of blog posts).

Monday’s game against Norway was a good test for us. They had just beaten Sweden in a shootout the game before and we were prepared for a solid game from them. Our first period left us down 2-0, with a few turnovers proving costly for us. But as the game progressed, we gained momentum and confidence. Smart passing and strong forechecking made the difference for us in our 4-2 win.

Norway is a team that tries to play a gritty game, drawing you into unnecessary penalties. They try to make the most of their special teams play and rely on strong goaltending. Keeping our focus and composure helped turn the game in our favour in the end.

Our next game, against Sweden on Wednesday, will be our best challenge to date. Special teams are deciding factors in these types of games, so discipline while being aggressive will continue to be our focus.

As the tournament is developing, the placement for the next round begins to become more clear. But having secured a spot does not mean our work is finished. The points and placement we would get by finishing first in the group will help our confidence going forward as the tournament progresses.

Today was an off day for us and our team visited the U.S. Steel mill in Kosice. A major corporate presence in the area, they provided our team and guests with a tour of their facilities. It was an interesting experience that included watching steel being heated to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit!

When we do have some time off on non-game days, we roam the city where we're staying and enjoy different cafes and restaurants. The Slovakian food we've had the chance to sample so far has been very good. Desserts include custard Danishes and Nutella crepes. Slovaks love sparkling water so if you prefer it without the bubbles, you have to be sure to ask for it.

sensplayerblog

(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).

Saturday night’s loss was a really tough one for us. It’s just an example of how quickly things can change in a game. If you let your guard down for just a few seconds, it can come back to bite you.

We’ve done very well in these playoffs when games have gone to overtime. But we can’t really talk about that now because we didn’t get there on Saturday night. Whether it’s overtime or any period, we’re very confident but I guess given our success in overtime, we probably would have thought we would have had a good chance.

We just need a good effort on Monday night to get past this. I think if you look at the game last night, it was a really good game, an entertaining game. Most guys had a fun time playing in it until we lost it in the final few seconds. Now it’s just a matter of continuing what we were doing. We did a lot of good things last night. There are some things we need to correct and then we can just go from there.

Most of our games in the playoffs have been tight and that’s the biggest challenge that we’re facing right now, having to deal with one-goal games. It’s one shot or one save that can make the difference. But I think mental preparation is the most important thing. I don’t think it’s mentally tough. You just need to be mentally prepared.

I guess the million dollar question right now is why we’ve done so much better on the road than at home in the playoffs. I don’t think there’s any particular reason for it. It’s just the playoffs. You win some, you lose some. That’s just the way it goes. If the wins come at home, great. If not, we’ll take any win we can wherever we get it. Right now, they happen to be coming on the road. There’s really no answer for that. When you play well, you play well. It has no bearing whether you do it at home or on the road

On the road, I think we just realize it’s another game. It goes back to mental toughness. One of the biggest challenges when you play in another rink is to make sure you’re mentally tough for the game. You don’t have the support you would have at home. When we’re on the road, I think guys stick together more and we just play as if we are playing at home. Again, it comes down to mental toughness

It was great seeing our fans pack the building on Saturday night. It’s probably the best atmosphere we’ve had all year. It’s always nice to be able to feed off that and you could tell in the first five minutes that we did. We did play so well and everyone was pretty energetic. It’s always nice to have that added bonus, when you have lots of screaming fans and everyone pulling for you.

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(Senators forward Ryan Shannon is representing Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia. He’ll provide some insights for ottawasenators.com during a series of blog posts).

We played our opening game of the tournament on Saturday against Austria. In this type of tournament, every game means a lot. As a team, we understood the importance of starting strong and we beat them 5-1. Personally, I had an assist and finished +2. It was a good first game as we became used to the larger ice surface and different rules and we're looking forward to next facing a Norway team that upset team Sweden.

In a tournament like this one, it's very important to understand the team system and to bond as a group. In a short amount of time, a lot needs to be accomplished in order to have success. Leaders on the team must be defined quickly, as do the different roles on the team.

Chemistry is created by time on and off the ice. Since we are together as a group for the majority of the time, you get to know one another much like on a typical road trip in the NHL. Going out to dinner, watching games and playing cards are ways to develop friendships in a short time. The on-ice chemistry can be tricky but with the group that USA Hockey put together, there seems to be the right mix of players.

