Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Where was Daniel Alfredsson? The man that we depend on, the man whom Ottawa has embraced as a city-wide hero was virtually absent from this game. Normally in these playoffs, Alfredsson at least bodychecks as much as possible; in this game, that aspect of his offense was missing... not to mention the passing and scoring.
Could it be that the Senators have relied on the Spalfedheat line so much that when they're missing, the rest of the team combined cannot muster a goal? I'm afraid it is the case.
From a fan's perspective I am extremely disappointed. There was more yelling and (angry!) cursing during this game than in any of the Senators previous playoff games. The Ducks were beating the Senators to the puck in nearly every situation, and, worse yet, the Senators were unable to strip them of the puck in the sens' end.
On a positive note, Ray Emery was outstanding and inserting Saprykin into the lineup was a stroke of genius by Bryan Murray. Despite these standouts the team as a whole did not show up for Game 2.
I said to my roommate during the second intermission that if the Senators did somehow win this game, they certainly wouldn't deserve it. Well they didn't win - so I guess they deserve that. From the way that they played, they set themselves up to lose the game. In order to win this series, something has to get this team out of the rut. Returning to Ottawa will help, of that I'm sure, but it will not cure the Sens problems.
There is no more 'laughing it off' anymore. There is a serious problem with the way the team is playing. Now, we only have 1 more opportunity to turn this series around. I didn't think this series would be easy, but the Senators are certainly making it alot harder for themselves.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Best post-game headline has to be awarded to the Ottawa Sun.
Let's not forget that this is just game 1. I thought after the game there would be a sense of calm... let's remember that the Senators are in it for the long haul, and that they haven't lost 2 games in a series in these playoffs. Still, the alarmists on the call-in shows and in the papers want to cruxify all the team members... *sigh* Haven't you been watching these playoffs? Just wait for Heatley et al to catch fire - don't forget they had to travel back in time to play in Anaheim - that's gotta mess with pre-game preparations.
Whether or not they win game 2, I think that returning to Ottawa is going to be a big boost for the club. There's a giant Daniel Alfredsson on the top of City Hall right now... just wait till he sees that!
The Sens are tough this year.
Game 2's time for them to get going.
Monday, May 28, 2007
The sens' defenders have to do a better job of keeping the Ducks' forward away from the next, and not allowing them to hack at Emery's glove following the inital stop.
On the bright side, we came real close to tieing the game. If not for a great glove save by J.S. Giguere, I would still be sitting on the front lawn at City Hall, bathing in the smoke (cigar, cigarette and 'other') of people who want to take every opportunity to light up when in close proximity to others.
I will leave further analysis to the rest of the Sens Army team tomorrow. I'm sure they will have lots to say.
No party on Elgin tonight I guess. Monday's not really a party day anyway. We'll see what sort of shinanigans happen on Wednesday - it IS the new Friday, after all.
Alright folks, here's your Sens Army Official 2007 Stanley Cup Final Series Preview, so buckle up:
This series marks the first Stanley Cup Final between two 90s-era expansion teams, and it sure looks like it will be a battle of the titans. A lot of professionals (and amateurs, no doubt) picked one or both of these two teams to face-off in the Stanley Cup Final, and now it's finally happened. I'm still in disbelief this time has actually come, so maybe it's not the best time to go over the series, but I'm going to anyway.
The key to this series, for Anaheim, is shutting down Spalfredheat. That has also been the key for Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Buffalo, but they haven't been able to. The only game in which that line didn't score a goal was the Sens' Game-Five loss to Buffalo. So who know what will happen is Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer (whoever plays against them) can keep them quiet?
For Ottawa, the problem will be finding a way around the big D of Anaheim, and then beating Jean-Sebastien Giguere. It has been said that Giguere has trouble moving side-to-side, and so the Senators must use their speed and passing to take advantage of that. As for the a lot of the defencemen, Ottawa will have to play their game wherever possible. If Christoph Schubert and Chris Neil, to name a few, are able to punish the defence, and Ottawa forwards are able to use their speed against slower D (Pronger and Francois Beauchemin), there is automatically an advantage that will add to the short bench that Anaheim employs.
One thing is certain: special teams will play a key role in this series. They always do. And while Anaheim had better numbers on both powerplay and penalty-kill in the regular season, Ottawa's running away with the playoffs. The Sens have a 20 per cent success rate on the PP, compared to 15.3 for the Ducks, and Ottawa has killed off 88.6 per cent of short-handed situations, against 87.5 for Anaheim.
Another key factor, of course, is depth scoring. If somehow the Ducks do find a way to keep Spalfredheat quiet, then Ottawa second- and third-liners including Mike Fisher, Peter Schaefer, Mike Comrie, Antoine Vermette, and Neil will need to step it up. I'm going to highlight Schaefer and Comrie especially, for really having slowed down (although Comrie did have a good first round). I'm also going to exempt Chris Kelly from that call-out, because he has so many other contributions (penalty killing, peer-interviewee, empty-net-goal scoring) for the team. On the other side of the coin, Anaheim has been dipping into their second line for scoring all year, and that will half to continue.
