Sunday, October 28, 2007

The First 10,000 Fans Get A Free Kevlar Vest!

Speaking of last night's invisible Sens game (4-1 Ottawa, another win, 9-1, ho-hum) Five For Smiting would like to congratulate the New Jersey Devils on opening their new arena. By all accounts, it's rather impressive, if not quite finished.
When the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators arrived for the first-ever skates at the $375-million Prudential Centre yesterday morning, they had to dodge arena workers yielding power tools and driving forklifts, installing the final sections of seats and glass.

In the bowels of the arena, stray electrical wires were left danging from the ceiling, rolls of new carpeting remained untouched and painters were desperately trying to cover up plaster with a fresh coat of paint.

Completely understandable New Jersey. Even if you did have almost two years to build the thing, we know how those interminable mob squabbles over window treatments and fabric patterns can throw a schedule completely out of whack. I mean, finding a spot to bury the bodies dug up to pour the foundation alone must have taken months.

And the choice of location was truly inspired. Yep, I know if I had $375 million burning a hole in my wallet, Newark would be the first place I'd look to spend it. And judging by last night's attendance numbers which quite a sell out...your fans are equally ecstatic (as an aside, a small suggestion , if I may. If you want to draw more people, I'd forget about free calendars and funny hat giveaways. Put your money into police escorts to the concession stands. Just sayin'...)

So, again, congrats Devils! You've finally shaken the swamp gas from your boots and have an actual city to call your own. Devils' fans are giddy with the prospect that future Cup parades will take place in Newark, on real streets, instead of a giant parking lot. Of course, it will go screaming past them at about 80mph, running red lights with the windows up and the doors locked, but hey! It's a start.

New Home Is Heaven For Devils [Ottawa Citizen]

Note To CBC: It's Only A River

When perusing the desolate moonscape that is this stretch of the Senators schedule, I knew last night's game wouldn't be televised. How? Well, in return for $500 million, some sexual favours and a tootsie pop to be named later, Commisar Bettman granted the CBC exclusive Canadian broadcast rights for any hockey game happening anywhere we Canuckistanians may want to see. You want to see you're local junior team on closed circuit? Forget it. You taped your ten year old's Atom House League game that morning and now want to show it to Grandpa, oblivious to the fact that Grandpa would rather remove his own pacemaker with a hot poker than see little Timmy fall down for another two hours? If it's on a Saturday, a crack team of CBC lawyers will bust down your door, serve you with a restraining order, confiscate the tape and steal the pacemaker before you can say "Bob Cole should be isolated and mined for nutrients".

I also knew that Mother Corp almost never, ever, goes through the trouble and expense of broadcasting games from the Great U.S.ofA. during the regular season. Unless it's a big deal, like Gretzky's last game, or the first game of a new expansion team, too many pot convictions on their technical crew makes getting through customs too big a pain in the ass. So I had no expectations that I would see the Sens/Devils game on television, regardless of the fact that New Jersey was opening their new building.

Well, imagine my surprise when I flipped to my trusty Bell ExpressVu channel guide at seven o'clock and saw CH206 CBC OTT: Toronto vs. New York Rangers. Oh joy. Thanks Nancy! Really. So you sent a full crew to cover a game between one team going absolutely nowhere in our lifetime and another that has only won once all season while ignoring the best team in the East playing a perennial power, in a brand new building. Of course, I can understand. After all, the Sens/Devils game was happening all of 7 miles away from Manhattan. Hey, here's an idea? How about you drop the Laughs and pick up the Sens instead? Maybe send Cuthbert down to do the...oh, wait.

Toronto bias at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation?? Heavens! Perish the thought!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Raised Glass To A Group Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

This has been a rather hectic time at Casa Cojones (hence no Florida/Ottawa Creamy Middle...well, that and it was a pretty dull game), however, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge our friends at Four Habs Fans for honouring our little wager. Hopefully, loyal readers, you both have been as amused as I have.

And as Every Hab Fan notes in the comments (and HF 29 so succinctly put it here), we will always be united by the fact that we both think the Leafs SUCK! So about the rematch...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Game 8: Sens 4, Habs 3 -- The Highs, The Lows, The Creamy Middle

A watershed moment in the history of our little chucklehut has come to a close, and we were victorious! Let the record show that the foundation of the inevitable takeover of cyberspace by our new Legions began on Thurday, October 18th 2007, launched off the wooden stick of one Jason Spezza! We have, in our hands, the makings of an Empire that will last for an entire week! Okay, maybe three days. A thousand years from now, future archaeologists while digging through the digital detritus of our lost civilization will come across this wager, and gaping with awe and wonder, exclaim: "Wow. These guys really should have gotten a life!"

The Highs:
  • Martin Gerber. Grudgingly. My feelings on Swiss Pastry (flaky...get it? Thank you! I'll be here until Tuesday. Please tip your waitress) are well known. I don't trust him, never have trusted him and now that Rayzor's Hummer is back in the player's lot, I'm waiting for Captain Confidence to implode. But, for this game, he was good, with flashes of brilliance.

  • Carey Price. This just in: This kid is good. I don't, as a rule, offer kudos to the opposition (I'm small and petty that way), but other than Redden's opening softie, this game could have been a blow out after the first period. On the road, facing the League's best offence would rattle any rookie. But Mr. Price acquitted himself very well. Of course, the Montreal media will eventually drive him to drink and destroy his career, but for now, I'll be magnanimous in victory.

