Friday, October 30, 2009

What's up with the Sens? They're missing their best players

What is up with the Sens lately? I guess it doesn't matter how many goals Jason Spezza contributes, they need him on the ice to produce offence at all.

Who has TSN2? Honestly... It must be part of the cable package for people who can't stand to miss an all-Texas NBA game. Go Spurs. Sorry, it just sucks that I missed a Sens win a couple days ago, and a Raptors game tonight. Blerg!

I've got half a mind to put H1N1 On Notice... we'll see about that tomorrow. It all depends on whether Pascal Leclaire plays or not.

Here's my prediction for the Sens game on Saturday:

Atlanta 4-3 Ottawa

I believe that Ottawa will miss Jason Spezza and Anton Volchenkov more than Altanta misses Ilya Kovalchuk. It hurts them more offensively and defensively than Kovalchuk's absense hurts the Thrashers, who started off the season with an impressive 4-1 record. The Thrashers' most recent losses have all been by one goal. If Pascal Leclaire misses this game too, it's a done deal. I wouldn't trust Alex Kovalev with my Halloween candy, let alone a whole game's worth of offence.

Send me your predictions. I've been doing terribly recently. Hey - if you send me your prediction for the game on Thursday against the Lightning in the comments (jeez, them again?!), I'll send it in to the Ottawa Citizen blog word-for-word.

Here's hoping it's a happy Halloween for the Senators.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Panthers fans on suicide watch = Sens win tonight

Here's my prediction for tonight's Sens game against the Florida Panthers.

Senators 3-0 Panthers

The Panthers are among the worst teams in the league. They've managed to score the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference, and Thomas Vokun has a GAA of 3.60 (don't even ask about Clemmenson). The Sens will be getting Filip Kuba back from the flu, and while Pascal Leclaire may not play because of illness, Brian Elliott played well against the Bruins. Should be a standard win for Ottawa.

Here's what a blogger on the Panthers' official website has to say about the team's season so far...
But even being the eternal optimist that I am, it’s getting harder and harder to come to grips with the reality of the hole we’re digging ourselves into. I know it’s still relatively early and there is a lot of hockey left to be played. But as the past has shown us, a poor start is often difficult to overcome; and barring a huge shake-up, a really poor start is nearly impossible to overcome.
After so many years of losing, the fans of this team need, no, DESERVE a winner...But at the moment, I think most of us would just settle for a little hope. However, hope has been pretty hard to come by lately. Dropping six of our first nine games is taking its toll on our fans. It’s not just the poor start that has us in a bad way; it’s the poor start combined with the futility of the last decade. I think it’s come to the point where Panthers fans actually expect this team to lose.
It’s tough being a loyal, die-hard fan of a team that perennially disappoints. And it’s equally tough to look at the schedule ahead and not see any relief in sight. We currently look up at 28 teams in the league, so there are not going to be any easy games in the near future. It’s almost like we play as if we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like we’re passing the time until the other team comes back and takes our win away…
Someone find this guy and keep him away from sharp objects, tall buildings, toasters and bathtubs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Karlsson put in car seat for long drive to Bingo

Erik Karlsson as been assigned to the Binghamton Senators until he grows up. I mean, uhh... until his testicles descend. I mean... DAMMIT, JUST BE BIGGER!

GM Bryan Murray made his decision today: Karlsson needs to be a better defender before he plays defence for the Ottawa Senators (kind of makes sense, eh?). Apparently, the kid took it kind of hard, but he's not Russian or anything so we'll probably see him again next year.

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Karlsson will have in Bingo. One thing's for sure: they're set for defencemen for the next couple of years. The Baby Sens already have Brian Lee, will soon have Karlsson leading their powerplay, and can expect Jared Cowen next season. That's a lot of potential on the blueline that the Ottawa club will one day benefit from.

Just be patient, Sens fans, he'll grow up one day.

PS: Here's what a small group of Sens fans said in a hastily assembled poll.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Verdict on Karlsson

This blog has been admittedly divided over Ottawa Senators rookie defenceman Erik Karlsson. On one hand, he's supremely talented and has put his skills on full display during the Senators' preseason and recent games. On the other, he's been sloppy defensively and has a hard time keeping up with bigger NHL forwards.