Finally, what factor will fatigue play? Steve Simmons, of the Toronto Sun as well as TSN's The Reporters, called the Ducks' roster “the shortest bench in hockey”; will that have a cumulative effect after a long regular season and a couple of playoff rounds? Probably. Especially when it's combined with the fact that these teams will be so screwed up after all the time-zone changes.
Anaheim finished second overall in the West, three points behind Detroit with a 48-20-14 record for 110 points. Ottawa finished fourth in the East (48W, 25L, 9OTL, 105P).
Ottawa: 15GP, 12W, 3L, 48GF, 31GA
Emery: 15GP, 1.95GAA, 0.919SP, 3SO
- Heatley: 15GP, 6G, 15A, 21P
- Spezza: 15GP, 7G, 13A, 20P
- Alfredsson: 15GP, 10G, 7A, 17P
- Redden: 15GP, 2G, 6A, 8P
- Corvo: 15GP, 2G, 6A, 8P
Anaheim: 16GP, 12W, 4L, 42GF, 34GA
Giguere: 13GP, 1.87GAA, 0.931SP, 0SO
- Pronger: 15GP, 3G, 11A, 14P
- Getzlaf: 16GP, 5G, 8A, 13P
- Selanne: 16GP, 5G, 7A, 12P
- Pahlsson: 16GP, 2G, 8A, 10P
- Perry: 16GP, 4G, 5A, 9P
Ben and I were honoured with an invitation from Bob Coatsworth to participate in a hockey pool pitting the brilliant minds of Ottawa Senators bloggers against those of the Anaheim Ducks. Three pickers per side, and the Senators team also included Senator42 from sensfanintoronto.com. Our noble opponents included Finny from girlwithapuck.com, Anaheim Duck Fan from AnaheimDuckFan.blogspot.com, and Daniel from ducksblog.net.
The rules were as follows:
Each blogger drafted seven players (Ottawa and Anaheim drafts were held separately), but they could only draft players from the team they support. The blogger who accumulates the most points during the Stanley Cup wins the pool. Simple as that. Some cool 2007 Stanley Cup Champs merchandise is up for grabs for the winner, but the pool is mainly for pride. I'll update the standings after each game of the Finals.
Scoring: Goals and assists are worth one point each. Goalie wins are worth one point and a goalie shutouts are worth three points.
Tiebreakers: Should there be a tie at the end:
- Tiebreaker #1: Team has to have won the Stanley Cup.
- Tiebreaker #2: Total number of goals/wins.
So, without further ado, here are the picks (in order of draft position):
TorPeteO: Emery, Neil, Redden, Comrie, Schaefer, Volchenkov, Schubert
Senator42: Alfredsson, Fisher, Eaves, McAmmond, Preissing, Meszaros, Saprykin
Ben: Spezza, Heatley, Corvo, Phillips, Vermette, Kelly, Gerber
AnaheimDuckFan: Pronger, Selanne, Perry, R. Niedermayer, O'Donnell, Motzko, Carter
Daniel: Beauchemin, Penner, Giguere, Moen, Marchant, Huskins, Shannon
Finny: Getzlaf, S. Niedermayer, McDonald, Pahlsson, Jackman, May, S. Thornton
We'll try to update the pool rankings as often as possible, hopefully after every game. You can also visit thescore.ca and read Bob Coatsworth's blog for up-to-the-minute draft rankings.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Although the Ducks are well known for their defence, who is their most consistent scorer? Are you worried that your top scorer is a defenseman?
Battle of California:
Hmm, putting answers in my mouth already, eh? Among the forwards these playoffs, probably our most consistent scorers have been the PPG line, or the "kids" (Penner, Perry, Getzlaf). Not so much in that they actually score every game, but they can be absolute monsters along the offensive boards each and every game. Partially what explains this is that the Selanne line naturally draws the best defenders, and the kids get to go nuts against lighter competition. Among defensemen of course it's Pronger--he runs the power play with Scott, and he gets enough touches at even-strength to get on the scoreboard regularly. Am I bothered by Pronger scoring as a defenseman? Hell no! Remember, the Ducks played against this guy in the WCF last year, and the difference when he's on your side is enormous.
2. How would you compare Giguere's performance this year as opposed to his Conn Smythe-winning year?
No comparison. 2003 was a story that even on his best night can't be replicated. They should take that footage of Giguere in the first three rounds and show it in history classes--sure he was a big goalie but he was in the exact right spot for every shot. And there were a TON of shots. Critics I think focus too much on his pads and ignore his positioning, and that year he had both going to their fullest. I don't want to knock this year at all, though. He's been great, but he also has a better team in front of him than ever before. Long gone are the 40-save days of yore. The real benefit I think Giguere gets these days is his defense controlling his rebounds--the Ducks are much better at it this year than in any Mighty year. Still, he's absolutely money in critical situations and is a real stabilizing force on the ice; he still is in my opinion one of the top five goalies in the league. I'll say this: if I had to choose between re-signing Selanne or re-signing Giguere (and this is probably a real upcoming scenario), I'd have to take Giguere. He guarantees that you won't fall apart at your most critical position.