  • The crowd. Was it just me, or did the cheers for Montreal sound muted this time? Maybe, just maybe, we're starting to win over some converts from La Belle Province. Or, they just had a harder time getting tickets. Either way, there were definitely fewer Hab fans in attendance than games past. Now, if only we can figure out a way to keep Leaf fans out...
The Lows:
  • With apologies to anyone who wasn't watching the local A-Channel Ottawa feed (you lucky, lucky bastards). Please, please PLEASE remove Gord Wilson from the play-by-play booth. He's such a homer, even we, as Sens fans, should cringe. Nothing is ever a Senator's fault. Referees are excoriated for missing calls only he can see. And worst of all, he won't SHUT THE FUCK UP DURING THE PLAY!! As I mentioned in the FHF game thread, Dean Brown is simply embarrassing. Gord Wilson makes me want to gouge my eardrums out with a spork.

  • The NHL schedule makers. We played seven games in eleven days to open the season. Now, after tonight's game against the Panthers, we won't see a game until NEXT Saturday. Now I realize that there are many factors that come into play when putting together the season sched, but a week?? Come on. While this makes my Beloved very happy, I personally will hold all of you responsible for every re-run Sex In The City or episode of Men In Trees I will be compelled to watch for the sake of marital harmony over the next seven days.
The Creamy Middle: A lot to like in this one. Foligno's first goal (and Leap for Dad). Heater's breakaway goal to extend his streak. The overall team game was pretty solid too. Oh, and there is, of course, my little wager. Keep your eyes on the FHF front page. Ye be warned, boys: as soon as my Photoshop minions are done concocting a lewd picture involving the Rocket and a goat, you'll be hearing from me. In the meantime, keep your eyes on the FHF front page anyway. Those crazy law talking guys are pretty good.

Up Next: Tonight, against the Florida Panthers, at the Bank. Regional HNIC coverage on this one, so mercifully, Wilson will be put back into his box for another couple of weeks. If the Pussy Cats keep playing the way they have been since the beginning of the year, look for Jacques Martin to raise an eyebrow in uncontrollable rage.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tonight, On A Very Special Episode

Well, here we are kids. Buckle up. We've seen my wager, and we've seen their response. We've seen my lovingly crafted and, dare I say, brilliant attacks on their most hallowed institutions and management. We've seen their passive-aggressiveness and penchant for pantsless muppets. It's GO TIME!!

Oh, and there's a hockey game on I hear. Habs-Sens, Gerber Baby a toddler. Hang out at the game thread with me, and teach them to FEAR THE BEIGE!

Update: Senators 4, Habs 3. We win. I win. What to do, what to do...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Tale Of One City Part Deux -- Prodigal Sons Need Not Apply

As you may or may not have heard, Four Habs Fans has accepted my wager on the October 18th game between Ottawa and Montreal. In the first of the two installments that made up my little adventure, we discovered that not all members of the Canadiens family are very happy with the direction the team has taken these last few years, as well as possibly unlocking the secret behind the once proud franchise's decent into hitherto unknown and truly historic levels of suckitude since their last Cup win. Today, we examine the deep dark secret hidden in plain sight behind a multiplex. Many Labatt 50 vendors died to bring us this information. Read on...

I looked around the alley, stealing myself against what, I had no idea. I just knew (mostly from the smell...a mix of garbage and wet hockey bag) that it would be unpleasant. But, the Ghosts had sent me here for a reason, so taking a deep breath, I knocked on the tin wall of the shanty.

"Halloo?" came a muffled voice from inside. "Ronald? Is that you? At last?" A girlish giggle followed that, at once endearing and blood curdling. Goosebumps raced up my arms. "Coming! Commmmiiiiiing! Just need to tidy up a bit! Hee-Hee!" I could hear the sound of furniture being moved, the clank of metal, the crash of broken glass ("Callice!") and then the door flew open in a hail of flies and old pizza boxes. The stench was enough to bring tears to my eyes. "I'm ready Ronald! I'm okay now. 'Estie oui! I can pl...wait. You're not Ronald. Um...Are you?" The derelict looked at me with a mixture of hope and suspicion. His matted hair, shot through with gray stood up a crazy angles, which was a nice distraction from the sunken bloodshot eyes and the pepperoni slice held captive in his scraggled nicotine stained beard. His clothes (Habs jersey over tattered jeans) were several stages past filthy and reeked of La Maudite.

" No I'm not. Sorry. George sent--"

"The ghosts?? You've seen the ghosts??"

"Um...yes. You see, they--"

"AHA! See Mark??" he shouted over his shoulder. "I'm not fucking crazy! You owe me your rookie card!" He looked back at me. "All of these years, the little bastard has called me crazy. I am NOT crazy! HAH!" Then to prove his point, he pulled down his pants and with jeans around his ankles and junk flapping in the breeze, he did the moonwalk in front of the door. The flies seemed to approve.

"Look, I, um, ah.." I stammered, trying desperately not to look at anything that would scar my memory forever, "I...I gotta go. Thanks for--"

"No, no. Come in, come in. Any friend of George is a friend of ours. Really. I'm Alain. Alain Héroux. You might remember me." He cleared his throat and continued in an uncanny impression of John Ziegler, "With their first pick in the 1982 draft the Montreal Canadiens select Alain Héroux! Rahhhhhhhhh!!! And the crowd goes wild!" A small smile crossed his lips as he stared at a spot over my left shoulder. Eventually, he snapped back to me. "Eh? Alain Héroux? Remember? Yeah. That was fun. Anyway, come in! I'm so rude. Hee-Hee!" Against my better judgment, I followed him through the door. Unlike my host, I didn't skip while I did it.

The place was packed. Not including myself and my new friend, there were six other people crammed into a space that would make a Chinese prisoner claustrophobic. "Introductions! Hee-Hee!" Alain pointed to a bundle of rags curled up in a fetal position on the floor. "Let's see. Friend of George meet Mark Pederson, first rounder, 1986, and who now owes me big!" The bundle grunted his greeting. "And over there is Eric Charron, first round, '88. Some people may have taken Recchi, Amonte or Molginy first that year, but...Qu'est c'que tu va faire, ein? Here we have Lindsay Vallis from 1989. I wouldn't say too much to him." His voice dropped to a whisper. "The next Habs pick that year was Brisebois, and he's still playing. It's a bit of a sore point."

