Friday, December 28, 2007

Ottawa Senators. Cancer Free Since--What? WHO? Aw Son Of A...

Fuck you Ray Emery. You made me break a promise. You made me break a promise and that pisses me off. Mind you, it doesn't piss me off as much as a primping primadonna whose inflated ego and delusions of grandeur threatens to derail an entire city's most fervent dream pisses me off, but close. You see, the promise I made, both to myself and Beloved was that, during this most peaceful and festive season of Christmas, I would put down my keyboard, climb down from my soapbox and leave all things Senators to sort themselves out without me. All I wanted was two weeks to just watch the games (or not), take in some WJHC goodness (or not), sleep too much, eat too much, drink too much and exchange awkward man hugs with long lost cousins. Two weeks. That's all I wanted. But no. You had to go and fuck it up for me. Well fine. If that's the way you want it, then listen up fuckstick.

We'll put aside the tattoos, the cockroach and the Tyson mask. We'll even put aside your inability to drive like an actual human being. Those were just circus side shows for the press to write about on off days. Those things had absolutely no bearing, and no effect on what went on between the boards. You played well, at times spectacularly, and we went to the Final. Everybody loved you. We even overlooked the fact that, in those five games against the Ducks, you very much choked like an asthmatic Greg Norman, but then, so did the rest of the team and all was forgiven. But not now, and not anymore. Because what you're doing now is affecting what goes on between the boards, and in the dressing room. Most important of all, you're screwing with our title shot Ray, and that cannot be tolerated.

So let me lay it out for you. You don't like being the backup? Fine. How about you don't suck? How about not giving up 10 goals on 80 shots in your last three full games? How about not pulling yourself out of game five minutes in because you suddenly felt a "twinge" in an old injury you swore up and down to your coach not seven days before was fully healed? And while we're on the subject, how about not scheduling off season surgery so late in the summer that you miss most of training camp? Oh that's right, I forgot. Superheroes such as yourself don't need training camp.

Nor do they need practice, right Ray? You throw a hissy fit yesterday after finding out you weren't the starter against the Islanders, and then today, you show up five minutes before practice is supposed to start, leaving Coach P no choice but to throw your ass off the ice as an example to everybody that no one is bigger than the team. And rightly so. If Heater had been the one to pull that bullshit, I hope he'd have been sent home too.

But, see, here's where it gets especially infuriating. Now the entire organization has to cover your ass. Instead of thinking about Ovechkin and the Caps tomorrow night, the Head Office has to put out lame excuses for you, how you're "sick" and "not feeling well enough to practice". The rest of the team is left to answer the same question from the press about "What's wrong with Ray?" and tell everyone with a microphone and a note pad, over and over again, how this is in no way a distraction.

Well, guess what ARE a distraction. But what you may not realize is this: you are very much an expendable distraction. Consider, you're being paid $3 million a year to be a backup. Darth Gerber has been (and may God forgive me for saying this) as solid as they come this season. Jeff Glass and his 2.36GAA and 92.5 save percentage is waiting in Bingo. And finally, there are quite a few teams a hell of a lot further away from a Cup than you are right now, crying for goaltender. Do the math Ray. Do the math, and shut the fuck up. Or in the words of The Captain:

“To get considered for a start, (the coaching staff) is looking for him to show that he wants to be in there,” said Alfredsson, who said he had not seen Thursday's incident. “You have to work hard in practice to show that you want to play. That’s what most players do when they’re not playing and the goalies are no different.”

Now, I can't imagine how angry Alfie has to be to call out a teammate in public, mostly because he has never had to do it before, but I'm fairly certain that's Swedish for "the Emperor has no clothes". And remember Ray, we ran one asshole who thought he was bigger than the team out of town on a rail, so don't think we won't do the same to you.

Alexei Yashin Will Take His Ball And Go Home [Five For Smiting]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Game 32: Sens 3, Bruins 2 -- Now Starting In Goal For YOUR Boston Bruins...Oh For The Love Of...

Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:

  • Mix 1 part Id, 2 parts Super-ego. Stir. Bring to boil: Train of thought for Bruins starter Alex Auld – “My Bruins sweater tells me I’m good. But my Coyote pads and mask say I suck. Mommy! What do I do??”
  • Okay, NOW we’re under budget: The TD Banknorth Garden cost 160 million dollars to build. It is truly an architectural marvel. A veritable state of the art entertainment palace, packed with every luxury imaginable. The scoreboard alone cost $4 million. So…um…what’s with 98 cents worth of naked 100W bulbs being used as goal lights? Really Harry. If you wanted to bring something over from the old Gardens, you probably could have done better than that. Like maybe a real live crowd for starters.
  • Correction! TWO perfectly good jackets!: Pssst…Coach P. Do me a favour? Can you please return the suit you wore last night to whatever wino you rolled to get it? While tweed is considered, in some circles, rather professorial, without the suede elbow patches, it just screams poseur. And the vertical stripes almost caused my new 56” HDTV to explode in protest. Thanks.

The Highs:

  • Yeah! I got one! Now get the hell off my lawn: The year was 2005. FourHabsFans were still just four lawyers bitching about the Habs. Jamie Lynn Spears was an innocent lass of 14 living in Big Sister’s double wide. And on the 26th of November, Luke Richardson scored his last goal. His last goal, that is, until last night. We await word of any biblical ramifications stemming from this event.
  • I see England. I see France. I see Bruins’ underpants!: For 2:30 of a 4:00 power play, the big line, with help from Mesz and Corvo (yes, that one) played keep away entirely inside the Bruins blue line, until Golden Groin finally ended their misery by getting his second of the night. Whereupon the Bruins penalty killers were finally free to suck on their oxygen tanks, retrieve the many articles of normally invisible garments strewn about the ice and place a bulk order for more jockstraps.

The Lows:

  • Those diesel fumes? Don’t worry, you’ll get used to them: Spawn of Mike continues to impress upon the coaching staff that perhaps another year of seasoning might be in order. Nicky, a small word of advice from an interested observer: when playing on the first line with two of the greatest talents in the league, you would do well to try more than just dumping the puck deep. Gotta make a play kid.
  • You take it. No, you take it. No, you. Please, I insist: Twice, on odd man rushes did our brave heroes pass up on a high percentage shot to try the pretty pass through the slot. Both times, they were rejected. Both times, the rush went the other way forcing Darth Gerber to save your collective hides. The moral of the story? They’re not booing; they’re saying SHOOOT!!!
  • Never thought I’d say this, but I miss Jacques: Speaking of rather spotty defence, I counted three Bruins breakaways in the first period caused by a bad pinch, and two brutal giveaways at the Boston blue line. THREE! Five years ago, this would have resulted in severe punishment from the head coach. Martin would have had the offending parties locked in a closet until such time as one of them managed to make him smile.

Egregious Joe Corvo Fuck Ups: Just one, surprisingly. On Ottawa’s first power play, Joe decided that he didn’t want to man the point and skated into the slot. The only problem? The Captain, down low, passed the puck…back to the now empty point. The resultant short handed breakaway (see above) by Sens killer Marco Sturm was mercifully stopped by His Sithness. Gary Galley, doing the colour for Sportsnet, upon viewing the replay posed the rhetorical question “What the heck was he thinking?” I assure you, gentle reader, my words were somewhat stronger.

Creamy Middle: For those of you scoring at home, that's six straight as our rape and pillage of the Northeast division continues. And this was as solid a win as you'll see. A few shaky moments in the first period aside (Joe), the Bruins were never really in this one. They were beaten to every puck, lost almost every battle on the boards and were treated to the sight of Verms and Neil taking repeated runs at Chara' thighs (Guys...the dude is 7"3' on skates...You? Not so much. Aim higher). For a team short three key players, that ain't half bad.