3. Other than Giguere, who's having an outstanding playoff this year? Who's underachieving?
The checking line (Pahlsson centering Rob Niedermayer and Moen) has been outstanding--they are having a better playoffs than regular season, and I was damn proud of them then. They are essentially shadows that will take all the hardest minutes at even-strength and short-handed. The Spezza trio will definitely be seeing a ton of these guys. Quite simply, they have the ability to make guys disappear from the scoresheet--not always, but they can do it for stretches. Their real knack is making opposing scorers play defense, and they have been producing. Pahlsson is a +6 and is fourth in team scoring. Underachieving would probably be the top line, mainly Andy McDonald. Ever since I threw my hat on the ice in G1 against Vancouver, Andy Mac has been extremely quiet on the scoresheet--1 goal and 1 assist in his last 10 games. Sure the top line is always getting the attention of the opposition's best stoppers (and don't get me wrong--that in itself is pretty huge), but in the regular season they were able to overcome it and score like crazy. Last year in the playoffs, McDonald went through a slump like this one and later it was revealed he was injured, but I'm not sure that's the case this time--the line looks good despite not producing as much as it could, but I'll credit some great defenses and some great goalies for holding Teemu and Andy Mac in check. The top line lost Chris Kunitz for the playoffs in G1 at Detroit to a broken hand, but Todd Marchant has filled in smoothly.
4. How do the Ducks intend to shut down the top-scoring line in the NHL playoffs?
Tons and tons of Pahlsson. The checking line has been doing this exact sort of assignment since game one of the season. Carlyle mixes his lines every once in a while, but one thing that he refuses to touch is Pahlsson-Moen-Niedermayer. They have played all 82 regular-season and all 16 playoff games together without any line-juggling and without any injury, and they know their roles to a T. On the back-end, I'm unsure which pairing Carlyle will prefer. If it were me, I'd put Pronger and O'Donnell out--they are goal deterrents also. Detroit didn't score a single power play goal or even-strength goal with Pronger out on the ice. Even so, Carlyle often declines my advice and uses Scotty Niedermayer and Frenchie Beauchemin instead. Not a bad option, really, as Scotty brings a lot of recovery speed and puck smarts, and Beauchemin isn't any slouch either. I'm guessing you'll see these two against Spezza & friends, and Pronger can go frustrate somebody else.
5. Who is the Ducks' hidden weapon? The one that the Sens may not have heard of, but should watch out for.
You've probably heard of him, but watch out for Corey Perry. Sure, Getzlaf is all the rage and he's been playing tremendous hockey these playoffs. But Perry is the sneak, the whiner, the diver, and the sniper. He can dazzle with the puck, then get pulled awkwardly down into the goalie, then tie up a defenseman trying to get up, then snatch the puck and roof it. Opponents hate Perry, and probably rightfully so, but he can be damn effective. He can act with confidence, also, with the knowledge that he won't have to fight his own fights; these are the punch-loving Ducks, after all.
6. Who is on the Ducks' top scoring line? Are they significantly better than the other lines?
In the regular season and start of the playoffs, it was Selanne-McDonald-Kunitz. Replacing Kunitz now is Marchant. Teemu and Andy Mac are fantastic together; they really have that connection that Kariya and Selanne used to have--speed and space. They are fantastic at stop-and-start plays, and both can really turn on the jets. This playoffs, though, they haven't been better than the PPG line, or probably even better than the checking line. Again, though, they do occupy the opponent's best checkers, so there's still a contribution being made. And they are creating chances still--I wouldn't stop defending them by any means. The last time I really saw the top line struggle like this was at the start of the season. Teemu only got 1 goal in October, yet each line chipped in goals from different players and the team didn't suffer a regulation loss until its 17th game. And that's the same kind of team I'm seeing now, almost frighteningly balanced--the top two lines have 27 points apiece while the checking line has 26.
7. How would the City of Anaheim reacted if the Ducks had lost their series against the Red Wings?
Two ways to answer this question. First off, the city of Anaheim as a whole would be mostly oblivious--hockey here is still an underground sport shared among individuals. By no means would you go up to someone in Anaheim and assume they knew the Ducks were in the Cup Finals, but you could probably assume they root for Vlad Guerrero or Kobe Bryant. The market is coming along, though, and it certainly helps that the team is winning. For Duck fans, though, there's probably two teams we detest losing to more than any other--the Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings. It would certainly have been a painful loss, tempered by the positives of reaching the conference finals again and losing to a 1-seed.
8. How much do you love Brian Burke? A whole bunch?
Hell yes, especially when I look around the league and see how other GMs mismanage their cap and rosters. Plus he's a really good personality to have in Southern California--a tough guy blowhard lawyer, a great fit! I will say this, though. In my mind, I've still maintained that Bryan Murray still retains the best GM in team history for what he did in 2003--everything he touched turned to gold that year. He acquired Adam Oates, Petr Sykora, Sandis Ozolinsh, Rob Niedermayer, and Steve Thomas over the course of the season and all proved critical in the team's cup run. When Oates retired and Kariya ditched the team after G7, Murray nabbed Fedorov and Prospal, probably the two best free agents available at the time, which I'll also give him credit for even though it didn't work out. Plus he drafted Getzlaf and Perry and signed the undrafted Penner. Sure, Burke has had his moments, but Pronger pretty much fell into his lap last summer, and he held Rob Niedermayer at the exact right moment to sign Scott. And he probably was more lucky than prophetic on the Selanne deal. But I got no qualms with Burke--he's molded his team and I like the results.