With the magic 10-game mark fast approaching, Sens GM Bryan Murray has to decide whether to keep the kid or lend him to the AHL Senators or, perhaps, to a Swedish League team.

With Filip Kuba returning to the Sens' lineup soon (hopefully), the pressure is definitely on to make a decision soon.

Here's what I've said in recent posts, starting with the earliest:

September 19:

Over 21 minutes played and a +3 night for Erik Karlsson.

September 21 (Entitled "Send Karlsson to Bingo"):

I know that Erik Karlsson is The Great Blond Hope, and probably the Ottawa Senators best prospect since Jason Spezza, but from what I've seen of his defensive skill, he's just not ready to take on the towering, powerful forwards of the NHL.

September 30:

I'm rather surprised that Erik Karlsson has, so far, beaten out Brian Lee for a roster spot (as you know, Lee was returned to Bingo a couple days ago). Cory Clouston and the other coaches must really like what they see from Special K.

October 3:

Erik Karlsson is the great blond hope. When was the last time a rookie defender made the Senators opening night squad? Wade Redden? That was 13 years ago! Even if he doesn't stick with the big club this season, Karlsson has already shown us he's got the talent to play in the NHL one day.

October 5:

Erik Karlsson? The kid has poise and moves on the powerplay, but his flaws were on full display as well. Maybe a few more games in the NHL will progress his defensive game, but I'm not sure he'll stick around that long.

October 15:

After a win tonight, and a game on Saturday night against the Habs, you won't find bored hockey writers speculating about the future of Erik Karlsson. I think Bryan Murray will do what he thinks is best, and with modern free agency rules, he's probably going to the minors (or back to Sweden) no matter how well/poorly he plays. Probably.

What's your verdict?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

No good reason to boo Chara

Watching last night's game against the Boston Bruins, there were a couple of Ottawa Senators fans that boo'ed Zdeno Chara. A very Leaf-like gesture that I very much frown upon.

Let's examine the situation: Chara was among the league's best defencemen when he played for the Senators from 2001-06. He left the team when he asked for lots of money, and the Senators chose to spend a little less and get a lot less with Wade Redden. Let's not argue over the different interpretations of the scenario.

In last night's game, Sens fans boo'ed Chara. Why? ...Anyone?

Other than leaving the team and being a great defencemen, Chara in no way disrespected the Ottawa Senators or their fans. He did not ask to be traded in the middle of a contract, and he did not say anything bad about Ottawa on his way out.

Your boos reek of jealousy. Much like when the Leafs fans boo Daniel Alfredsson for a long-forgotten and absolutely hilarious on-ice act (which I wish I could find on youtube), the act doesn't fit the crime.

Chara is a great defencemen and a great captain for the Boston Bruins. His time in Ottawa was well-served and he doesn't deserve to be harassed when he returns to the city where he played extremely well for so many years.

Let's be better than Leafers, Sens fans. Don't be a playa hater.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tip of the Hat / Wag of the Finger

I think I could drink a whole pit of coffee and not think of a single especially interesting storyline for tonight's game against the Boston Bruins, when compared to the Ottawa Senators' last game against the Nashville Predators. That game is still stuck in my mind. Too bad they lost.

And it's hard to say that results are not mixed when your team climbs back into a game that they were down 3-0, and manage to lose 6-5.

Tip of the Hat:

Each of them scores about three goals a year, and it's safe to say that Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov have never scored a goal in the same period. They were +4 and +3 respectively on the game as a whole. That's to say nothing of their defensive contribution so far this year, which has been outstanding.

Jason Spezza:
With three assists against the Predators, Spezza effectively shut up Nick Kypreos and everyone else that was questioning his offensive contribution. (C'mon people, he always has twice as many assists as goals by the end of the season.) The media hoard has moved onto Jonathan Cheechoo now--I'm sure they're just checking names off the roster.

Nick Foligno:
He certainly had his most visible game of the season against the Predators, being both offensive threat and effective pugilist. His penalty trouble came at the worst time in the game, but that can be forgiven if he maintains this pace.

