While sifting through the carnage that was last night's game, I mentioned to a friend of mine that I couldn't understand how a team could scratch and claw its way through three rounds of playoff hockey, reach the final covered in blood, sweat and tears...and not show up. What the hell happened, I asked.
"Easy", he said. "Tendencies."
"Tendencies. Carlyle has Ottawa's tendencies down cold. And he's coaching his team on them."
Now here I was, swearing a blue streak about how the Senators stopped skating (again), how stupid Alfie was with his little tantrum, how (good Lord HOW), with Ottawa needing the biggest goal in franchise history and Emery on the bench, how in the name of all that is holy could Redden let himself get beat to a loose puck with 30 seconds left, in his own zone. And he gives me...coaching.
Ordinarily I'd greet this with mixture of laughter and scorn, but this particular friend knows coaching. He's coached minor football, kids ranging from 4 to 14, for 10 years. He's the Vince Lombardi of the Teletubby set. Pro coaches? Bah! Show me a pro coach who's ever had to deal with his starting wide receiver suddenly running off the field because he "has to potty". Other than Parcells that is ("awww jeez Terrell. Again?"). I joined him once as a volunteer for the first day of team tryouts. I made one bad joke to the players and lost them forever. They looked at him, and saw "Coach". Me? "Dork with a Canadian Tire whistle". They were 8 and they could smell fear. I never went back. He never left. All that to say, when he makes a point about coaching, it usually makes sense to listen.
So is Murray being outcoached? I have no idea. But I do no that if Carlyle is coaching his defence on Ottawa's tendencies (explained to me thusly: Spezza does "A", and if that's not there, "B", and if that's not there "C", waive weakly at the puck while pretending to skate and bitching about the ice. Um...okay. May have made "C" up), and Murray hasn't made adjustments, then yes. But he has adjusted, and still nothing happens. Which leaves...well...that leaves the players. Which makes me swear a blue streak all over again.
Look, we all think they'll win tomorrow. And Saturday. And Monday. We have to. We're fans. And as a fans, the only things we have to replace our total lack of control over the outcome are things like hope and superstition. So tomorrow night, we'll wear the lucky socks, and we'll don the only Sens t-shirt we have left yet to witness a playoff loss. We'll eat the same meal we've eaten before every game, and we'll spin around three times before settling into our Lay-Z-Boys.
But that's it, that's all we got, guys. The rest is up to you, the players. We're out of chants, incantations and incense. We're out of prayers, exhortations, tantrums, and sacrificial rubber chickens. In short, we got nothin' left. So...uh...waddya say there guys? Little help? For old time's sake?