"Anyway" Alain continued, "that's Brent Bilodeau, who like me, never played an NHL game. Then we have David Wilkie. Did you know that the team took a Japanese high schooler that year? Yep. 11th round. And finally, Monsieur Matt Higgins, first round of '96. Say high Matt!" Matt merely grunted and took another swig from his bottle of cooking sherry. "Ah, don't pay no mind to Matt. He's still a little pissed too. Guys drafted after him are still playing. You may have heard of them? Daniel Briere? Zdeno Chara? Tomas Kaberle? I think he's in Toronto."

"Wait, wait", I said. "You guys are all first rounders?"

"Yep", Alain replied.

"And you're all living here?"

"Well yeah. Pretty sweet eh? Ronald said he'd come back you see. He said we'd get another chance. So, we wait. We're happy to wait. HEE-HEE!! Of course, three of us are missing. Dougie Wickenheiser passed to the great practice rink in the sky, may God rest his soul. And Danny Geofrion's daddy came to take him home after a couple of years. I guess Boom Boom didn't think his little boy could hack it. And Andrew Cassels Mark! Where'd Andy go?" "Food!" came the reply. "Oh yeah, Andrew went out to the pier. YUM! Fish head soup tonight!"

"Look. It was really nice to meet you all", I said, slowly backing toward the door. "Really. I do. But I have to go now. You see, I'm getting ready for this game on Thursday...."

"You from Ottawa, eh? ", David Wilkie asked me.

"Um. Yes."

"Bastards beat us in their first game ever you know. Ruined my whole fucking year."

"Yeah. Er, sorry about that. Anyway, I really have to go. Um...good luck!" And with that I bolted outside. I think I saw Alain lunge for me, but he still had his pants around his feet. Never could skate, I thought as I burst into the back parking lot. I don't think downtown Montreal air had ever smelled so sweet. As I made my way back toward Atwater, a long white limo pulled up, a dapper older gentleman emerging from the back seat, a man I immediately recognized.

"Mr. Corey?" I signaled the gentleman. "I think you have an appointment. Hope you brought some fish heads." And with that, I made my way back down Ste Catherine, a huge smile on my face. Yep, it was good to be a Sens fan. Maybe I'd hit a strip club or two before heading home.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Tale Of One City -- It Was The Blurst Of Times

As you may or may not have heard, Four Habs Fans has accepted my wager on the October 18th game between Ottawa and Montreal. In order to avoid disorienting my two loyal readers upon my inevitable take over of the FHF front page, I'd like to conduct a tour of a famous Montreal landmark foolishly abandoned by a franchise quick to wrap itself in the musty, moldy trappings of tradition when it suits them. When it doesn't, those trappings lay sadly neglected. Like this landmark. And its denizens. Read on...

As I left the gleaming, yet soulless monument to corporate prostitution known as the Molson Bell Centre and headed north on Drummond Street I came to Ste-Catherine Street, home to the greatest nightlife, the best restaurants and largest concentration of strip clubs per square block, of any city in Canada. I turned left, and started walking. Ignoring the hookers, their pimps, the tantalizing smell of smoked meat, the hookers, and the cops propositioning the hookers, I eventually reach my destination. The corner of Ste-Catherine and Atwater. On the north-east corner of that intersection stood an abortion of metal scafolding and tin siding. Squinting, I could almost imagine the once iconic escalators, lit up to look like crossed hockey sticks. But they were gone now. All that remained of the greatest hockey rink in the world was the name...Forum. And even that had been sold off to the highest bidder, so it now read "Forum Pepsi". As I entered, I was almost knocked over by the smell of popcorn, the clanging of pinball machines and a hyper active seven year old hopped up on cotton candy. I ignored them all. Slipping a twenty to the fat rent-a-cop by the door, I headed to the basement. I had an appointment to keep.

"They made a mistake, you know", the voice said to me as I entered the boiler room. "They took the goddamned hot dog machines, but they left US. A big fucking mistake. And they'll pay for it."

The speaker appeared to me in a grey mist, a moth-eaten Habs jersey convering a skeletal frame, which was apt because he was...well...mostly skeleton. Here was the Chicoutimi Cucumber himself. George Vezina stood before me, and he was pissed.

"Yep. Dumped us like a syphilitic whore." he continued. "Well who the hell do they think won them all of those pretty trophies, eh? Dryden?? Nothing but a high-falootin' little priss with a superiority complex. Had to use a hundred words to make a point normal people could get across in ten. Dryden. BAH! Lafleur?? Sure, he could skate pretty for a communist. Get a haircut girlie man! Roy?? Not fucking likely. They never would have won the Cup in '93 without us. WE were the ones bending the goalposts to keep the pucks out. Do you think ten, TEN! overtime wins in the playoffs just happen? Of course not. So what thanks do we get? They move to a piece of crap rink full of corporate boxes filled with bigshots more interested in making deals than making noise. Christ, we may as well be in Toronto! And they left us here, to watch third rate movies and rattle around in the fucking basement. Just look at what it's done to the Gumper. Look!" He pointed to a disheveled old ghost passed out in the corner, a fifth of vodka standing between his splayed legs. "Poor bastard is reduced to hanging out in bathrooms and scaring the shit out of fifth graders! Four Cups and his reward is to go "BOOGA-BOOGA" during the matinee. Sad."

"So what can I do?", I asked.

"You tell them. You tell them that they will never win shit as long as they play in that god-forsaken rink. No Cups. No Conference titles. They won't even get a sniff of a division lead until they come back here. And even then. We may not be in very cooperative mood even if they do come back."