Wag of the Finger:

Matt Carkner:
He made Bryan Murray look like an ass by coming up with his worst performance of the year immediately after signing that nice new contract. He was ineffective as an aggressive hockey player and slow on defence. Sorry Matt - better is expected of full-time NHL defencemen. PS: He was a game-worst -4 vs the Preds (Hat Tip to Anonymous commentor in last blog).

Pascal Leclaire:
I'm as big a PL fan as anyone on earth (planned tattoo: "PL 4 Life or 'till 2012! woo!") but allowing three goals in the first period is unacceptable. I know, I know: the Sens were playing like total crap, but that doesn't excuse a goalie letting six goals get past him. I fully expect him to be back on track tonight against the Bruins (edit: Apparently Elliott gets the start in net tonight. Thanks commentor!), but if he lets in three during the first period, no amount of magic-goal-light-on-ice will save the Sens.

Jonathan Cheechoo:
Just score one goal. Please.

If you're a Twitterer, send me your thoughts during tonight's game @sensarmyblog

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Carkner only athlete who deserves to make $1-million: poll

A strange combination of factors has led to an absolutely dead Senators new cycle for the past few days.

A) No games being played;
B) No disgruntled Senators players at the moment;
C) No goaltending controversy;
D) No one cares about Ilya Zubov (Didn't he demand to be traded anyway?).
E) No one dislikes Matt Carkner (He's the only player ever that deserves to make more than $1-million in a career, says Sun readers)

So here's my pick for the game versus the Smashville (that's their campaign, I swear) Predators. Apparently, they make time around their shifts serving food / greeting guests at McDonald's to play hockey (low blow!).

Senators 5 - 1 Predators

The Sens will spank the Predators. Nashville has only scored 10 goals in their seven games so far, and though they've put up a good fight against solid teams like Buffalo and Washington, their last few losses have been tough and disappointing. It doesn't hurt the Sens' chances that they're well rested and coming off an inspired win, while the Preds were being beaten up by the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

(Check out the Hockey Capital blog before the game for more picks. I'm rising up through the ranks after a couple off-games.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rid of bad eggs, Senators flourishing

Could it be that Bryan Murray's master plan is working?

The Senators rushed goaltender Pascal Leclaire following their win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, looking every bit the gelling unit that they're meant to be at this point of the season.

Things are coming together nicely right now. Leclaire was coming off another solid game; Alex Kovalev gave Habs fans every reason to want him back; The past couple of games, the Sens increased depth has given the team a new dimension.

Getting rid of a few so-called bad eggs has apparently done wonders for the club.

I've never been a subscriber to the notion that players like Ray Emery or Dany Heatley can single-handedly bring about the downfall of a hockey team. Especially considering the fact that, in both cases, main-stream journalists have been reluctant to explicitly state the reason for their departure (moreso for Emery, but I'm sure there's another story for Heatley). Emery can't be blamed for the inconsistent play of Martin Gerber, and Heatley can't be blamed for the Senators only having one line capable of scoring.

But rather than dwelling on the past, Murray looked forward.

There are no stories about Sens players running amok in Hummers these days. It's all about hockey. And that's exactly the way that Murray planned it. The team is playing well, and the players seem to be focused on winning each game.

The Sens are a long, long way from Stanley Cup contenders these days, but at least we're hearing more about the team and less about the troubles of individual players. And apparently, that leads to wins.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Win over Habs most important yet

Saturday night's 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens was undoubtedly the Ottawa Senators' most important win of the season so far.

Put all the 'Alex Kovalev returns to Montreal' storylines to the side for one moment (they never mattered much anyway) and let's look at the stats and players behind the victory.

This was the Senators first win over a team that qualified for the playoffs last season. Losses to Pittsburgh and New York kept the Sens out of the playoff picture for the moment, but this win will boost the expectations of players and observers slightly. Where do the Sens fit into the Eastern Conference rankings now? Let's wait and see if they can beat New Jersey or Philadelphia in early November.

The Senators swept the game's three stars, and with good cause. The first star was Pascal Leclaire. In the first intermission, Daniel Alfredsson commented to CBC that there was a large shift in team mentality with Chuck in net, and this game was a perfect example. When the Sens were holding on to a 2-1 lead through most of the second and third periods, Leclaire was never panicked and extremely consistent.

