Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Captain Loves Us, And Wants Us To Be Happy

Other than those impossibly cute six-year-olds-falling-all-over-the-ice Tim Horton's commercials, not much surrounding hockey chokes me up anymore. And, in this modern age of Me-First pro athletes, there's even less that justifies and rewards my scant and ever decreasing faith in those who play the game we watch and obsess over. Today, some of that was restored.
The Senators announced today they've signed their captain to a four-year contract extension believed to be worth $21.6 million that includes a "no-movement" clause, which will allow the 35-year-old to finish his career in an Ottawa uniform.
As Sens Army points out, The Captain accepted a rather large hometown discount in order to stay with the team that took a sixth round flyer on a skinny kid from Gothenburg. And all he's done for us in return is...everything.

Sorry, Mr. Finnigan, but would you mind terribly if we asked you to move over a bit? We're going to need the room in the rafters.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sens 5, Sabres 2: Well I'll Be Buggered...

At about 9:20 last night I flipped from the World Series of Mud Wrestling (aside: Tim McCarver in HD frightens me...deeply) to TSN for a little MNF goodness, and what to my startled eyes should appear in the crawl at the bottom of the screen? Senators 5, Sabres 0. Holy. Florking. Shnitz.

Convinced I had misread that, I stayed up to watch SportsCentre, and whaddya know...we won. Three points (2 goals, 1 assist) for Giggles, two (1 and 1) for Heater, 2 assists for The Captain and a goal for Schubie Doo to boot! (Aside #2: If that doesn't keep #5 in the line up, Coach, you and I will have issues).

Added bonus? Adam Mair losing his mind:
OCALA, Fla. — Expect to see Adam Mair get the book thrown at him by the NHL. A league official confirmed to Sun Media today that the league is reviewing the incident of Mair marching down the hallway late in the Senators' 5-2 victory at the HSBC Arena to try to get Ottawa winger Chris Neil.
It should be noted that I didn't see the original unpleasantness that led to Mr. Mair's willingness to fork over his next game cheque or three (screw you and your overpriced channel, NHL Network!) so I'm a little hesitant, for once, to editorialize. Suffice to say though, anytime Neiler can infuriate an opponent into a confrontation in which Jarkko Ruutu stands as the voice of reason, he's earned his money...and made most of my special places tingle.

The best part? Neiler wasn't even in the room.
Neil and Mair had both been thrown out of the game at the time of the incident, but Neil wasn't in the club's dressing room yet.
See Buffalo? This is why you can't have nice things.

Up Next:

Thursday night, the boys are in that hockey hotbed of Miami, Florida for a rematch with the Tabby Cats. Ordinarily, I'd mention the local t.v. coverage at this point. But there isn't any. Again. Nope, nothing available guessed it...the NHL Network. I swear by all that is holy, Gary, if you make me pine for the days of A-Channel and Gord Wilson, I will cut you.

Behind Enemy Lines:

Welcome to The Litter Box. Fantastic name, and a very informed read. There may be hope for that market yet, no matter what Winnipeg says.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Leafs 3, Sens 2: It Being Sunday, We Turn To A Higher Power


