By winning the last game of the season, the Senators have done everyone some favours going into this post-season:
First and foremost, the Senators themselves will be happy that they do not have to face the one truly elite team in the East (Penguins). Their chances against the Canadiens are in theory better than they would have been against the Penguins.
I think the Senators also did a massive favour to the Canadiens. I was seriously worried about the prospect of facing the Maple Leafs this week, despite the recent win. Toronto is a team that has long given Montreal teams fits because of their unconventional style. And despite the fact Toronto is likely to discover that a team needs a goaltender and a defence to win the biggest prize, Montreal were not a team that has shown they could exploit those weaknesses.
The Senators also did a turn for their final opponent Bruins, as the faltering Boston outfit might have struggled against an invigorated Islanders squad. Instead, they now face a Maple Leafs team that is liable to be tempted into the physical battle that Boston is best equipped to win at the moment.
The Penguins should be happy enough too. The Senators were a team with a Vezina-calibre goalie and a Norris-toting defence. A team they would have to scrounge for offence against. No offence to Travis Hamonic, but Pittsburgh should feel comfortable in opening up a game or two in New York.
Habs fans also get a little present (I can say I've benefited already), in that the Scotiabank is a whole lot more accessible than the Bell Centre for live playoff action. To say nothing of atmosphere, the fact tickets were even available more than 2 minutes after they went on sale was a big boon to the aspiring playoff supporter.
Hockey Night in Canada will have been salivating over the Canadiens-Leafs, but you know any Leafs or Canadiens series gets viewers. By spreading their aces, the network should cash in on a tantalizing all-Canadian first rounder that even Leafs fans might tune into, and a very interesting Leafs-Bruins match-up. To boot, they get the Crosby-Tavares story which could potentially be a series we look to in the history books if things open up for one or both.
Sure, there may have been better ways to arrange the 8 Eastern rivals into optimal series (Boston-Montreal, Toronto-Ottawa, NYR-NYI and Pitts-Wash comes to mind), but none of these were available on the last night. The Sens did the best with what they had to work with. What's more, now these series that weren't drawn first hand are all on the table as things go forward to subsequent rounds.
I don't think I'll be so pro-Senators in the coming week, but for what they did last night, I'm a fan.