Those pesky Sens are still exceeding expectations.
Gearing up for the second round, being the longshot is working for the Senators, said University of Ottawa sport psychology professor Martin Camire.
Sens coach Paul MacLean, “right from the start, adopted an underdog mentality to try to put, maybe, less pressure on his players,” said Camire.
Now, “I don’t think there’s any other role he can assume with the prospect of facing Pittsburgh.”
After finishing off the Habs in five games Thursday — sparking mass celebration on Elgin St. — they’re now resting, awaiting the outcome of the Penguins-Islanders matchup.
Pittsburgh is leading the series 3-2 heading into Saturday’s Game 6.
Regardless of division rankings and media coverage, “I think they still put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves to succeed and that drive to succeed is what motivates them psychologically to go to the next level,” Camire said.
“At the end of the day, these guys are professional athletes. They’re all high achievers.”
They’re also marketing magnets.
Potential for player branding has emerged following the epic Hwy. 417 series which saw young guys making veteran moves.
“For a long time, it’s been Alfredsson and Spezza and Phillips and company, and then some players that are gone, but we’ve seen a lot of new, young players (making big plays). A lot of them are local,” said University of Ottawa sport business professor Norm O’Reilly.
“One thing that we know from the research is that local heroes … actually have an impact on a club’s profitability.”
There’s always more interest when players who step up are hometown favourites, he added, referring to Marc Methot and rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
The Sens “desperately need a French Canadian to really bring some interest from the French market in Ottawa and Gatineau,” said O’Reilly.
Pageau’s stellar performance in Game 3’s 6-1 victory is creating excitement.
“Here’s a kid — and he got a hat trick — and maybe he’s going to turn into a big-time player,” he said.
Overall, from a business perspective, “it would’ve been better to have a 7-game series,” O’Reilly said.
Even the Sun’s sports gurus didn’t predict such an impressive first round.
Bruce Garrioch and Aedan Helmer called the Sens winning in 6.
Don Brennan predicted the Sens nailing it in 7, while Tim Baines said Montreal would take the series in 7 games.