(FACT: Pascal Leclaire only wears goalie equipment because he would get too many shutouts if he played naked. He doesn't want to make other players look silly.)

The Senators' third and fourth lines are playing waaaaaay above expectations. This used to be a one-line team. Now we're got four. That's quite a turn-around. Credit to Cory Clouston and Bryan Murray (You gotta give it when it's due).

Did I mention Alfredsson? Of course I did. He leads the team with nine points in seven games. He doesn't get older, he just gets better. (Guess who's second and third in team scoring? Mike Fisher and Jarkko Ruutu!)

Of course, those points from Kovalev didn't hurt at all. That's what he was brought in to do. Put the Sens over the top in games that could have gone either way. That added offensive talent, combined with solid goaltending from Chuck, is all the Sens need to win these middling games on most nights.


Cory Clouston's thoughts on the game.

Alfredsson's post-game comments.

Kovalev's post-game comments.

(Courtesy whatever wonderful human being updates the Senators Twitter account.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ian Mendes is going to kill me!

...unless I guess this one right. After a terribly, terribly sad attempt at guessing the outcome of the Sens last game, I'm playing it a little safer for tonight's game. A solid win for the Sens, and a couple goals for AK27.

Senators 4 - Canadiens 2

Whoa. Okay, I get it: Don't underestimate the Senators' scoring ability this year. Against a bad team like Tampa Bay, they can tear it up. I've always thought the Canadiens were overrated, but this year, the team is acting overrated too. I think the Sens will expose Carey Price as a mediocre goalie, and collect a couple goals on the power-play. Alex Kovalev will score at least one, just to give Montreal fans something to cheer about.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I think Bryan Murray saw this, then signed him

I don't care if it's not chronologically correct! Alex Kovalev has skills.

I'm also about to make my pick for Saturday night's game against the Habs. Any suggestions? Hints? Guesses?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sens make me look like an ass, beat Bolts

During tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, TSN took a sick pleasure in pointing out to Ottawa Senators fans that while our new crop of forwards were struggling to score, Dany Heatley was tearing up the Western Conference. (Where's the love Duthie? You're an Ottawa boy!)

Dave Hodge's mailbag question was "Should the Senators have handled the Dany Heatley situation differently?"

Going into the game, all signs pointed to the Sens being a sinking ship, in need of a shake-up. Well, I guess it's time to find a new angle. The Sens won the game 7-1, and made me look like a total ass for all the internet to behold.

Milan Michalek scored a trio of pretty goals, thanks in no small part to a few long-time Senators. Jason Spezza maintained (yes, I've been praising him despite his lack of points for some time now) his strong play, and set up Milan a few times, Daniel Alfredsson collected three assists (all in a day's work for Alfie), and Chris Kelly's hard work in the PK not only kept up the Sens' excellent penalty-killing stats, but set up two short-handed goals.

So what's the score now TSN?

Dany Heatley 5G, 5A (No points in two games, btw)

Milan Michalek 4G 0A
Jonathan Cheechoo 0G 2A

Not looking so bad now (would be looking even better if Cheechoo were anything more than a salary dump. Ouch... too soon?). Next time, I'm picking the game winner using some sort of hockey tarot cards.

Karlsson? Oh yeah, that guy...

After a win tonight, and a game on Saturday night against the Habs, you won't find bored hockey writers speculating about the future of Erik Karlsson. I think Bryan Murray will do what he thinks is best, and with modern free agency rules, he's probably going to the minors (or back to Sweden) no matter how well/poorly he plays. Probably.

I'm smarter than Ian Mendes

...that's what I am hoping to prove this evening. In the Ottawa Citizen prediction panel for this evening's game, Mendes picked the Sens to win tonight's game 2-1. I, on the other hand, am picking the Sens to lose tonight's game.

Here's my reasoning.

Senators 2, Lightning 3

Unlike the basement-dwelling Islanders, who the Sens beat last week, the Lightning are much improved when compared to last season. Though they had a few days to lick their wounds after the loss to Pittsburgh, I expect the Sens will still be tired. The Senators still haven't found their scoring touch, but Tampa's big guns are on fire lately, it adds up to another hard-fought loss for Ottawa.