Up Next: Tomorrow night, in Atlanta. For we unlucky bastards forced to watch the local A-Channel feed and thus will be subjected to three hours of Gord Wilson's windbaggery, we can at least take solace in the fact that with a win, the Sens can sweep the season series against the Thrashers and finally put those "Who won the Hossa/Heatley trade?" to bed once and for all. Not that that will stop Simmons from typing something stupid about it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Game 31: Sens 7, Thrashers 3 -- The Schwartz Is Strong In This One

Alright, I'm convinced. Darth Gerber has returned. I was tempted to retire "Swiss Pastry" (or at least put it aside, always leaving it within easy reach mind you) after he bailed the Senators' inexplicably horrendous asses out during the first period Thursday night absolutely robbing Syd and the Kiddie Corps in the process. Sherry, over at Scarlett Ice, already had. But such is my utter lack of confidence in his confidence, that I decided to hold off at least one more game, with Hossa and Kovalchuck coming to town. What I hadn't counted on is how craptacular the Thrashers not named Hossa or Kovalchuck actually are. But, based on the fact that he made the stops he needed to make last night (especially on those back-to-back 5 on 3s in the 3rd), kept most of the rebounds out of the middle of the slot and managed not to slide into the first row on any of his initial stops, I'll give it back. Really, what choice do we have, right Ray?

The Highs:
  • Do you suffer from motion sickness? Talk to your doctor about Dimenhydrinate: We started 16-2. Then we went 0-5-2. Now we're on a 5 game win streak. All of this means we're still on top of the East by 8 points and leading the division by 6 (all Massholes enraged by the NHL's screwy math, please line up outside the Commissar's office...that is once you remember Boston has a hockey team). While the standings after 31 games can't be considered a surprise, how we got here is. Therefore, for the remainder of this season, all Senators fans presenting a "Sens Army" window flag, will receive a 20% discount on all purchases of Gravol and Dramamine.
  • Oh. So thaaaat's "Secondary Scoring". Gotcha: Mesz, with his fifth of the year, continues his reign of terror on Scandinavian goaltenders, leading the scoring race amongst all right-handed defencemen born in Povazska Bystrica, Slovakia in 1985. Seriously. Look it up. Verms, Kelly, and Spawn of Mike also chipped in. A lovely compliment to Heater's (ho hum) third straight two goal game.
  • This is never easy to say: Another two points for Joey Corvo, including the assist (nice saucer pass Joe) on Heater's second of the night to make it 6-3 and pop Atlanta's balloon, gives him 10 points in 10 games. I know I've been hard on you Joe. And make no mistake, your efforts are appreciated. But I still want your ass traded as soon as humanely possible. Why? Read on...
The Lows:
  • This is never easy to say (Part II): Joe, the only reason you were in position to get that assist was because you had come out of the box following yet another stupid offensive zone penalty at exactly the right time. And while we're on the subject how does one score 10 points in 10 games and yet have a +/- rating of +8 in those games? Now, statistically, you're golden. Good for you. But statistics won't tell us how many times you cough up the puck at the point (6 by my count, all of them right toSydney Freakin' Crosby on Thurdsay with a couple of others to Kovalchuck last night) or get caught out of position or just flat out get beat. There's a reason we're giving up an obscene amount of shots against this year. And a lot of it has to do with the play of #7.
  • Hello, Home Depot? I'd like 22 rolls of bubble wrap please: First there was Golden Groin's practice mishap. Then, Rayzor's adventures in a batting cage. Next, Ray again, for reasons unknown, having to pull himself out of the game in Carolina (after dicking the team around in warm ups, I feel compelled to add). The very next night Gratz goes down with a shoulder injury in fight with Laraque, not because he was beaten mind you, but because he was trying to shake his glove loose. And now we have Fish out for an undetermined amount of time because of what's being called "an oblique muscle injury" suffered...wait for it...after Sean Donovan crashed into him during a line change. Did I mention Fish was on the bench at the time?
Creamy Middle: More good than bad in this one. We'll take the two points, thank you, and we can safely assume that the danger of falling back into another slump has passed...for now. The effort is up (that's GOOD!), but we're still way too inconsistent in our own end to be totally comfortable with any kind of lead (that's BAD!). Darth Gerber is giving us $3mil per year goaltending (that's GOOD!), yet Swiss Pastry lurks just beneath the surface (that's BAD!) waiting for a fluke goal to come roaring back. And of course, there's always Joe...(that' forget it).