9. If the Ducks don't win the Cup, is Pronger's wife gonna be pissed and make him request a trade?
Hell, she might request it even if they win. Honestly, I have no insight into this, other than it's probably unlikely that they'd pull the same maneuver twice. Then again, nobody in Edmonton saw it coming, either...
Thanks to the Battle of California for the interview! Good luck in the Finals! ...no seriously, I hope they die.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
First, let's look at the really impressive stats Emery has compiled over the course of the playoff run:
- Wins: Rayzor leads all playoff goaltenders with 12 wins. Obviously a deceptive stat in the playoffs since only two goalies can get that many, but still impressive.
- Shutouts: Big Ray has three shutouts. So does Marty Turco. I picked both of them in one of my hockey pools, but I'm still not winning. Where's the justice? Anyway, one of the shutouts was in the series-clinching game against Pittsburgh, and the two others in that oh-so pivotal swing game, Game Three.
- Goals-Against Average: While he's only 5th in the league, any GAA that is below two (and Emery's is 1.95) is pretty darned good. Also, in series-clinching games, Emery's GAA drops to 1.28.
- Assists: Sure, this is a pretty meaningless stat in most cases, but Emery has as many assists as the rest of the goaltenders in the league COMBINED! Two assists. One assist came on the game-winning goal in Game Four of Round Two against the Devils--pretty good contribution--and the other was on the fourth goal of Ottawa's Game Two 4-2 victory against the Penguins.
The biggest contribution from Rayzor, though, appears to be that attitudinal change I was talking about. This team seems immune to all of the confidence-busting happenings of the past (knock on wood). Surrendering quick leads (happened in Game Two against the Sabres); marathon overtime games (also in Game Two of the ECFs); losing games they should have won (like in Game Two of Round One, when the Sens outshot the Pens 37-21); questionable hits resulting in dangerous injuries (like Colby Armstrong on Patrick Eaves in game three of Round One); plenty of people predicting impending collapse of the team; weaker-than-expected goaltending gaffs; the whole kit and kaboodle.
This team seems to have the same confidence that Emery exudes when he publicly declares that Buffalo is boring, or when he wears pinstripes, or unapologetically slashes someone in the face, or fights with one of the league's premiere heavyweights after pummeling the opposing goaltender, or wears more ice on his ears than there is on the ice, or consistently pisses of referees by intentionally placing his waterbottle away from the holder, or has a perfect 1-0 record after crashing his Hummer and missing the team charter, or any of the other crazy stuff Ray Emery has done in the last few months. It doesn't really matter what has happened in the recent past, the only thing that matters is the next game. And that's the exact mindset that every team needs in the playoffs, so hopefully it continues for the foreseeable future.
Friday, May 25, 2007
- StarCraft! Oh the memories I have of you.
- Santa Claus! He's jolly, he's fat and he's a fan of Little People, Big World on TLC.
- Stratum Corneum! Your top layer of skin. "Dude your SC is showing!"
- Senior Citizen! See: Detroit Red Wings.
- Spontaneous Combustion! What happens if your gassy and don't let it out.
- SHOUTcast! Letting you play all the music no one wants to hear, 24/7.
- Securities (and Exchange) Commission! The reason Eugene Melnyk decided it was a good time to retire.
- Student Council! Where all the popular kids went at lunch to inter-breed.
- South Carolina! See: Place below North Carolina
- Santa Cruz! Tom Cruise's nickname in the Scientology community. (Or a province in Argentina)
- Soft Core! The type of entertainment at night on the french channel (Cable 11) in Ottawa.
- Santé Canada! Because this wasn't an HC acronyms list.
- Southern Comfort! My friend if the finals don't go as planned.
- Soul Calibur II! I rock at that game, but only with Raphael.
- Sexual Content! Two letters on a movie box that lets you know it'll be good.
Feel free to add more.
All Rights Reserved. 2007
Not only is my team... or our team as it were... about to compete for the ultimate prize in hockey (yes this is way more important to me than an Olympic Gold Medal not that I remember what that really looks like recently... thanks Wayne) but I've also had a very successful ride through the playoffs this year in calling the outcomes.
Thanks to the Ottawa and Anaheim victories in the Conference Finals, my record now stands at 13-1, better than any TSN or ESPN "Expert Analyst" (the latter being a much easier feat to accomplish than the former.) So with just one series left it doesn't take Ms. Cleo to decipher who i see in my final prediction:
Stanley Cup Final - Ottawa vs Anaheim
I'll make this short and sweet.
- Anaheim has two very big names on the blue line, but Ottawa's overall team defence is stronger. Defence advantage Ottawa.
- While I love Ray Emery, J.S. Giggy is one of a kind and can steal games like Hasek and Roy did in their prime. Goaltending advantage Anaheim.
- Frankly I don't even feel i need to compare this field. Offence advantage Ottawa.
- Have you seen our fricken penalty kill? The PP hasn't be amazing recently but if that starts to click again, lookout. Special Teams advantage Ottawa.
Either way Ottawa brings home the Cup, in 5 or 6 Games.