I guess we'll see the outcome during tonight's game. But you can bet that if the Sens lose, and I win, Mendes will never hear the end of it. (His email is pretty easy to guess.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leclaire silences doubters, converts cynics

Can you hear that?

That's the sound of nobody complaining about the Ottawa Senators' goaltending. While the Leafs are on their third goalie in as many games, Pascal Leclaire has done an excellent job of silencing doubters in the Nation's Capital.

Even with a couple losses under his belt, fingers are far from the panic button. And that's saying something, considering the Senator's history with goalies over the past couple of years.

The Sens blew their game on Monday against the Penguins with some bad giveaways and an offensive drought in the third period, but Leclaire looked stellar, even from section 324, row K (I was the guy drinking beer through a straw). I counted at least three jaw-dropping glove saves in that game, and at least one break-away save that looked like a sure-fire goal. For a while, it looked like the game would turn into a goaltenders' duel between Leclaire and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Of course, the game did not turn out that way. Some defensive lapses from the Sens allowed the Penguins to attack the the crease, and a couple weird bounces sealed the deal in Pittsburgh's favour.

Even the stats support Leclaire's solid play. A save percentage of .903 and a GAA of 2.76. With the Sens averaging only 2.4 goals per game, it's remarkable that he's got those two wins under his belt already.

But his play goes beyond the stats. In Monday's game against Pittsburgh, there was only one goal that could be called a fault on Chuck's part, and about seven shots that should have gone in, but didn't thanks to some awesome goaltending.

He's won me over already.

Fun stats update!

...and here's an update of the table I made before the Thrashers game, and Michalek was looking for his first goal. He got it... but thinks are still pretty sad on this board. Other than the fact that our rookie 19 year-old, and 28 year-old are both getting about 18 minutes a game--that's a good thing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sens hungry for bird

While you're gobbling down the turkey this evening, the Senators hope to be tearing apart a bird of their own: the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Sens are feeling pretty good about themselves these days after a few consistent performances against lesser teams. The Atlanta Thrashers were thoroughly beaten thanks to Alex Kovalev's first goal of the season (you're welcome, btw), and Brian Elliot (It feels good to have a real #1 and #2 goalie - and neither of them will be Martin Gerber at any point this season!).

Jason Spezza is on a bit of a slump - only one assist in four games so far this season, but he's been picking up other areas of his game. While we're rooting for Milan Michalek to get his first goal of the season, let's say a little prayer for Spez to pick up that area of his game.

has done a good job of shutting down Sidney Crosby in the past, but they really need to focus on Evgeni Malkin - the real goal-scorer on the Penguins. Their consistent play of late--and some wicked hits from Volchenkov--have certainly raised expectations for the duo. They were once known as one of top-notch defensive pairings in the NHL, and they need to keep up the pace they have set in these first four games.

In game 1, the Rangers showed that the Senators may have trouble with top-tier Eastern-Conference teams this year. After some offensive tweaks, they should have a better chance against the Penguins. But one thing is for sure: This will be a test.

PS: We would still trade you for a bag of pucks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kovalev needs support: Cookie Monster

I've been taking every opportunity to be critical of Alex Kovalev recently. Sure, we're only three games in, but I've barely noticed the guy on the ice. I had a sudden realization while discussing the Ottawa Senators with a co-worker recently: AK27 isn't getting much support.

In the Sens most recent game, Kovalev was on a line with Mike Fisher and Nick Foligno... one of these things is not like the other things. Give the flashy winger some flashy linemates! At least somebody with a little Nordic or European blood in them!

Luckily, I think Cory Clouston has watched Sesame Street in the past 20 years, and has decided to make some changes to the top two lines for tonight's game against the Atlanta Thrashers. You know--the lines that are supposed to be scoring the goals.

So Kovalev will have some support from Daniel Alfredsson tonight, and Foligno will play with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. Hopefully, with another goal-scorer on his line, Kovalev can put some of those fancy moves to good use, rather than just coming up with some of the NHL's most interesting ways to lose the puck.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Carkner most impressive newbie

Looks like the young, hungry guys are the ones really stepping up their game so far. The big-money new guns, like Michalek and Kovalev, are the absent ones so far. Of course, we're only three games in, and one good game from any of them could turn this table on its head.