"Sure. I can do that", I replied.

"And you know what the sad part is?" George went on. "We're not the guys in the worst shape because of Mr. Razor Blade and his merry band. Nope, there's another bunch of guys who are even worse off then us. After all, we're dead. We don't need anything. You want to see the real pain in this soap opera? Head around back, to the alley behind the Forum. You'll see." Vezina let out a sigh and started to fade away. "Go talk to them. And let me know if the Senators need some help come April. It would be nice to see a winner for a change..." And with that he was gone.

As I made my way outside, back through the lobby, past the rent-a-cop (now asleep) and toward the back alley, I couldn't help but wonder what could be worse than seeing a team's legends abandoned for the sake of turning a buck. As I turned the corner, I knew. I knew what could be worse. It was written in crayon on a sign hanging from the door of the tarpaper shack built between two dumpsters:

I knocked on the door, fearing the worst.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Game 6: Sens 3, Hurricanes 6 -- The Highs, The Lows, The Creamy Middle

There was a day, 12 years ago or so, when you would read in the paper "Game Night -- Senators vs. Whalers" and have an involuntary shudder race up your spine. Ottawa against Hartford was the NHL equivalent to Chinese water torture. Take two of the League's worst teams at the height of the clutch and grab era, throw in a dash of Trap and you were guaranteed be subjected to the worst kind of hockey (mistake filled, slow, plodding, sorry..."defensive") since the Harold Ballard's glory years in Toronto. As a fan, you felt obliged to watch these games knowing full well that you'd never get those precious hours back. But you sure as hell didn't enjoy it. Then the Whalers up and moved, changed their name and got good enough to win a Cup. Two years later, they come into our house and show this particular fan that they may well be the biggest problem our Big Ugly Trophy dreams may face this season. Bastards!

The Highs:
  • Heater scores his fifth goal in six games. Sure, it was a bit of a gift, but at this pace, we should be naming schools after him by Christmas. And if a bloated, clueless gasbag can win a Nobel Prize...just sayin'.
  • The game itself. While it's still early, this was easily the most entertaining game I've watched this year. Fast, open, end-to-end, this of course drives head coaches nuts, but if I'm Gary Bettman (and thank God I'm not), I'm getting very aroused at the possibility of these two teams meeting in the playoffs.
  • The Captain, leading by example. The only one of the good guys on the ice who looked like he had any legs, his third period blow-by through the Carolina D was an almost exact carbon copy of his breakaway in Game 5 of the Finals, where he tried to will an exhausted team to a win by putting them on his back. While both were unsuccessful, in Alfie we trust.
The Lows:
  • In Martin Gerber we do NOT trust. I mentioned after the Devils game that he was letting himself get out of position after the initial stop, an observation for which I was gently taken to task in the comments by TJ of Sens HQ. Well, Carolina's second goal came as a direct result of exactly that, local colour man Gord Miller's hysterical protestations of goalie interference notwithstanding (seriously Gord. Go away. Your homerism and ability to rehash the same fucking replay through five minutes of ensuing on-ice action is infuriating on levels I had no idea existed). hear that Elliott kid might be pretty good eh?

  • NHL schedule makers. Tonight's game against the Rangers will be the Sens' seventh game in eleven days. While I'm sure this can't be a concerted plot by the League to wear our boys out in order to ensure an all-American Final (never too early to haul out the conspiracy theories), the front loaded schedule can only mean that we can look forward to looooong stretches in February and March where we Sens fans will be forced to actually interact with our families because there are no games. Things could be worse, I guess. We could always be forced to play overseas. Wait, what??
Creamy Middle: Oddly enough, this loss could be good for the team. They had run their record to 5-0 despite not having played very well in four of those. Getting spanked by an opponent with comparable skill should probably, hopefully, keep the boys from getting too complacent. And remember kids, last year at this time we were 2-4-1 and the sky was falling. And that season didn't turn out too badly.

Up Next: The rematch against the Rangers. Again, no t.v. tonight, so I can only drink more beer than humanely possible, watch Sid The Kid sodomize the Leafs and look forward to a rather important match next Thursday involving Les Habitants, and apparently, pantsless mascots. (More, much more, on this later).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Montreal Bloggers Foolishly Stake Reputation On October 18th Habs-Sens Game. Bettman: "What The Hell Is A Blog?"

OTTAWA (SLC) -- In his first public statement since being discovered in flagrente dilicto with Kansas City business man Tim Leiweke, NHL Commissar Gary Bettman announced today that the League would observe with considerable interest wagers being placed in cyberspace between two competing fan sites.

"While it isn't something we, as a league can officially condone", Mr. Bettman said when contacted in a bathroom stall at the Minneapolis International Airport, "we'll be keeping a close eye on it to see if it's something we can leverage in our next round of negotiations with Versus, OLN or any other nascent and obscure television network who may wish to broadcast our exciting product without actually paying us for it".

The Commissar's comments came in the wake of today's announcement that two "blog" sites, Four Habs Fans (Monter Monstrial Montreal) and Five For Smiting (Ottawa) had placed a wager on the October 18th game between the expansion Montreal Canadiens, and the league leading Ottawa Senators. From today's press release:
Terms of the wager were hammered out in an intense negotiation session conducted at a local gentleman's club. It was decided, following numerous breakout sessions with agents from Champagne Consulting, that the winner of that night's game would be permitted to post unedited on the loser's website, "as gloating, irreverent, insulting a post as the writer can muster".
Rumours that one of the founding members of Four Habs Fans had already conceded defeat remain unconfirmed as of this writing. When asked for comment, Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller responded "I LIKE SOUP!"

