In the first three games of this series, Brian Boyle has become public enemy No. 1 here in Ottawa. The Rangers tough guy has been in the middle of everything, starting with his decision to slap around Erik Karlsson in Game 1.
The Senators responded by targeting Boyle in the second game of the series, leading to a mini-brawl and a suspension for Matt Carkner. Boyle then mixed it up with Jason Spezza in Game 3 and had his fingerprints all over another Rangers victory.
And oh yeah, Boyle has scored in every game of this series — including two game-winning goals.
Boyle is just the seventh player to score a goal in three straight playoff games against the Senators. Here’s the entire list:
Brian Boyle – 2012, NYR
Sidney Crosby – 2007 & 2010, PIT
Andy McDonald – 2007, ANA
Martin St. Louis – 2006, TB
Sergei Gonchar – 1998, WAS
Richard Zednik – 1998, WAS
Randy Burridge – 1997, BUF
So does Brian Boyle crack the Top 10 list of Ottawa playoff villains? We’ve got a few games to go until this series is completed, but Boyle is well on his way to living in Ottawa playoff infamy.
I’ve compiled a list of the greatest single-series performances against the Senators by an opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Note: This doesn’t include goalies, because otherwise, this just becomes a ‘Top Maple Leafs against the Senators list’.)
1. Gary Roberts – 2002 Playoffs
The most common recurring nightmare in Ottawa has the voice of Air Canada Centre PA announcer Andy Frost saying, “Toronto goal scored by No. 7 Gary Roberts.” Nothing put the fear into Ottawa fans like Roberts in the springtime. And his coming out party against the Sens was in 2002, when he scored a triple-OT goal to win Game 2. And then with his team facing elimination, Roberts had a performance for the ages with two goals in Game 6 to force a seventh and deciding game — which of course the Leafs won. (Go ahead and admit it: Weren’t you surprised that Roberts’ name wasn’t on that list of players who scored in three straight games against Ottawa?)
2. Sidney Crosby – 2010 Playoffs
In the first round of the 2010 playoffs, Crosby scored a goal in the first four games of the series against Ottawa — something no opponent has ever done against the Sens. Crosby’s performance in Game 2 really stands out. Not only did he score a goal, he saved one as well by swatting away a puck that was behind Marc-Andre Fleury. And then for good measure, he shook off some tight-checking from Jason Spezza to set up the game-winning goal from Kris Letang. Crosby is one of the few players who gets booed every time he touches the puck in Ottawa and his playoff success against Ottawa has a lot to do with that.
3. Jeff Friesen – 2003 Playoffs
Of all the playoff goals that have been scored against Ottawa, I firmly believe that Jeff Friesen delivered the most crushing one. With a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the line in Game 7, Friesen broke a tie with just over two minutes left in regulation time to eliminate Ottawa. In the series, Friesen scored three goals and earned serious consideration for the Conn Smythe Trophy that spring.
4. Mike Peca – 1999 Playoffs
Peca’s blanketing of Alexei Yashin in that series is legendary in these parts, as he held the Sens star pointless in four games. To add insult, Peca hit the scoresheet in every game of that series and ended up with six points. That four-game sweep was the most disappointing performance by the Sens in a playoff series not involving Toronto.
5. Joe Nieuwendyk – 2004 Playoffs
At the age of 37, Nieuwendyk was an unstoppable force for the Leafs in the spring of 2004 against Ottawa. He scored four times in that series — including two memorable goals past Patrick Lalime in the deciding Game 7.
6. Steve Thomas, 2000 Playoffs
Before Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk, there was Steve Thomas — the original old-man Senators killer. In the first playoff matchup between the two teams, Thomas scored four goals against the Sens at the age of 36. Thomas was especially lethal in Game 5 of that series, scoring both goals — including the OT winner — as his Leafs took a 3-2 series lead.
7. Chris Pronger – 2007 Playoffs
Everyone in Ottawa believed that Pronger deserved more than a one-game suspension for his blatant elbow to the head of Dean McAmmond. But the league suspended Pronger for just Game 4 of that series and the Ducks rallied around his absence to score a win and take a 3-1 lead. It’s strange that Ottawa hasn’t won a playoff game at home since the night Pronger hit McAmmond — so we’ll have to see if there is actually a curse associated with this moment.
8. Alyn McCauley – 2002 Playoffs
While Roberts was huge for the Leafs in that series, so too was Alyn McCauley. The Leafs were playing without Mats Sundin and McCauley stepped in and played almost 20 minutes a night. In addition to scoring three times in that series, McCauley irritated everyone in Ottawa with his penchant for knocking his own net off when the Sens were buzzing around Curtis Joseph.
9. Andy McDonald – 2007 Playoffs
The Senators lost their best chance at the Stanley Cup because they couldn’t contain Andy McDonald. The Ducks centre scored a goal in three straight games in the Cup final — including a two-goal performance in the pivotal Game 4.
10. Tie Domi – 2002 Playoffs
While he never scored against Ottawa in 2002, we can all agree that if he had better balance, Ottawa would have won this series.