On an unrelated topic... I just want to say one thing. I'm not a journalist; I don't get paid to write fairly about sports or to give both sides of something. Look at the name of this blog... clearly everything you get here is... or in my opinion at least should be... biased. Frankly I feel I've seen way too much Ottawa doubting on here for the past couple weeks. Now I'm not naming any names... but where is the undying biased loyalty that your team is always the best team in the existence of the world no matter if they're last in the league or win the Stanley Cup. Come on now:
"I was feeling pretty down about our chances against Anaheim"
''Simply, this game the bounces went in Buffalo's favour. What does this mean for the series? Well, it means the bounces have been going in Ottawa's favour 3 times as often as the Sabres"
"Whereas Ottawa seems to be enjoying their ride to the Final, the Ducks seem determined to capture the Cup, and nothing less"
"We won the last game by one crappy goal. One! Not four. So let's not say that we've been kicking their asses across the ice, because with a couple of changes, last game could have gone to the Sabres 3 - 1"
Maybe it's just my mentality, but "Sens Army" should be about undying, partial, prejudice commentary on why our team is the most life changing thing since peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
Cheers folks, Enjoy the finals... which still don't start for another 3 fricken days!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I heard it was going on through facebook and decided to check out the rally to see if anything was actually going on. Once again, the City closed down a road and allowed the revelers their own space to party down. The Mayor, Larry "Skeletor" O'Brien was there abusing his position on stage to repeatedly say that Ottawa is the best city in Canada, despite the constantly rising taxes and service cuts (somehow those go hand-in-hand here!).
But there was alot to be happy about. A ton of people showed up with signs and homemade Stanley Cups. A plane flew over the downtown core pulling a sign, "Bring Stanley Home," it said. This city is getting pumped.
Regionally-recognized hip-hop recording artist Belly was there to peform the creatively named song "Go Sens Go". It was pretty good despite the title - sucks to be the sens players that didn't get a shout-out during the song... Gerber, Preissing - sorry guys. A few former Senators showed up including Brad Marsh, Shaun Van Allen and, my personal favourite, Ron "Tugger" Tugnutt.
A banner was lowered from the roof of City Hall and is now draped across the building.
Unfortunately, no current sens players showed up. The crowd would have gone insane. Maybe next time. Major kudos to the organizers for putting this whole thing together in only 3 days. If I were the people running these facebook groups, I would be careful what I suggest - they seem to weild much power these days.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I was feeling pretty down about our chances against Anaheim until Detroit stormed back, scoring 3 goals in the 3rd period to make the game 4-3. I was thinking about the defence of Anaheim - Pronger, Niedermayer and Beauchemin. They will undoubtedly prove a challenge for the Spezza-Heatley-Alfredsson line. In goal, J-S Giguere, a goalie who has now twice proven himself amoung the elite of the NHL. On offence, before tonight's game, Pronger actually leads the team in points, followed by Ryan Getzlaf and Teamu Selanne.
An interesting side-note: Ducks' captain Scott Niedermayer barely acknowledged the Western Conference trophy following his team's win. This indicates a philosophical difference between the two teams: whereas Ottawa seems to be enjoying their ride to the Final, the Ducks seem determined to capture the Cup, and nothing less.
Playoff beard update - pre-Finals edition!
Although I haven't updated you all in a long, long time, I have resisted the urge to shave my beard and return from the wilderness. I have had to modify it at the request of certain parties, but the spriti of the beard remains - and it's not gone until we win the Cup!
Beard tips for those who want to take up the challenge next year:
- You will be shunned, try to accept it as early as possible.
- It is itchy at first but it goes away eventually.
- Don't be afraid to modify - you gotta live life too.
- Try to out-last a friend, I've had no one to complain with.
Apparantly the sens will have to make one more species extinct... GO SENS!
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sens fans on Parliament Hill - I was there. They sang the national anthem 3 times in the course of ten minutes. It was both funny and inspiring.
Sens fans welcome the team back to Ottawa at the airport after returning from Ottawa. The only one you can recognize is Alfredsson, and maybe Vermette.
The last two are the march on Elgin street towards Parliament Hill following the game. It was a really good time. If you're a sens fan in Ottawa, then you should definetly be there after the next Senators win.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Why was their fortune so different this year?
Win under pressure: Make no mistake, the Senators of old would not have won the two overtime games. Somehow this year's Senators found a calmness and a collective confidence that eluded previous versions of the team. Where did this resolve come from? Nearly every sports commentator in the continent points to Daniel Alfredsson. The captain has raised his game in the only department that truly matters: goals. With 10 goals in 15 games, Alfredsson has lead the team by example, even when other team-leaders like Dany Heatley and Peter Schaefer were practically invisible.
There is something very special about this goaltender. He may not be the most agile between the pipes, but he exudes the type of confidence and, dare I say, style that the Senators were looking for. This playoffs, I believe more than any other player, he has given the team an identity.
I could write volumes about the impact that Ray Emery has had on the team, the city and the conference. Let's look at the external influences. Emery somehow found a way to wring particular hatred out of the city of Buffalo. Yeah, Chris Neil may have nearly put Chris Drury into the hospital... but Ray Emery said the city was boring! Somehow the "concussion" thing didn't seem so bad. I can't explain the logic.