Monday, October 8, 2007

Game 4: Sens 4, Devils 2 -- The Highs, The Lows, The Creamy Middle

The New Jersey Devils have never been accused of having a distinct personality. Try a little word association, just for fun. Ready? Go. Flyers=Pain. Sabres=Speed. Habs=Ghosts. Oilers=Lunch Pail. Okay, that was two words.

Devils? Um...Borg. Seriously, look at that picture and tell me you can't see Lou Lamoriello. Paint him gray, stick some wires into his skull, and presto. We are the Devils. You will be assimilated. Sorry Lou, not today. And yes, I have a bit of a nerd streak. Why do you ask?

The Highs:
  • Another win and we're now 4-0-0. The game's first star goes to the new HD overhead camera that caught Redden's game winner. This makes luddites like me feel very conflicted.

  • Vermette-Kelly-Neil. These guys were everywhere and easily the highest energy line on the ice, with the payoff coming with Kelly's first of the year. I will refrain from a raging case of the I-told-ya-so's for the time being. You're welcome.

  • Four games in, and we're still clicking at a 100% penalty kill, with a shorty thrown in for fun. The competition committee is looking into allowing teams to decline penalties NFL-style.
The Lows:
  • Four games in, and we're choking on 2-for-21 Power Play. Lots of pretty passes. Quite a few shots that come within eight feet of the goalie. Trouble is, the nets are six feet wide.

  • Let's see. Three frames, each of twenty minute duration, game will last...carry the two...thirty-seven minutes. Yeah. That's gotta be right, because that's about how long the team has actually played over the first four games. Rumours that a wily and elusive creature known as the "Second Period" has been sighted at Scotiabank Place remain unconfirmed.

  • We have three more games against New Jersey to sit through. Stock up on the No-Doze.
The Creamy Middle:

Despite having yet to play an entire game, we're 4-0. I realize I'm flirting with "apologist" status, but I repeat...this is October. But if you guys could find a way to actually play the second period, that would be great.

One more point of concern that bears watching is Gerber's total disregard of Newton's First Law. Gerbs, you got into trouble last year because you would come across your crease to make the first save, then let the momentum carry you halfway to the side boards while that nice juicy rebound sat in your crease. And you're doing it again.'s that wrist doing there Rayzor?

Up Next: The Sens travel to Atlanta on Wednesday night. There's no t.v. for this one, so I'll have to rely on my own imagination in order to picture the tears running down Marian Hossa's face as he gazes longingly into the Ottawa bench, imagining what might have been.

Around The Boards: Opening Weekend Goodness

If there is one thing I’ve learned (or had pointed out by kind hearted friends) since birthing the squealing infant that is Five For Smiting way back in March of aught seven, it’s that there are many, many, many folks much more talented than I out there in the hockey blogosphere. Hence, I give you Around The Boards, a weekly(ish) round up of what my betters are talking about:

Infinitely more interesting, funny and witty than the term "Lawyers" would ordinarily indicate, Four Habs Fans has become one of the must-stops on my tour of these here internets. It seems Les Glorieux suffered some sort of set back on Saturday night, and the boys at FHF are taking it about as well as one would expect. (And I'm totally swiping that picture).

Hextall454, one of the fine contributors to Melt Your Face-Off, is rather disappointed Senor Gomez decided to sign on Broadway this off-season, rather than Philly. But his mom may be downright homicidal about it.

New Canucks blog, The Humming Giraffe (worth a mention for the name alone) shares some thoughts on Opening Night. Now if we could only get them to explain those jerseys for us...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Don't forget, today is a day to be thankful, eat until you puke, drain your grandparents liquor cabinet and stumble around giving awkward hugs to your hot second-cousin. What? It isn't like that everywhere else?

Game 3: Sens 2, Rangers 0 -- The Highs, The Lows, The Creamy Middle

Coming in, this was, somewhat ludicrously touted as a possible preview to next spring's Eastern Conference Final. I say "ludicrous" since we all know that in no way will Jaromir choose to exert himself at a time of year when New York is so lovely.

The Highs:
  • Another Gerber win, this time by shut-out. We're through the looking glass here people. There are smoke and mirrors everywhere, but I for one, welcome our new puck stopping sorcerer overlord.

  • The hysterical train wreck that was the Rangers' line change that led directly to Alfie's goal. Forget the skating and passing drills Coach Renney. You might instead, want to try "How to get on and off the bench without crashing into each other" at your next practice.

  • Chris Neil welcoming Sean Avery. Every once in a while, Karma smiles, and when she does, you'd better be ready for it. I'll even forgive the crap elbowing call because it was a) well, crap and b) Sean Avery.

  • Coach's Corner and Grapes calling out Downie for his hit on McAmmond. That was about the last thing I expected from His Bombasticness. I wonder how it would have played had it been Tucker instead of Downie.
The Lows (all to do with the CBC coverage, oddly enough):
  • Speaking of which...Grapes fellating Darcy Tucker to the point of laryngitis. A long and very squeaky rant directed at Paul Maurice on the injustice of biblical proportion to be found in only playing Tucker for six minutes in the Laffs loss to Ottawa on Thursday night. Here's a hint Don: Even little rat-faced ankle biting fucksticks like Tucker get slow with age.

  • Don Whitman had a rather rough night. He said "Roseval" when referring to Lundqvist (an interesting mistake, considering only one of them is the goalie), called the score as 3-0 Ottawa at one point in the third, and mangled a Harry Neale quote, which Don attributed to Punch Imlach so badly I had to change the channel to stop the giggleshits. And did I mention that Neale was sitting right beside him?
  • Note to Nancy Lee, despotic tsarina of CBC Sports: Please put the Nickleback/Kid Rock cover of "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" back in the opening. It's the one good decision you've made in your entire tenure with Mother Corps. Otherwise, the only thing you'll be remembered for is the classy way you rid yourself of Brian Williams and Chris Cuthbert, and almost firing Ron MacLean. How'd that work out for ya?
The Creamy Middle:

Confident, hard skating, physical with a tighter defence, the Sens played a much better game than the previous two. You could argue that, if the first three games are any indication, Ottawa's developing an alarming tendency to play down to the level of their opponents, but again, it's October. I fully expect to bear witness to numerous 8-0 curbstompings of lesser teams as the season goes on.