The Singular High:
  • Mr. Neil welcomes you to the big leagues: To hear Leaf Nation tell it, Luke Schenn is some sort of bastard hybrid built from a combination of Cliff Fletcher's senile imaginings and bits of Hap Day's dessicated corpse. That may all be well and good, but the youngster may want to pick his spots a little better. Hint: Running after Chris Neil to "avenge" a hit on a teammate that never actually happened isn't one of them.'s your face feeling today, Luke?
The Lows:
  • This is as good a place to start as any: Oh, how innocent and lovely it all seemed at the time. You, the rugged, macho impresario and me, the coquettish ingenue seduced by the swagger and musky odour. But like all summer romances, Gator, things fade. Perhaps not seeing the number on your back as you fish yet another puck out of our own net would rekindle the flame. Oh...and maybe hitting a few guys too. That would be nice.
  • Another such victory we are undone: According to legend, those words were related by Dionysius to his King, Pyrrhus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans. Hence, the term "Pyrrhic Victory" has come to define a meaningless gain at the cost of the greater good. What does this have to do with anything? Filip Kuba has 11 points in 5 games. Damn near a record. Very nice, yes? In those five games, with his 11 points, he's barely breaking even at +1.
  • This bit always worked for my mom: I'm very disappointed in you. Honestly, of all the things I imagined could possibly go wrong this year, you weren't one of them. And yet, here we are. You won't hit anyone. You're constantly caught out of position. And when those big meanies in the different coloured shirts bother our poor goalie, you just stand there like a useless lump. So, Christon Phillchenkov, what do you have to say for yourself?
Creamy Middle:

I've climbed down a little from the ledge I found myself on roughly 13 hours ago. Losing to the Laffs will do that to me. Being one point out of last place in the entire freakin' League will do that to me. Sure, we can't (or won't) hit, can't (or won't) shoot, can't (or won't) clear the crease, can't (or won't) take care of our own zone, and yeah, the D is getting torched to the outside before getting its ass handed to it night after night after night... But, no, this isn't the worst Senators team since '93. It can't be. 15, 19 and 11 aren't exactly Bob Kudelski, Sylvain Turgeon and Jody Hull, and never will be...thank Christ. Which brings me to...

Unsolicited Advice Because I'm A Fan, And I Know Everything:
  • Stop screwing around, Coach: The top line stays together. Full Stop. If you can't figure out how to get Verms or Fish or Kelly or anybody with a fucking pulse from the bottom three lines to the front of the net, then you don't deserve the Big Whistle. Yeah...we're fickle bastards, we fans. Deal.
  • A small side bar with regard to our achilles heel: Buckle up, Alex. You're the man now, dawg. Until Brian Elliot is good to go, our playoff hopes rest squarely on your 6'5" shoulders. think October is a little early for that kind of pressure? Check the standings, buckwheat. Two points is two points, no matter when they come. What's that? Gerber? Screw him. He's done.
  • There are far too many things wrong with this team that will fit here: But I'll get to them. Never fear.
Up Next:

Tomorrow night, on the road against the division leading (and undefeated in regulation) Buffalo Sabres. There's no local t.v. for this, and since I was too cheap to spring for Centre Ice (Sorry Gary, but Sunday Ticket ate up my entire Useless Subscription Budget for this year) I will be mercifully spared the inevitable ass raping we'll be enduring. On the upside, it leaves me free to craft a 3000 word opus on how many things are wrong with this team. Won't that be fun?

Behind Enemy Lines:

Fellow NY Times unpaid intern/indentured serf Kate, at the Willful Caboose brings her special brand of gleeful incredulity to our little corner of the Tubes. If I can offer but one piece of advice...enjoy it now Kate. Because the inevitable crash really, really sucks. Trust me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Notepad Chicken Scratch -- Leafs 3, Sens 2: Worst Senators Team Ever? Discuss.

You wouldn't think so, would you? On paper, we have to be better than the '92-'93 team, right? You remember them. Won 10 games all year. Didn't win a road game until the end of March. They were so bad that the League was convinced they threw the last game of the season for the privilege of taking...*cough*...Alexandre Daigle first overall. Of course, now, everybody knows we weren't good enough to fix games.

So why are the feelings exactly the same? Could it be the ridiculous number of shots we give up? Could it be that once the opposition scores a goal, I'm convinced the game is over because we have NO FUCKING OFFENCE?? Or, could it be we have the slowest, dumbest, softest goddamn defence ever to curse an Ottawa crease? Yeah, mostly that one.

The Creamy Middle to follow soon as I wash the bile from my mouth. And apropos of nothing...Gator, consider yourself officially on notice.