You can call him cocky, but I simply call it an impenetrable ego... an amazing gift if you can control it. Patrick Roy had the same sort of psyche - how else can you explain a goalie skating out to the blueline with the puck?
Even the city of Ottawa seems to have developped a bit of ego itself. The whole city seemed to come out of the bars of Elgin street to march to Parliament Hill. I expect this to happen after each of the Sens upcoming wins. The entire city celebrates when the Senators win. The city now has a taste of success, and they want more.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Editor's (Ben's ) Note: The Senators were only barely better than the Sabres in this game - I guess that's what overtime is for. What I really want to talk about is Elgin Street in Ottawa. Following the game a parade formed. A freaking parade. I'm not too good about estimates, but I'm going to say at least a thousand people marched from Ottawa's bar district to Parliament Hill. It was amazing, it showed what sports can do to a city, to allow us to rally around a single cause and show how proud we are of our team. Look for it tomorrow, it'll be all over the papers.
WE HAVE OUR RED MILE!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Now, I know that Sportsnet is a Toronto station, there aren't many stations in Canada that are not Toronto-based. I've always cut sportsnet slack because they hired Ian Mendes, a sens fan who isn't afraid to call Toronto on their shit (which I expect him to in a blog in the coming days). I also cut sportsnet slack because they pick up a few sens games during the regular season.
Then I read this article, Lang: "I'm just as dumb as McCormick".
Now I've had enough.
There is no reasonable explanation why a journalist would suggest this, other than pure dislike of our team. I can expect them to be bitter after their Leafs and their Canucks were beat out of the playoff, but this is no way to show support for the only Canadian team remaining. So I'm telling you this now, and I hope it makes its way back to whomever runs sportsnet. You're a second-rate TSN and I refuse to watch your station anymore. You have sworn your alliegences and they are clearly not with the city of Ottawa - not even in the slightest.
I'm sorry Ian.
This is putting the cart before the horse - getting it backwards. From what I saw of the game the Senators were not playing as fast as they can - this, in my opinion, was their major flaw from that game. But the sens have flaws every game, but they're normally just paved over by some other factor that led to their win.
So let's just call this game for what it was, a slight advantage from a desperate Sabres team. But this has been the case since game 1. Simply, this game the bounces went in Buffalo's favour. What does this mean for the series? Well, it means the bounces have been going in Ottawa's favour 3 times as often as the Sabres, that bodes well for us. Essentially, keep up the good effort and the law of averages should kick in next game - and we will have our victory - not because of any extraordinary effort, simply by the best team winning.
So don't let the final score fool you, the Senators played the same game they always have in these playoffs, but this time the other team won.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Anyway, it's been a rather unexpected series so far. Everyone's been saying how the Sabres failed to show up, and how the Senators have been dominating every aspect of the game, especially special teams.
Guys, let's keep this all in perspective. We won the last game by one crappy goal. One! Not four. So let's not say that we've been kicking their asses across the ice, because with a couple of changes, last game could have gone to the Sabres 3 - 1. Let that be a lesson for tonight's game: keep the pressure on the Sabres, and don't let them out of the trap that we've worked so hard to get them into.
I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen today about the way that Ottawa is celebrating our team's success. In Ottawa, there is no Red Mile. Yeah, there is no central place for sens fans to celebrate. But look where our arena is positioned! As shown in my sophisticated map - the freaking arena is an hour away from downtown! There isn't even a bar within walking distance of Scotiabank Place.
Ottawans (???) prefer to celebrate in their own ways. Bars are packed. Entire households stare for hours at their television, and the city becomes quiet during games. This is how we celebrate. Canada, get used to it. Also, there is The Market in downtown Ottawa that I hear is awesome to be at... maybe I should check that out. But I like the way I watch the game, two beers and a TV... sweet.
So keep up the awesome work sens! When we get into the finals, it may be the first instance of a crying high-five in my life.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Fast forward one year:
- They handed Ottawa the league's top point producer, Calder and Art Ross Trophy winning All-Star phenom, Sidney Crosby. Ottawa handed them a quick 5 game exit from the playoffs.
- They threw at Ottawa the Calder Trophy, 2-Time Veznia Trophy, 4-Time William M. Jennings Trophy, 3-Time Stanley Cup winning goalie Martin Brodeur. Ottawa threw them out in 5 more games.
- They dispatched the President's Trophy winning, high flying; Stanley Cup Favourite Buffalo Sabres to finally end Ottawa's season, and Ottawa dominates the series towards a 3-0 lead.
Talk about a role reversal, it's like that bad teen movie about the girl who switches bodies with her older (disturbingly more attractive) mother. They are the first seed, they are the powerhouse, they have Briere, Drury, Vanek, Pominville, Zubrus & Miller, they were the favourite, they were supposed to win.
I again had the pleasure of being part of the 20,000 plus people screaming at Scotiabank Place last night, and now having witnessed it in person, I think I've got an idea why Buffalo has given up. (And I do in fact believe they have been beaten down sufficiently that they hold little hope anymore, you could see it on their faces in the third period.)