This is the fourth time I've represented Team USA in international competition and it's always a great honour for me. When we walk into our locker room, we have letters from military personnel supporting our efforts and pictures of past teams that have battled for our country. There's a great sense of pride among this year’s team and that will hopefully carry us through the tournament.

Being away from my family is the toughest part about the world championship. We are encouraged to bring a guest to the tournament, but my wife, Jessica, and I are expecting soon, so international travel isn't a great idea for her. But there are ways to communicate with home, such as Skype, and my iPad is a great tool for that.

Right now, Kosice is the Slovakian city we are in for the preliminary round. The atmosphere is electric due to the tournament and the local people have little trouble finding ways to celebrate it. The Steel Arena where we play is beautiful and the hotel— the same one as Jason Spezza and Team Canada — is great.

sensplayerblog

(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).

Getting that win in Game 1 last night was really important, especially coming into a tough place like Portland. The last time we came here, they came out really, really strong like they did last night. I guess after the first period, guys were thinking ‘we’re in for a tough game here.’ So everyone stepped up a little bit and we were able to play better in the second and third and get that win. To do that, especially in a tough barn like this one, was good.

It was actually pretty nice for a change to not have to win one in overtime, which we did four times in the first round against Manchester. A number of people were texting me the night before and saying ‘good luck tomorrow, it might be nice for our nerves to not go into overtime. Maybe you can win one outright.’ It was just a nice change of pace for us.

Our first-round experience against Manchester really helped out last night, after we fell behind early When we were in the first intermission, everyone was like ‘we’ve been here before, it’s not a big deal, we know how to battle back.’ Everyone was really positive in the dressing room and that really helped us.

It was great to see Corey Locke back in our lineup last night after he missed the whole first round because of injury. Corey is one of the premier players in the league and he knows where to find you on the ice. It was great to have him back. He’s a good teammate and a good friend and especially to be on the line with him was great.

People might wonder how we keep winning in spite of all the injuries we’ve faced. First of all, having good replacements is the most important thing. We have guys that have been practising with us and learning our system so when they do step in, it’s not a big adjustment for them. And other guys have really stepped up. If you look at our defensive end, we’ve had some guys out and you look at guys like (Geoff) Kinrade and (Andre) Benoit and (Patrick) Wiercioch who’ve all had to step up their games and step up their playing minutes. That really speaks volumes aboutt them.

Robin Lehner been great for us in net lately and he’s really stepped up his game. I know it’s been an up and down year for him, because he’s been in up in Ottawa and then sent back to Binghamton. That can be really trying on a player, especially for a guy his age. But he’s played really, really well for us the last four games. Going into the playoffs, we knew that (Barry) Brusty was going to be our No. 1 but now that Lehner’s been given the shot, he’s made the most of it, which says a lot about him.

We’ve already assured ourselves of a split in Portland, but that’s not enough for us. We’re going for a win tonight and if we’re able to get the win, great. If not, that’s not what we want. We want to come out of here with two wins. Any time you go into a game, you want to be able to win, no matter what the outcome was last night

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(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 don’t think a lot of people have gone through what we just did against Manchester, with all the overtime games in our playoff series. I’ve tried to explain to people over the phone the last couple of days exactly what happened and words don’t do it justice, the emotional rollercoaster that you go through in a situation like that. You think about five overtime games in a series — four of which we won — and it’s something I’ll always remember. We’re only the second AHL team to ever do that, so it’s kind of nice to etch our games in the record books.

Coach also told us right after the game that we were the first AHL team ever to win Game 5, Game 6 and Game 7 in a series in overtime. He gave us the post-game speech and he had a little add on, saying that we made history. That was pretty cool. Bu as exciting as the first round against Manchester was for us, one of the biggest messages we’ve had all year is you take it for what it is and you enjoy the moment. Once the next day comes, you realize what’s ahead and we’ve got a really good team in Portland up next for us to play.