Up Next:

The New Jersey Devils come to town for a Turkey Day matinee. In case you're wondering, the black armband Martin Brodeur is wearing is a tribute to Scott Gomez and the tragic demise of the last vestige of offence remaining in the Swamp. As an added bonus, Lou Lamoriello may well fire a coach or two between periods, just to keep things interesting.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Game 2: Sens 3 Laffs 2 -- The Highs, The Lows, The Creamy Middle

The Highs:

  • Another two points, and perhaps more important, another day closer to MLSE exiling John Ferguson Jr. to a nunnery. Preferably one involving a very hot, naked strict Mother Superior and her favourite paddle, or as she calls it "Biblical Knowledge". Wait. That was my buddy's bachelor party. Sorry. Moving on...

  • Antoine Vermette. The boy put on some serious man-flesh over the off season (visual evidence here, ladies) and it showed. Now, if only the League could devise some sort of punitive sanction in order to prevent prostrate defencemen from impeding your progress with flailing sticks to the skates, and perhaps appoint an impartial third party arbiter to judge these kinds of infractions, that would be great! Sanctions? Gary? Anybody?

  • Martin Gerber. 41 shots turned aside. Not bad for a guy a year removed from being the most expensive gate opener in League history.
    • The Lows:

      • Martin Gerber's rebounds. Maybe it was the absence of Pierre "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?" McGuire telling Martin how confident he should feel, but the poise he showed on Wednesday night was nowhere to be found. Seriously. I've thrown things (small animals and toddlers mostly) at trampolines that didn't bounce that much, or in that many different directions.

      • Where was the hate? Sure, there was the odd slap and tickle after whistles, and my man Fish indicating that he'd had just about enough of Alex Steen's shit by way of a flying suplex warmed all of my cockles, but other than that... C'mon guys. If I'm going to bother donning full body paint, my co-workers would appreciate it if you could justify their trauma with a little intestinal fortitude.

      • Greg Millen. Greg, you've obviously spent way too much time at the CBC kool-aid fountain. I expect Bob Cole to fly into apoplectic fits every time a Leaf trips over the blueline, but the extent to which you enabled his delusions was downright embarrassing. Remember, the Senators gave you your shot when they named you the colour guy on the very first local broadcasts back in '93. For penance, you will call Don Chevrier and simultaneously apologize and lick his boots.

      The Creamy Middle:

      We flat out stole one. This one could easily have been 6 or 7-3 Leafs if not for a combination of Gerber being good when he had to be, the D's ability to clean up the rebounds, and Toronto's natural ability to screw everything up. But I'm okay with that. This is, after all, October, and serving up the odd stinker is to be expected. In October. I can't stress that enough.

      Up next:

      The refugee camp for the perennially pampered and over privileged that is the New York Rangers comes to the Bank tonight. If Sean Avery leaves the building with the same number of teeth he came in with, I will be sorely disappointed. And twenty bucks says that somewhere in Drury's big fat contract there lies a clause stipulating that he has to help Jagr moisturize after every shower.

      Enjoy the game everybody! We'll sift through the carnage tomorrow.

      Thursday, October 4, 2007

      Game 1 Sens 4, Laffs 3 (OT): The Good, The Bad, The Creamy Middle

      The Good:

      • Well, we won, so that’s something.
      • Gerber looked solid. At least I think that was the gist of Pierre “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??” McGuire’s breathless analysis. His point about Gerber’s confidence was a little subtle for the casual fan such as myself to grasp. He really should have repeated it eight or nine more times.
      • Heater is on pace to score 168 goals. Projected over the life of his new contract that would be $44,642.86 per goal. Bargain!
      • Wade “The Monster From Lloydminster” Redden! Throwin’ down, and gettin’ bloody! “He was all up in my business yo, and I was all, like YO, chill bitch, befo’ I cap your honkey ass.” Or some such suitably Western Prairie Farmer smack.

      The Bad:

      • Wade Redden throwin’ down and gettin’ bloody. Seriously, guys. When Reds is the most emotional guy on the ice, you might want to crank it up a bit. Just saying.
      • Brian McGratten being the most emotional guy OFF the ice. Mr. Paddock, a word please. I know you’re a little rusty at this “Head Coaching” business, but when one of your star defencemen gets into TWO fights, you might want to send a message to the other team that that may not be, perhaps, on the whole, entirely cricket. Please look to your right. Observe the large angry man currently chewing through the boards to get at the offending opponent. Tap said angry man on the back, thus restoring the universe to its natural harmonic balance. Thank you.
      • JAAAAYSSONNNNN!!!( In the manner of Fred Flinstone’s WILLLLMAAA!) What on God’s green earth will it take, to make you stop THROWING THE FUCKING PUCK THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF YOUR OWN FUCKING ZONE??? Maybe we can try some kind of electro shock therapy, because nothing else is working. Every time you do it, 50,000 volts goes shooting through your junk.

      The Creamy Middle:

      Up next, well-well, if it isn’t the Leafs again. This time at home, and this time with the full CBC HNIC treatment. I’m predicting the boys will come out with a little more jump in their legs tonight. I’m also predicting that Mssrs. Newbury and Battaglia would do well to watch their backs. I also hear there may be a small ceremony before the game, possibly involving a banner of some sort. I have no idea whatever what that could be.

