Sens will win Game 7. Here’s why…

If you’re a Senators fan waking up on Thursday morning – the morning of Game 7 – you’re likely feeling a mix of excitement and dread.

Your team, to the surprise of many perhaps, survived to live another day by squeaking out a come-from-behind win in Game 6. Game 7s, as this article from The Score is kind enough to remind everyone, have not been kind to the Sens in their franchise history.

But here are three reasons why the Sens will punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night.

1. They’ve got nothing to lose

Few expected to the Sens to be in the Eastern Conference Final at the outset of the playoffs, and maybe even fewer expected them to be one win away from Stanley Cup Final. The Sens are playing with house money without a doubt but, as cliché as that sounds, it’s true. In the previous round, the Penguins fended off a Capitals’ team playing on home ice with all the pressure on them to win. They’ll be in that spot this time around.

2. They’ve got special teams confidence again

Bobby Ryan’s slump-busting power play goal in Game 6 was obviously huge in the moment but what was even more significant in the bigger picture was the Sens going 3-for-3 on the PK after going 1-for-5 over the previous two games. Special teams were fairly even over the first three games of the series where they Sens won two games (Ottawa went 0-for-7 on the power play but killed off 9-of-10 Pittsburgh power plays.

The Sens found a way to beat the Rangers in six games despite only going 1-for-17 on the man-advantage, but their penalty kill was a big part of that killing off 22-of-24 New York power plays. If their belief in, and their execution on, their penalty kill is back, it will go a long ways towards contributing to a series-clinching win.

3. Karlsson will deliver

The Sens have had many heroes so far on their improbably playoff run including the likes of Ryan, Stone, Turris, MacArthur, Brassard, Hoffman and Pageau. But the one guy that’s been key to their success, besides netminder Craig Anderson, has been stud defenceman Erik Karlsson.

Karlsson hasn’t quite had the iconic moments in this series as he did in the previous one against the Rangers, but with everything on the line, expect him to seize the spotlight and show why he is the best in the league at what he does.

Cover image: By C.P.Storm from near Ottawa, Canada (Rink of Fire) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

My friendly neighbourhood sports bar

Let me preface this first by saying I’m generally not a reviewer. That is to say you’re not likely to find me on Yelp or Google or something similar to that leaving a review for a business, positive or negative, unless it’s park of the normal convention for that particular platform. After an eBay or Amazon purchase, for example.

That being said, on occasion when I’m treated to what I feel is exceptional service, I make a point to share it usually on a social media platform be it Twitter or Facebook. One such occasion just occurred last night.

I had made plans earlier in the week to have dinner with a friend of mine who was in town from Japan although we didn’t have a set plan for where to go. Both of us had been watching Game 3 of the Ducks-Predators series but with Nashville trailing 2-0 and looking like they had nothing in the tank, he began to make his way out to where we would meet. Lo and behold, as it seems to be a common occurrence so far in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Preds battle back with two quick ones to send the game to overtime.

I had mentioned casually earlier in the week after seeing a Facebook ad for a buy-one-get-one-free offer at the sports bar just down the corner where I lived so it became a no-brainer at that point that Cravings Restaurant and Sports Bar would be the destination.

Cravings isn’t quite like the typical sports bar to me, at least not on the two occasions that I visited. They’re a family restaurant converted into a dining room side and a “sports bar” side featuring wall-to-wall televisions after being taken over by new ownership. The “sports bar” is a bit on the smaller side – they’ve got about four booths and four more tables in the middle – and there’s not really an actual bar component.

None of that mattered to me, though. I’ve never been big in the bar scene, and quite frankly I was looking just for a place to watch what was to be left of the game.

I had come across Cravings several months earlier looking for a spot to catch a Canucks game, and after first stopping at the bar next door only to find the poor staff couldn’t find turn on their big screen projector and that apparently their kitchen service was already closed but they could order in food from the White Spot conveniently located next door (this was 7 p.m. on a Saturday), I cut my losses and went next door to Cravings which Google had informed me was now a sports bar.

I knew I would get friendly and personable service from their owner, Lily, as that was what I had encountered on my first visit to the newly-renovated restaurant months earlier.

What really got to me was the follow-up on social media a day later though. My experience was positive enough (minus the fact the Preds couldn’t manage to complete the comeback) for me to decide to write a nice review on their Facebook page. The reply I got completely amazed me.

replyfromcravings

It wasn’t so much the offer of a free dessert – something that I later, in doing some research, noticed the restaurant kindly offered to many of their reviewers – but the fact the owner recalled what I had ordered the night before and recognized me based on my Facebook profile picture.

Perhaps I made an impression at the time, but then again for a restaurant that serves guests all day long, I’m still stunned that level of attention to detail was displayed.

If you’re an organization on social media, the ‘social’ part of it is critical. There’s not much use having an online presence, especially on social media, if you’re not being dynamic and interacting with those who interact with your page. You might as well not be on social media in that case.

I couldn’t find Cravings on Twitter, which is probably a good thing for the time being because I’m not sure being a small, family-run operation they’d have the resources to continually post updates while, at the same time, trying to run the restaurant. I was a little disappointed not to find them on Instagram, however. #FoodPorn is a thing, and I think they’ve definitely got a few menu items they can highlight in addition to promoting some of the special events they’ve got going on. (Word is you can catch all the big UFC fights here with no cover charge, although you won’t find me there because that’s just not my thing).

I’ll pass along one further piece of advice to them, and to really any organization out there, which is to claim your business on Google if you haven’t done so already. It lets you manage some of the information about your business that appears on Google’s page, including opening and closing hours, that many people take for gospel because Google said so. It takes less than five minutes, and could prove immensely beneficial down the road.

Kudos to you, Cravings. I’ll be back for that complimentary dessert and I’ll probably get those nachos that I probably would have ordered that night had the Ducks not scored so quickly into overtime.