The way we were able to keep our series going just shows our resiliency and I think it speaks volumes about the group of guys we have in here as well. From Day 1, everybody realized we had a good group of guys that got along, that worked well in the dressing room and had good chemistry. I think that really bodes well for us in the playoffs and we just showed that. Being down 3-1 in a series, it would have been easy to pack it in and realize that even if you win Game 5, you’ve still got to win Game 6 and Game 7 on the road and that’s a tough task. But it really speaks volumes about the character in the dressing room that we were still able to do it.

Even when we were behind, we just never gave up. In Game 7, we were down with two minutes to go and in Game 5, we were down with five minutes to go and yet there was no panic on the bench. Everyone just kept playing and we realized we were playing well. That helped our confidence and we knew it was only a matter of time before we would tie it up. Then we realized, when we went into overtime, that we had a good chance to win.

When we got home early Sunday morning, we saw the fans had decorated the outside of the arena with a bunch of signs. That was a nice thing to see, people showing that kind of sentiment when you come in at 5 a.m. From what I understand, a number of guys on the team have had people in town come up to them and express their gratitude. Everyone was happy when we made the playoffs and now I think people are ecstatic that we’ve made it through to the second round. Hopefully, we can make them even happier by getting to the third round.

Now we have to shift our focus to Portland and I don’t think it’s going to be difficult. Everybody realizes that this is what the playoffs are all about. You get through a tough series against Manchester and now you’ve got to focus on Portland or you’re going to crumble. I think everyone, even from the beginning of today’s practice, was really focusing on who their players are, what systems they play and I think that’s the key. Everyone realizes that and we’ll put all our efforts into facing Portland.

The playoffs are a grind, but everyone’s taking care of themselves the best they can. You could say we’re tired and things like that, but other teams are in the same situation as us. So that really can’t be an excuse. Portland had a really tough six-game series against Connecticut and the difference between six games and seven is really negligible. You can’t really focus on that and you just play. The best part of playoffs and we know our systems and we don’t have to practise much. We just go out there and play.

Consistency is going to be the most important thing for us against Portland. We had some lapses in the last series in the second period and that’s come back to bite us when we lost games. Portland is going to be a tougher test for us. They beat Connecticut for a reason; they’re an extremely talented team. We’ve just got to focus on that and make sure we’re consistently playing our game throughout the entire game.

sensplayerblog

(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).

It was an incredible feeling last night, winning Game 5 in overtime and keeping our season alive. You don’t want to think about that kind of stuff going into the game, especially when you’re going into overtime. But once you finally get that goal and you realize ‘we’re hopping back on the bus again tomorrow, our season is still going,’ it’s a pretty great feeling. We were happy to see Daugy (Kaspars Daugavins) get that goal because we felt he really deserved it, so that was an added bonus as well.

We had lost the previous two games we played at home in this series but this time, It was a matter of being more resilient. Our power play was really huge for us. The two goals in the third period came from our power play and they were really big. Other than that, we just stuck with it. I have to give props to (Ryan) Potulny and (Mike) Hoffman, who really came up big for us on the PP when we needed it.

The confidence level in this series has always been high for us. We realize that every single game we’ve played so far has been close. Just think about it — out of five games, three of them went to overtime. The other two games could have gone either way. So everyone’s always been confident. Now it’s 3-2 and if we win more game, then we’re going to Game 7. So we’re going to hop on that bus to Manchester with everyone feeling good.

Nothing changes in the way we’ll approach Game 6. We want to have the exact same mentality we had last night. We go out and play with a lot of confidence and with a lot of positivity on the bench. Last night, we showed what can come from having that attitude, so we’re just going to stick with that.

Right now, we’re taking it one game at a time in this series. It’s the only way you can look at it. You can even bring it down to another level. It’s just one period at a time and one shift at a time. If you try to look ahead to the next round or even Game 7 in this series, you’re going to lose track of what’s important. That’s just living in the moment and taking everything one shift at a time. Timely goals are going to be big for us the rest of the way. We’ve proven we can win games when we take care of that.

When we played Game 2 in Manchester, we came from being down 2-0 after two periods to win in overtime. That was absolutely huge for us. That’s the most important thing, to realize that we can come back when we’re down. So if they do get the first goal, nobody panics on the bench and everyone realizes it doesn’t matter who scores the first goal. We’ve just got to make sure we keep playing as well as we can.