      Be safe kids! Enjoy the rematch. If you're of a mind, head over to the always entertaining game thread at Battle of Ontario. Or, at the very least, do what I'll be doing. Take a shot every time Bob Cole screws up a name.

      Go Sens Go!!

      $45,000,000.00 Can Buy Many Peanuts…And Third Graders

      What follows is a partial transcript of a half remembered conversation I had with a friend* while sitting in a local pub** sometime last week. Names have been omitted to protect the naively disillusioned.

      Him: Hey, here's a nice little story about some Sens players....a bunch of them were in Jack Astor's yesterday having a bite to eat after their scrimmage. A few little kids, no older than 9, dressed head to toe in Sens gear, went up to them and were ignored by one of the clubs stars....completely ignored. So Spezza comes in to join his teammates at the restaurant and the small kids kind of shyly amble over toward the players again and as soon as Mr Spezza saw the kids he gives them all hellos and high fives and autographs........while the player sitting beside Spezza continues to ignore them. Wanna guess who?

      Me: (looking around): Seriously, whose leg do you have to hump to get a beer around here??

      Him: C’mon man. Guess who.

      Me: Was this an eyewitness account and if so, who saw it? Excuse me! Miss?? Fuck.

      Him: My wife’s brother’s girlfriend’s niece was an eyewitness. She didn't know who the other players were....except for the one who never made eye contact with the kids at all. Dany Heatley. The guy is a jerk.

      Me: Meh. Maybe it's a distrust of fans bred after the car accident. And even if it's just a touch of the asshole, don't make no never mind to me. There are enough genuinely nice guys on the team to make up for it. And back-to-back 50 goal seasons makes me very forgiving. CAN I GET ANOTHER STELLA HERE PLEASE?? THANK. YOU.

      Him: Kids. He did it to kids. Kids who don't care how much money he makes or how many goals he scores. He is a star on the team they cheer for. He is a star they look up to. He's a jerk.

      Me: You said that already. Look, remember a favorite trick for memorabilia whores is to send Poor-Little-Timmy in for something, preferably wrapped in a leper's cowl. Big Star signs/gives something to Little Timmy out of sympathy, and twenty minutes later it's up on ebay as a "one-of-a-kind!!" Meanwhile, Little Timmy is at the 7-11, splitting 20 bucks worth of bottomless Slurpees with his peeps. Or maybe he was just having a bad day. Or, maybe he is a jerk. Like I said, I don’t care. The days of holding pro athletes up as role models for kids is long gone, if it ever was to begin with.

      Him: Yeah. Guess so. Hey, you gonna drink that?

      Me: Probably not. I think the waitress just spit in it.

      My point, and I do have one, is this: C’mon Dany. You’re going to be here for the next seven years. Lighten up a bit, okay?

      *Possibly imaginary

      **Probably drunk

      Wednesday, October 3, 2007

      Oh Dany Boy, The Banks, The Banks Are Smiling

      Terry Marcotte from CTV Ottawa has just confirmed that Heater has signed for six years, $45 million.

      Damn, that feels good. A home town discount in exchange for a long term deal. More on this tomorrow, but for now, lift a pint, settle in for the opener and rejoice in the fact that the Leafs have fallen just that much further behind us.

      Arbitrary And Meaningless Deadlines Are Such Fun!

      When I went to bed last night, Heatley and the Senators had broken off talks for a new contract. Visions of lawyers in suits worth more than my car, throwing paper in the air, calling each other nasty names and storming out of the bar danced through my head. I was convinced all was lost.

      Then I woke up to this in the Ottawa Sun:

      TORONTO — Talks to keep Dany Heatley in a Senators uniform are heating up. The club’s two-time 50-goal scorer, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, could be signed, sealed and delivered on a new long-term contract with the Senators by the time puck is dropped tonight against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

      Suddenly all was hope and light, sunshine and lolipops, dogs and cats laying together. Salvation was at hand! Then this in the Ottawa Citizen:
      The two sides continue to talk, but Stacey McAlpine, one of Dany Heatley's agents, said it's "premature" to say that a new deal with the Senators is imminent.
      And now, here I am, torn, eyes to the heavens, rending garments. Then I am struck, in order, by the following thoughts:

      A) One of Dany Heatley's agents?? How many do you need? As our friends at Four Habs Fans can attest, the likelihood of reaching any kind of agreement drops exponentially in direct proportion to the number of lawyers in the room.

      B) Why is Heater so insistent that in no way will he entertain a contract offer during the season? That it has to be done before 7:30 tonight, or not until the end of the season? Is he afraid that the intense effort required in figuring out how to spend the $6-7 million he's guaranteed to get, no matter who signs him, will so consume him, that he'll forget how to skate, or take precious time away from his otherwise more fruitful pursuits such as ignoring seven year old autograph hounds (more on that tomorrow)?

      As of the last update, the two sides are less than $1 million apart on a six year deal. We might be able to lock up a back-to-back-to-maybe-back 50 goal scorer for six years! And that's going to fall apart because his lawyers can't agree with our lawyers on how to find a middle ground on what amounts to Eugene Melnyk's walking around money?

      C'mon guys. Get it done, and get it over with. And if it doesn't work today, well, I've heard rumours that business can also be conducted on other days that end in "y". What are you doing for lunch tomorrow?

      Star winger, Senators work on contract that could be signed on eve of season opener
      No Heatley deal imminent: agent [Ottawa Citizen]

      Tuesday, October 2, 2007

      Your Totally Half-Assed Season Preview

      As I've mentioned before, I'm not very good at previews. While I like to argue that a player-by-player breakdown of a team into its component parts serves no purpose as it discounts the holistic strengths inherent in a cohesive unit (the whole being greater than the sum of parts and all that), the truth of the matter is that I'm just too fucking lazy.