Despite my initial criticism, I must admit Matt Carkner has been a shining light for the Senators of late. He's a big body that can hit, fight, play defence and generate some offence as well. Of the newbies, he's been the most impressive.

I also want to praise Jason Spezza too, though he's not new. He's been creating offence, limiting his turnovers (I can't real cursing him during a game lately), and even killing penalties. He's only got one point in these first three games, but if he keeps up his play, and can figure out a way to exploit his new triggerman, Michalek, the points should start flooding in.

...and regarding the prediction I submitted to the Hockey Capital blog before tonight's 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders...

Senators 4, Isles 2

The Senators' last win should give them some confidence. A couple of new additions to the Sens' roster, namely Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo, are yet to have a big game. The Islanders, despite the addition of John Tavares and a couple new goalies, are the same team that won 26 games last season. I expect AK27 to finally show off his talent, and the Senators will prevail.

Record: 0-1

I was close, and right regarding who would win, but for the wrong reasons. Bah!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Non-believers, like me, be damned

All the credit for the Ottawa Senators' 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs tonight should go to two people: Pascal "Chuck" Leclaire and Cory Clouston. I didn't think the Sens were going to pull it off tonight. I thought the Leafs goons would get to gooning and that-goalie-that-really-looks-like-Martin-Gerber-when-he-was-a-Leaf would seem like a God-sent for Leafers in his NHL debut. I am happy to admit that I was wrong.

If that puck that made it past Leclaire had gone in, instead of ringing off both posts, we'd all be singing a different tune about Chuck, but let's celebrate the solid goaltending we did get. Leclaire was the epitome of clutch tonight. Especially in the final, say, 5 or 6 seconds of the game.

Milan Michalek appears to be gaining confidence with his linemates Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. (Gimme a minute to hetero man-swoon for Alfie a moment here.... okay, enough).

I see too much to brag about from the other lines. In fact, in the middle of the third period, I was wondering if Alex Kovalev had been benched. Other than some fancy stick-handling from him on the penalty-kill, we haven't seen anything to warrant that $10-million two-year contract.

Finally! We see a resurgence from Philchenkov. Especially from the 'chenkov portion of that duo. Anton Volchenkov gets back to what he's known for: being physical and blocking shots like pieces of his body like they're replacable (though this blog did speculate some time ago that he's a Soviet android...). Philchenkov doesn't have to do anything except prevent the other team from scoring, and make them hurt whenever they enter the Sens zone. Hopefully, they're finding this out.

...which brings me to Clouston. He picked Alfredsson to take that penalty shot despite the captain's less-than-stellar shoot-out record, and didn't even mention Brian Elliot since Saturday's game. That's what we call very un-Leaf-like coaching. Nice work.

What is the REAL Sens Army?

I was somewhat offended and almost shocked when I began to see stickers and posters around downtown, near Scotiabank Place, and on the bus for an organization that called itself the the 'Real Sens Army' or 'RSA'. Their distinctive(ly evil-looking) centurion helmet said alot about the organization: we're Sens fans, and we're more badass than you.

I went to their Facebook group to see what was up with these guys. I got the email of Leonidas of Ottawa (he keeps up the pseudonym because he can't be responsible for where every one of those stickers lands up), and he happily answered all my questions.

Describe your group and its goal.

The RSA was started a couple years ago by a small group of diehard Sens fans who wanted more out of their team’s fans. We were tired of the lack of enthusiasm we met when going to Sens games. People in Ottawa like to pretend that there’s nothing wrong with our fans and that they’re “Loud & Proud”. The truth is, they’re not. There are only a few people who are willing to paint their faces, waive a flag, stand up and yell and do what it takes to be louder than the opposing teams fans (which we have a lot of here in Ottawa). And that’s where the RSA comes in.

We want to make Scotiabank Place an unwelcoming place for opposing teams and their fans. There’s absolutely no reason why Alfie should be booed in our own arena. There’s no reason why we should hear an eruption of cheering when the opposing team scores. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen in Toronto or Montreal. The RSA wants to change the culture of “Sens Army”. We want to unite the diehard fans and take our building back from Leafs, Habs and our own fair-weather fans. We want to be the loudest, scariest, diehard fans in the league and based on the people I’ve met through the RSA, we definitely have the potential to do so.