Up Next: Tuesday night, in Boston, Sportsnet with the coverage. As I'm looking at the four feet of snow that has drifted up my garage door, I can only hope I can dig myself out in time to make a beer run for this one. Seriously. Have you looked outside? Boss, unless you've got a sled team waiting for me, I may not be in tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Game 29: Sens 6, Canes 0 – We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Bitch Slap

Dear NHL,

On behalf of the Ottawa Senators, I regret to inform you that our “Guaranteed Win” promotion has now officially come to an end. We would like to thank all those who took advantage of this generous offer over the last few weeks; however, our season’s stock of losses was depleted much more quickly than we had anticipated. Therefore, due to these pressures, we must readjust the cost of our remaining supply from its sale price of “Here you go! Enjoy” to its original price of “Not a hope in Hell, losers”. While we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, we would also like to remind you that rain checks will not be honoured at this time. Please rest assured that we look forward to discussing this, and many other issues, in person with as many of you as possible between now and the 6th of April 2008.

The Highs:
  • OH NO YOU DI-INT!!!: Fish, dude…wow. Words fail me. Just…wow. I hereby vow to name all of my future male offspring after you. Seriously, all of them. And had you managed to grab the assist for the Gordie Howe, that would have applied to the girls too. As an aside, I’d like to say that that was probably the last time Scott Walker is going to take a run at an opponent’s last available goaltender, but as evidenced by his twin cheap shots (head butt and sucker punch while Fish was restrained by the linesman) after his perfectly deserved pummeling, his brain obviously resides somewhere in the vicinity of his sphincter. So I’ll have to say “probably not”.
  • And what God has joined, let no man put asunder: Symbiosis: n.; a close relationship between organisms in which the outcome for each is highly dependent upon the other. One had a goal, and two assists. The other scored two goals, with one assist. Each finished with three points. So…which do you prefer gentlemen? Jasy Speatly or Danon Heatzza?
  • If we can figure out a way to do this for every game, we’re golden: This should come as no surprise to either of my loyal readers, but watching Pastry come into the game cold didn’t exactly fill me with the pink and squishies. Thankfully, my visions of blowing a two goal lead while he lay flopping around behind the net like a gutted trout proved to unfounded. Doesn’t mean you get the “Darth” moniker back just yet Gerbs. We’ll see how tonight shakes out first.
The Lows:
  • I’m pretty sure Beloved once told me that communication is important in all loving relationships: Pssst…Ray. See that guy over there in the office? That one. With the bad haircut and perma-scowl? Yeah, he’s your “coach”. Now follow along please. If, at any time in the future, you may feel that you’re not up to playing that night, you go and talk to him before the game. That’s right. Before the game. Okay? Got that? Great!
  • Um…that’s it. That’s all I got: Statement games such as this don’t generally produce too many. And that is why we love them.
Creamy Middle: Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re back. Thank you. Thank you very much. How about a big hand for our standins, folks! Thanks guys! We all realize you did the best you could. Really. It really is too bad they have to leave now, isn’t it folks? Yes. Yes it certainly is. Thanks again boys. And don’t take this at all in the wrong way, but I sincerely hope never to see your ugly faces again this season. Now go home and grab your fucking shine boxes.

Up Next:

Tonight, on the road, it’s Flightless Birds season! If memory serves, these are the same asshats that started our slide a few weeks back. Yes. I seem to recall two blown leads, a shootout, and Sydney Crosby’s smugness staring up at me in the next day’s paper. Hmmm. Time for another curb stomping boys!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sundin Grants Rare Glimpse Inside Leafs Dressing Room

I, Larry Tannenbaum, would like to assure Leaf Nation that their captain remains 100% committed minimizing any distractions that may detract from our stated pre-season corporate goal: finishing low enough to have a shot at drafting John Tavares.

Not seen: The MLSE marketing department lobbying hard for next year's "Third Jersey".

Friday, December 7, 2007

Games 26 & 27: Sens 8, State Of Florida…um…8 – Creamy Middle, Moral Victory Edition

Update: Through a series of smoke signals, Morse code and strangely erotic interpretive dance, we've been informed that our heroes defeated the Stars last night 4-2. Okay, I got it from here. In any event, we might be on to something here. We'll know for sure on Wednesday.