      That said, with the 2007-2008 season less than 32 hours away (and I hope you're as moist about that as I am), I felt I owed it to both my loyal readers to put something up before puck drop tomorrow night, if only to be able to justify the inevitable and merciless taunting I will be doing over the broken, bleeding bodies of our opponents come next June.

      So buckle up as we take a line by line trip through the locker room, albeit in a less alliterative fashion, and some quick thoughts on the playoffs. Because October is not too soon to be thinking about April. We will then get back to our regularly scheduled rants, rumours and innuendo. Promise.


      1st line: Heatley, Spezza, Alfreddsson.

      For the time being anyway. Unlike the more mainstream pundits, I've never been that orgasmically enamoured by the "CASH" line. Aside from the lamest line nickname in history, putting these three together has always smacked of putting too many eggs in one basket. As we saw in the Finals last year, shut this line down and our scoring goes into the crapper. This will no doubt change as the season goes on, with Alfie dropping to the second line and for that, I will be very grateful. But in the meantime, Alfie's continuing mission to point Spezz to his own end of the rink will continue.

      2nd line: Foligno, Fisher, Eaves (subject to change if the rookie shits his pants)

      I have to admit, when I heard that The Spawn Of Mike had made the team, my first thought was that he'd be a good fourth line cog to plug into the hole left by Dean McAmmond's temporary inability to tie his own skates, and that once that was rectified, little Nicky would be riding the buses in Bingo for at least another year. Imagine my surprise to open this morning's paper and find him on the second line. On the strength of his preseason, I'll give him the benefit of my considerable doubt, but you have to think that Paddock will be rather quick with the hook if things don't go as planned. As for Fish, well everyone knows my feelings on him. And Patty Eaves has always been underrated, I think. While his history of injury makes me a little nervous, all he does is give everything he has to any role he's asked to play, and without bitching about it. You can never have too many of those guys.

      3rd line: Vermette, Kelly, Neil

      At the risk of hyperbolizing, these three are the guys that will be responsible for winning us that Big Ugly Trophy next spring. Arguably, the best third line in the League, they've done nothing but improve from year-to-year, to the point that they would easily play on any other team's second unit (and yes, I am including Neil in that). While the primary role of any third line is to check the opposition into the ice, all three have the speed to turn the other team's mistakes into a scoring chance faster than Paul Maurice can question his career choice. Look for a breakout year for all of them.

      4th line: Donovan, Inanimate Carbon Rod, Schubert/McGratten

      Welcome to the Plug-And-Play section of today's program. Until McAmmond's return we'll be seeing just about everybody playing at centre for this line, possibly up to and including the beer vendors. Look for Kelly and Fish to be double shifted along with the occasional appearance of our Athenian Wonder, while Schubert bounces back and forth from the blue line. Donovan is a bit of an unknown quantity, but if he pastes Darcy Tucker just once this season, I'm putting him on my Christmas card list.

      Defensive pairings:

      Philips/Volchenkov: Our top shut down guys, there's no reason to think they won't pick up where they left off last year. A-Train's superhuman ability to attract vulcanized rubber is a bit worrisome due to the increased probability of taking one off the head, but I wouldn't trade him for a thousand Chris Pronger wayward elbows.

      Redden/Meszaros: Let's be honest. Wade Redden will not be with the Senators past the trade deadline. We can't afford to resign him past this season, but neither can we let him walk for nothing. There is the pesky matter of his no-trade clause however. Time to earn your money Bryan. Mez suffered a bit of a sophomore slump after a stellar rookie year, but now that he has a year of top-four duty under his belt, he should be more comfortable.

      Corvo/Schubert/Richardson: I'm not entirely convinced signing Richardson was a great move. Mostly because the conditions that rendered him expendable in Philly (and if you couldn't make the Flyers last year, you have big problems) are still there, i.e.: too big, too slow. But as a seventh guy to fill in while Schube is playing on the wing, or a veteran presence to calm the whipper snappers when things get hairy, I will grudgingly admit it may have been money well spent. Corvo's howitzer from the blue line is nice to have, but the early Vegas line has the over/under on his first "I suck so much" meltdown of the year locked in for the 28th of December.


      Ray Emery's wrist/Martin Gerber/Brian Elliot

      As always, the Achilles heel. Can Rayzor be The Man once his wrist is finally healed? And more important, can he stay the hell out of any vehicular trouble? Remember, he fought the puck through most of the playoffs, but was bailed out by a crazy-good team D. At least until the Final. Will Gerber be able to hold the fort in the meantime, without having some kind of existential meltdown in his confidence? And after that, who's left? This will be the story all season. Maybe we can trade Reds for, say, Carey Price. What do you say guys, any takers?

      Fearless Prognostications:

      It's pretty safe to assume that the Sens are a lock for the division title. Boston has probably improved the most out of all five teams, but not enough to make a charge. After the rape and pillage in Buffalo, the Sabres, Habs and yes, even the Leafs, will be too busy just trying to make the playoffs to be a serious threat. That's not to say I'm not looking forward to a few more goalie fights this year (Ya heard me Toskala! Drop 'em, bitch!)

      And while there is no reason to think that we won't challenge for the conference title, that third seed (at a minimum) will come in mighty handy come April. If we're going to make a return trip to the Finals (and let's not fool ourselves, it's this year or bust...a theme I will be harping as the season goes on) we'll need to go through a much improved Rangers team and the perpetually bothersome ass-pimples that are the Pittsburgh Penguins (another year with The Pensblog. Whee!).

      So how will it shake out? We take the Pens in the Eastern Final before exacting revenge on Brian Burke and his shitty haircut for the Cup. Then again, I'm just a lazy bastard talking out of his ass here, and I reserve the right to repudiate, reject or otherwise deny anything I just wrote. But enough of this. Just drop the goddamned puck already!