It seems like the group was a product of frustration with other Sens fans. Is that true? What makes the "real" Sens Army different from the "normal" Sens Army?

We are frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm the average Sens fan has, but we don’t blame them. They’ve never known any better. Our team is still very young in comparison to Toronto and Montreal’s, so our fan culture isn’t as evolved. Our fans still don’t know that complete silence, interrupted by a few GO SENS GO chants simply isn’t enough. There’s so much more to being a fan than simply showing up for the game. Fans in Montreal and Toronto understand this concept, a concept we’re trying to bring to “Sens Army”. The passion they have those 2 cities is what you’d call being a real fan, hence the name Real Sens Army.

Is your group meant to be all-inclusive? Or is it just for die-hard fans?

Our group has certain criteria, but is not exclusive. To be an RSA member, you have to be 100% committed to our team and our city. You have to have pride in your team, whether they’re first in the conference or dead last. Keep wearing that Sens jersey whether it’s round 3 of the playoffs or the middle of January. As the team says, be Forever RED. That’s what it is to be part of the RSA.

Your facebook description seems to focus on 100-level people quite a bit. What have you got against them?

The reason we make mention of them is quite simple: they’re boring. Having spent many games seated in the 100 level, I know this first hand. Whenever a game is on TV, the fans shown are the ones in 100 level seats. It might sound a little stupid, but I’ve never seen a Sens fan on TV going crazy when Alfie scores a big goal. All I ever see are people barely clapping. Sadly, the only fans you do see with a bit of excitement on TV are the infants! When you watch a Leafs game, people are banging on the boards, with their beer flying out of their cup, waving flags, proudly showing off their jerseys, in a sea of blue... You’d think they won the Stanley Cup after every goal. We simply do not have this 100 level energy in Ottawa. I can’t imagine what people in other hockey markets in Canada think when they see our fans. Frankly it’s embarrassing for us diehard fans and hopefully, at some point, the 100 level will be as fun and electric as some 300 level sections are already.

What else have you got to say?

To those who might not like the idea of a group like the RSA, just listen to the points were trying to make. We’re not trying to tell people how to be a fan or why they aren’t real fans. We simply believe we can change Sens culture, make it stronger and make Scotiabank Place a better environment for our own fans. If we all do our part, we’ll be the envy of every other fan base in Canada in no time! GO SENS GO!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pascal Leclaire can kill two stones with one bird

Let's not get too down on ourselves, Ottawa Senators fans.

Though the New York Rangers ran away with a 5-2 victory on Saturday night to kick off the Sens season, I'm not ready to trade everybody for Craig Conroy just yet.

After period 1, Pascal Leclaire was looking heroic. During the simultaneous (and absolutely ridiculous) live blog of this game, commentors were flipping out. His play warranted comparisons to not just the greatest goalies of all time, but the greatest person of all time: Chuck Norris.

At 7:45 p.m., BT made a comment that may stick with Leclaire all season.

"LECLAIRE = chuck norris"

...and from there, it got a little crazy.

"If you google pascal leclaire, your computer gets deflected safely to a corner to be cleared away."


"Pascal Leclaire can shoot a puck so hard even he cannot save it. AND THEN HE SAVES IT ANYWAY!"

"Leclaire does not sleep. He waits."

"Pascal Leclaire can kill two stones with one bird."

"New Sens chant? SNOO-PY! SNOO-PY! SNOO-PY!"

"There is no 'ctrl' button on PL's computer. PL is always in control." I would say that the initial reviews are good. You can see all the live blog craziness in the post from Saturday. Although I wouldn't recommend it. Things got weird.

But it was sort of downhill after Leclaire's performance. The Senators defence looked weak. Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov (Philchenkov? Yeah, that would be their celebrity couple name) did nothing to restore our confidence in them after a poor 2008-09 season, and the rest of the so-called 'puck-moving' defencemen looked out-classed by quicker Rangers forwards.