2) This Ain't No Strawberry Social! If you come into the Eastern Conference Final thinking that your sheer talent is going to win you games without having to get down and dirty, well then your foolish. Game 3 saw way too many occasions where Buffalo players would not sacrifice themselves in order to make a play. Go figure, in a contact sport if you make a play you'll likely get hit. So if you're unwilling to take the hit as Briere & Afinogenov were on multiple occasions last night, then your not going to setup plays, and your not going to score. This isn't a cake walk boys... it's hockey!
3) This is OUR HOUSE... bitch! That's the mentality of the Ottawa defence. Anything past our blue line is their house and they don't like anyone tredin' in their crib, yo. They shut down center ice and cause turnovers, forcing Buffalo to play along the boards at which time Point 1 from above (see: Size Matters!) comes into play.
4) My Heart Will Go On! Cliché? Maybe, but anyone watching these games can see it. Ottawa wants it way more than Buffalo does. The heart of every Senators player on the ice is in the game, look no further than the Captain Alfie for the prime example. He fore-checks, he back-checks, he blocks shots, he takes hits, he chases pucks, he sets up plays, he scores. He is 100% in the game, every second of the game, and he is leading HIS team to their first Stanley Cup Final birth in modern franchise history.
Monday, May 14, 2007
You can see significant events that led to this year's sens. That includes the Yashin deal that scored the sens Jason Spezza and Zdeno Chara, as well as the Dany Heatley-Marian Hossa trade. So many of these deals had question marks, and they don't always turn out for the best, as the Alexandre Daigle clips will painfully remind us.
These clips are also a great reminder of hard-working Senators players who have left the team. Players such as Shawn McEachern, Shawn Van Allen and Magnus Arvedson. These are the players that brought the foundation of playoff success between 1998 and 2004 that the core of current Senators have been tasked to build on. I'll always remember the Damian Rhodes/Ron Tugnutt combo that brought the Senators their first taste of playoff success. These former Ottawa Senators are responsible for building the Ottawa fanbase and creating a winning franchise.
It's not just the long term trades that have brought the sens to within 2 wins of the Stanley Cup Finals, but also the signings of the past season. Players like Dean McAmmond and Joe Corvo brought a different perspective to the Senators - perspectives that apparantly were needed to help the team evolve.
To today's post isn't about trash talk, it's about retrospectives. Let's not forget how lucky we the fans are to have a great team, and we should remember that it's been 15 years in the making.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Game Two of the Eastern-Conference Quarter-Final game was just straight-up an incredible game. Even if the Sens had lost, these teams are soooo good that it doesn't matter who wins, it's going to be an awesome game. I was thinking when Ottawa was down 2-1 how bad I would feel for enjoying this game whether or not the Sens won. It was even better when the Sens won.
Apparently Bryan Murray is taking my advice and giving the fourth line more ice time, and they had another great game. Oleg Saprykin drew yet another penalty, setting up the Sens for a five-on-three power play on which the Sens would take their 3-2 lead.
How does a team allow a game-tying goal with six seconds left, and then bounce right back and completely carry the play throughout overtime? It was outstanding, and Buffalo had no business winning that game.
I think that I will send a thank-you letter to John Paddock and CC both Joe Corvo and Jason Spezza on it. According to Murray, it was Senators Assistant Coach Paddock's idea to put Corvo on the ice with Wade Redden after the Sabres' iced the puck in the second overtime, and the decision paid off. When Spezza pulled out an incredible faceoff win, the puck came right back to Corvo. After 'cupping his stick' so the puck wouldn't go a mile high, and then with a few bounces and deflections, Corvo scored that amazing goal that is now etched in our collective memories.
Credit also must go to Ray Emery, who made an absolutely incredible skate-blade save to keep the Sabres from taking a 3-2 lead in the third. Outstanding. More cred to Anton Volchenkov, who laid some track and gave Jason Pominville a ride on the A-Train, next stop: your face hitting the ice.
Potential tactical error for Jack Adams Trophy nominee Lindy Ruff. The coach of the Buffalo Sabres apparently laid the blame for that last goal on goaltender Ryan Miller. How is any goaltender supposed to make that save; there's no way to know where the puck is going. Ruff said something akin to "That's a save you hope Miller makes," insinuating that he should have made the save. Maybe the blame is more appropriate to lay on Chris Drury, for losing the faceoff; or maybe Ales Kotalik, for not sliding to block the shot; or maybe not blame your team, since they played amazingly well, and simply got outplayed.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Sabres were so sloppy all the sens could do was sit back and say 'oh yeah', then go on and win the game. 19 turnovers? That sounds like a value-packed breakfast item at a restaurant, but it makes for a rather pitiful defensive hockey game.
I expect tonight's game to be just as action packed, and I believe that this is an excellent opportunity for the Senators to win their first Game 2 of these playoffs. If we win tonight, then the Sabres may just be deflated for the rest of the series. They are the Senators of old, with growing expectations and frustrating playoff inconsistancy.
Does sens GM John Muckler look like a freaking genius right now or what?! Preissing is playing some awesome hockey, Corvo is chipping-in when needed and Oleg Freakin' Saprykin scores the game-winning goal in Game 1 of Round 3!