Okay Bryan. Most of the angry mob that had gathered outside your office has been mollified and left to make last call at Marshy’s. You can probably open the door again. But just because they put down the torches and pitchforks, doesn’t mean you can relax. After all, they left them within easy reach. See? Everything is right over there in the parking lot, between the hot dog vendor and the guillotine.

The Highs:

  • Kool-Aid Will Continue To Be Served On The Mezzanine Level Until 6:00pm: For all of the wailing and rending of garments going on around here over the last seven games, we would do well to remember that the boys still managed to grab 5 of 14 points. Lucky? Sure. But we’ll take ‘em. This means we’re still four points up on the Hartolina Whalicanes for tops in the East. Even more miraculous, we’re only three back of Detroy-it for first overall. Who said October games are meaningless? Oh right. I did.
  • Superman Never Made Any Money, Saving The World From Solomon Grundy: Swedes are well known as a rather stoic people, and for good reason. You never see news reports of drunken mobs, liquored up on Carlsberg and Absolut rampaging through the streets of Stockholm, pummeling innocent passers by with blunt objects (well, almost never). And so it is with The Captain. He threw the team on his back with 13 points in 7 of the crappiest games played in the last ten years, including single-handedly stealing a point for us in Tampa Bay. So Daniel, you have our permission to cut loose. Go CRRR-AAAY-ZZAY Viking style! Kiss your beautiful girlfriend…on the mouth…IN PUBLIC! No, really it’s okay. You’ve earned it.

The Lows

  • Danger Will Robinson John Paddock! Danger!:Anyone who thinks the slump is done, that PHEW!, we’re out of the woods with nothing but sunshine and lollipops in front of us, and is therefore scrambling to get back on the bandwagon, please consider the following facts:
    • A) We beat the Panthers for our only win in eight games. Not exactly the ’76-’77 Habs are they? (why the hell do they keep popping up??)
    • B) All of the problems that led to the slump (shaky goaltending, brutal giveaways, tentative breakout passes, goddammit HIT SOMEBODY!) were still in evidence on Wednesday, albeit to a lesser extent. It takes a while to break bad habits. Trust me, I’m a smoker. I know.
    • C) 25, 28, 25, 35, 22, 41. Breast sizes from FHF’s latest game threads? Nope. Shots on Goal against for the last six games. Team D, needs a little work there coach.
    • D) Fair weather fans suck and should be boiled alive in their own feces.
  • Is That Most Of Our Goals In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?: When we lost in last year’s Finals, it was in large part due to a lack of secondary scoring. When questioned about this apparent problem, your humble scribe boldly proclaimed to our enemies that this would not be a problem this year. Upon gazing in stupefaction at the Senators stats page (which I normally avoid if at all possible), my Magic Cloak of Smug Invisibility melted away in the face of cold, hard numbers. 61% of all Senator goals this year have come either from Heater or The Captain. Sixty-one freakin’ percent. If I’m Coach P, that scares the piss out of me. I’m not Coach P. (he smiles more than I do), and it scares the piss out of me. So boys, from now on and until such time as you both learn to share, you are never EVER to be in the same vehicle at the same time. One Emery-esque “mishap” and we’re screwed. We’re also going to book you into separate hotels. Don’t worry Heater. Super 8s have cable too.
Creamy Middle:

We're close kids, but not quite out of it yet. Passes that missed by six inches last week, missed by three on Wednesday. Shots that once were four feet wide, were a mere two. The skating is a little faster, the hitting is a little harder (Golden Groin excepted) and the hands seem to finally be loosening a tad. The signs of an eventual return to dominance are there. Of course, that can all turn to shit against Dallas tonight, a somewhat stronger opponent than we faced in Florida. But since that game is on Pay-Per-Screwed, I will blissfully ignore it and anything that results from it. And if things go the way of the last PPV game, even those who paid for it may be forced to ignore it as well. But I'll bet they won't be nearly as blissful.