Erik Karlsson? The kid has poise and moves on the powerplay, but his flaws were on full display as well. Maybe a few more games in the NHL will progress his defensive game, but I'm not sure he'll stick around that long.

And as for that new offensive depth... disturbingly absent. Jonanthan Cheechoo didn't make a ripple in the game and was largely unnoticable, and Alex Kovalev didn't bring too much of that offensive magic we've heard so much about.

Milan Michalek was the sole impressive newcomer (other than Chuck Leclaire), he showcased the speed and a some of the offensive talent that made him the centrepiece of the Heatley trade. Here's hoping it results in a goal against the Leafs.

And nothing would lift the spirits of the Sens Army like continuing the Leaf's regular-season misery.

OMG what a blog:

I'm very happy to announce that the game's live blog was a complete success. More than 275 people watched the madness, over 3+ hours. There were more than 1300 comments from the Ottawa Senators online community, and we demonstrated that coveritlive was not, as it clearly states on its website, intended for that many contributors. Fuck it. We almost killed the internet, and the lag was pretty bad at times, but it was wicked.

I'm looking forward to doing it again sometime. Maybe for the next Saturday night game. I'll let you know (email and blog-wise).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

LIVE BLOG starts at 6

Add #sensblog to your tweets to contribute to the conversation

Reasons to be excited about tonight's game

The season opener--the single greatest opportunity for a writer to condone or condemn a team, and then say they were right all along (I intend to do both somehow).

But there are five reasons to be excited for tonights game:

1) Pascal Leclaire - Finally, a real goaltender in Ottawa. He's here to destroy the ghosts of Martin Gerber and Ray Emery (uhhh... yeah, about that...). He wears #33. He's quiet and quirky. He speaks French... 'nuff said.

2) The rookie - Erik Karlsson is the great blond hope. When was the last time a rookie defender made the Senators opening night squad? Wade Redden? That was 13 years ago! Even if he doesn't stick with the big club this season, Karlsson has already shown us he's got the talent to play in the NHL one day.

3) The offence - The Ottawa Senators finally did something proactive for the offensive part of their game when they signed Alex Kovalev in the off-season. They sent Dany Heatley to San Jose for two goal-scorers. Add that to Alfredsson and Spezza, and baby you got a stew goin'! A goal-scoring stew.

4) They haven't lost a game yet (unlike the Leafs!) - So just kick back and enjoy the game. It's a whole new team.

5) You told me the Senators are better off without Heatley - You wouldn't lie to me, would you?

Great way to start opening night by listening to Sens Underground. Still the original (I think), and the best Ottawa Senators podcast out there. Actually, they're one of the reasons why I started this blog.

These guys put an incredible amount of time and effort into their product, and the results are better than what you'll hear during the average hour of AM radio.

They're celebrating the debut of their fifth season with, you guessed it, the first podcast of the 2009-10 season. Click and listen.

I had the opportunity to sip a couple beers with these guys during the tumultuous Ray Emery/John Paddock days, and I hope they're a lot happier now. I think there's a lot to be happy about after a tough off season.

Live blog notes for Twitterers:

In case you missed the big red banner or my incessant nagging over the past week, TONIGHT STARTING AT 6pm this blog is co-hosting the largest online gathering of Sens fans ever (I hope). This shit just went multi-platform after I noticed that Twitter can be incorporated in a lot of ways .

1) Just add #sensblog to your tweets, and they'll be automatically added to the conversation! Sweet!

2) If you're too lazy to do #1, just leave your twitter @name in the comments of this post, and I'll add you to an exclusive list (because I think there's a limit of 12) whose every comment will be posted onto the liveblog.

See you tonight.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Polar bear rocket ship! [update!]

If this doesn't get you pumped up for the game on Saturday night, nothing will.

From what I understand of the video, the Alaskan flag turns into a constellation, which then explodes, implodes a planet, comes to life as a bear, finds a hockey stick, has a rocket for legs, flies into an electrical storm made of magic, does a slapshot of the hubble telescope! Destroys the moon! Nukes Anchorage! Moves onto Fairbanks and INVADES THEIR HOCKEY ARENA!

Fuck. What a video.

Kudos to the National Post's The Ampersand blog.
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