(btw: what an obvious and suprizingly fun nick-name! Originally Oleg got the title because we were supposed to get someone good at the trade deadline, ie: "...instead we got Oleg Freakin' Saprykin!", and now it has turned into a term of endearment).
Looking forward to tonight's game, I expect a much different Sabres team, and the first Game 2 win of these playoffs for the sens!
Friday, May 11, 2007
One mistake is excusable, two is... after lengthy soul searching... forgivable... but three? Now that’s just downright wrong. So indulge me while I tell you why the Excruciatingly Shitty Predictions Network (ESPN) should keep their so-called “experts” guessing what types of steroids Barry Bonds used, or what square area of paint you could watch dry as you endure the dead-air between the last “Strrrrrrrrrike!” and the upcoming “Ball!”
You know I should have been a little worried when I saw that all six of their experts picked the Sharks over Detroit in the second round... every single one... but I really didn’t pay much attention. And sure, I scratched my head a little when two of them took Calgary over Detroit... cause I sure thought that was one of the easy ones...
Oh but one of them has my attention now:
Meet E.J. Hradek. Not only did E.J., in his infinite wisdom, pick the Penguins over Ottawa, he then pick New Jersey over Ottawa, and has now picked Buffalo over Ottawa. With the rest of his picks during the first two rounds he’s running an overall record of 7-5, so that puts him right up there with.... hmmm... Maggie the Monkey! Congrats E.J., you can keep pace with a popcorn-eating primate; maybe she’ll help pick the bugs off you whenever it is you crawl out from the rock you’ve been living under.I’m not a huge TSN fan, but gosh please give me Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, or James Duthie over these thupah-stars any day.
For all the glorious ESPN predictions, go here.
Went to a bar to see this game and the place just exploded after Fisher scored the first goal, short-handed. It was beautiful. Maybe the underdog role does actually suit the sens... who knew?
Emery was great after taking some heat from the city of Buffalo. That's okay, Emery can take the heat and shine through it. He made a great shoulder save with only a few minutes left that allowed the sens to score the empty-net goal and seal tonight's win - mad props, mad props yo.
Tonight, I will be elated, and on Saturday I will wait with the same joyful expectation for another awesome hockey game... hopefully with the same result.
Booyah! Go sens!
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I've been reading alot of smack over the past couple days about how the Sabres are better. Namely this turd and a couple others. Alot of people are picking the Sabres - and there's no reason they shouldn't... except for the fact that the Sabres will not win this series.
Canada's response was this article from Canada.com - 8 reasons the Senators will win.
Also, Sean McCormick from sportsnet.ca gets absolutely molested on his blog when he picks the Sabres to win - read the comments.
Let's not forget that many people picked the Penguins to beat Ottawa. The freaking Penguins! The Senators did away with them in 5 games. The Senators then faced what was supposed to be a challenge in the New Jersey Devils. Again, the opponent was dispatched in only 5 games. What's that Sabres? You needed 6 games to defeat New York? That's too bad - they must have put a little scare in your mind. Good, good - we'll use that.
Little reminder: the Senators just beat Martin Brodeur. Who is this Miller guy? Why should we care? The sens found holes in one of the greatest goalies ever. What chance have you got?
They call us a one-line team... then obviously they're not paying enough attention. The Senators second the third lines are the jabs before the knockout blow. They hit you - hard. They will get the Sabres running around in their own zone. Then, the Sabres are tired, they're hurting. Send in Heatley - the top scorer in the playoffs. Haven't had to deal with that yet, eh Sabres?
Let me leave you with one final thought. Remember Cam Ward? Yeah, he's back - in black!
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
First Round Picks: Results:
New Jersey New Jersey
Atlanta New York
San Jose San Jose
Second Round Picks: Results:
Thus going into the third round I currently hold a record of 11-1... tied for first place with TSN.ca analysts Darren Dreger and Darren Pang. I'd also like to point out that ringer analyst Jeremy Roenick sits at 8-4 (one better than his VERY closely related primate friend Maggie).
But enough of this or that... without further ado let's look at the Conference Finals shall we?
Eastern Conference - Buffalo (1) vs Ottawa (4)
There are so many similarities between these two teams that it almost hurts my head. Goaltending that can be outstanding, or shaky. Immense breakout speed and potent offence, we're talking the league's two highest scoring teams here. So what does it come down to? Defense. At the day's end Ottawa has 2 (sometimes 3 if Redden and Mez wake up for the game) effective defence pairings, when it comes to their depth in defence other playoff teams are more than jealous. Will defence win it for Ottawa? Not single handily, but they will be the difference.
Ottawa advances to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Western Conference - Detroit (1) vs Anaheim (2)
Again two very similar teams can be found in the Western final. Both have very solid, proven, goaltending in Hasek and J.S. Giggy. Both have defensemen that could easily be found on a Wheaties box... even if that box is a few years old... in Lidstrom & Chelios of the Wings and Pronger & Niedermayer of the Ducks. Both teams even are/were coached by Mike Babcock! And with Detroit having a bit tougher road this post-season (Calgary & San Jose VS Nashville & Vancouver), Anaheim is just a little healthier, a little more rested, and a little more physical, and that gives them the edge.
Anaheim advances to the Stanley Cup Finals.