Up Next:

Since it's the next game anybody can see, we'll go with Wednesday, on the road, at the aforementioned Whaleicanes. I take no end of amusement in the fact that the largest of Canada's Big Six banks owns the naming rights on a hockey rink in the middle of NASCAR country. And by "amusement", I of course mean "barely controllable rage". It's so nice to see the 28% interest I'm paying on my credit card going to such a worthwhile, and no doubt profitable endeavour. Believe me when I say I mean this in the nicest way possible: Fuck you Royal Bank.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Our Gods Are Vengeful. And Getting Increasingly Annoyed

It has been said (or if not, it sure as hell should have been said) that prayer is the last refuge of the desperate. Well, brothers and sisters, as we survey the landscape into which our heroes have wandered, I’d say that pretty much sums it up. Consider: Mired in a six game losing streak, the longest such streak since the Pre-Playoff Dark Ages (um…that would be pre-’96 if your just joining us). A-Train, Destroyer of Shooting Lanes, Devourer of Pucks is on the shelf for a month. On-ice competitions, run on a game-by-game basis, amongst the rest of the team for the “Biggest Fuck Up” award. Most baffling of all, Swiss Pastry has yet to be traded for some competence and a sweaty gym sock to be named later. And so, amidst so much inexplicable darkness we have no choice but to pray.

But to whom do we turn in our hour of need? God? Allah? Jehovah? In the spirit of tolerance and understanding cults with money religions the world over have taught us, I say to you: Don’t be a fucking idiot. That’s only ONE deity. All three are pretty much the same Bearded Old Dude wearing different funny hats (or as my RC upbringing taught me between inappropriate touches…our “Good God” funny hat, and two “You Will All Suffer Eternal Hellfire You Heretical Bastards” funny hats), and He’s a tad busy, what with all the death, war, famine and pestilence to look after. No, if we’re going to make it worth our while to beseech a higher power, we’re rolling old school. We’re going Roman.

Why Roman? Well, aside from the obvious ties to team themes (I still say they should feed some Christians to Spartacat between periods. What?? Oh, like three hundred 8yr old Timbit players falling all over the ice is better?? The potential violence alone should scare the crap out of you), it’s pretty safe to assume that you don’t conquer 90% of the known world, run an empire, and lay the bedrock for Western Civilization without some pretty bad-ass help. Well, those crazy kids (the Romans, not the Timbits) had that, and plenty of it. 259 Bad Asses to be exact, 28 of which were classified as “Major” deities.

We’ll leave the important gods alone for now. After all, things aren’t that bad. I mean, we’re not the Leafs or anything. For now, we’ll go with these six, with a proviso that more will be added as required.

Ahem…OHHH Gods Of Rome Randomly Chosen From A List! You’re all SO really big! Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I’ll tell you! We, humble mortals beseech you, hear our prayers:

  • Hercules, God Of Strength, grant us the fortitude necessary to restrain ourselves from running Swiss Pastry out of town on a rail with orders never to return. Or, conversely, grant us the strength to throw his overpaid, underachieving ass into the Rideau canal the next time he sucks the tits off a goat.
  • Angerona, Goddess who relieves men from pain and sorrow, grant A-Train a speedy, and complete recovery! Um…in time for the next Leaf game would be great, but it’s not, you know, like, mandatory. Thanks.
  • Felicitas, Goddess of Good Fortune, please bestow your blessings on Heater, Kelly, Alfie and Verms, so that they may know, once again, the sweet feeling of hitting the inside of the post for a change.
  • Providentia, Goddess of Forethought, we beg you to watch over Golden Groin and grant him the wisdom and knowledge necessary to avoid bad turnovers in our end. Trust us when we say we’ve tried. Seriously. You’re our last hope. Failing that, please send sharp pains through his colon every time he does it.
  • Nodulus, God Who Makes Knots In Stalks Of Wheat! You are included here simply because I think your job description is hilarious. Moving on.
  • Nemesis, Goddess of Revenge, we ask that you smite our divisional enemies by the vilest of means, so that they may once again tremble before us, thus restoring order to the universe. A little extra effort in Toronto would be appreciated.
  • And finally, to you Verminus, God of Cattle Worms. See above. Did I mention Nemesis is a woman? I foresee beautiful music for the two of you. Your kids might be a little unpopular though.

Well, that should just about cover it for tonight’s Tampa Bay game. We'll see how that works. And let this be a warning to the rest of the league. We’ve got 253 more in our pocket, and we’re not afraid of using them. Don’t make me go Jupiter on your asses.