Now, I Don't Mean To Alarm Anyone...

  • The Toronto Maple Marlies sit two points ahead of the Ottawa Senators in the Division...
  • We currently find ourselves mired in 13th in the Conference...
  • We currently find ourselves a scant one point from being the worst team in all of hockey...
So what does it all mean? It means I'm busting out my parachute pants and digging my silk shirts out of storage...IT'S 1993, KIDS! WHEE! Can't touch this!

Of course, none of that matters tonight.

Have I mentioned I'm a Washington Redskins fanatic? No? Well, I am. Stupidly so. No, really. I'm giving serious consideration to naming my first born "Riggo". Even if it's a girl (Beloved has some strong feelings on the subject...damn Cheese Heads). If I ever win the lottery the first thing I'd do is buy season tickets and fly to D.C. for every game.

Now, considering how the 'Skins have performed for the last...oh...15 years, this little fact has left me open to no small amount of ridicule (hellooooo...Erin. Check the standings lately?). But no matter how badly my 'Skins sucked, no matter how hopeless things looked after yet another 4-12 season, only one thing mattered...Did they beat the Cowboys?

Welcome back to the Battle of Ontario. No matter how bad this season gets (and it's shaping up to be extremely unpleasant), come April, only one thing will matter to me...Did we beat the Leafs?

Nothing else matters, boys. Curbstomp those bitches.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Panthers 3, Sens 1: Urge To Kill...Rising...

Coach Craig crafts Friday night's lines. Not seen? The pitchfork wielding mob.

Okay...deep breaths. I won't swing the rant stick. Not this early. This is, after all, still October. Hell, we've only played five games. And as much as some of my most favoured interweb scribbling colleagues seem to enjoy it, I'll give things a little time to settle down. So, no. I won't swing the rant stick. But I sure as shit know where it is...Coach.

The Highs:
  • You know what? Fuck it! You don't deserve it: I could mention the fact that Fish actually played like Fish and if not for a few sticks and skates, may have actually scored. Buy I won't. I could mention that for only the second time this season, we actually out shot an opponent over an entire game, despite getting only three (THREE!) pucks to the net in the first. But I won't. I could laud the play of Schubie Doo, and lament the fact that it took Coach Craig this long to get him back into the lineup. But I won't. And I could also mention that our PK is clicking along at a ridiculous 92%, good for fifth in the League, having given up a scant 2 goals in 25 kills. But I won't do that either. And do you know why I won't mention any of those things? Well, listen closely boys, know, I'm not sure you noticed but...we...LOST THE FUCKING GAME! THAT'S WHY!
The Lows:
  • You are now officially dead to me: Goodbye Martin. I've had it with you. I'm not even going to bother sugaring it up with cutesy nicknames. Get out...Martin. We made excuses after you folded under pressure and lost your starting job two years ago. Easy to do after Rayzor stepped in and we went to the Finals. We made excuses after you folded under pressure last year. "It was the distractions", we said. No more excuses. Go away. Take the $7M you've sucked out of the organization, and go...oh, I don't know...stuff eclairs with your shrivelled dick for all I care.
  • Those who do not learn from history, are destined to repeat it. I read that somewhere once: The Bryan tried it. It didn't work. Teflon tried it. It didn't work. The Bryan tried it again. It didn't work. So, Coach Craig...after observing your team spend the first twenty-five minutes playing like a fourth grade floor hockey team, replete with flailing sticks, missed assignments and passes to nobody, think you'd like to try it again? Here's a hint: Put 'em back together and let your boss figure out how to fix this mess.
  • About that whole "harder to play against" thing...: We were promised. We were promised a new, pain-in-the-ass, hard as nails, opposing-forwards-shitting-their-pants-as-they-go-to-the-net defence. I look forward to that defence actually showing up.
Pithy Observation Of Questionable Importance:

Wait, what?: Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you the following exchange between the TSN broadcast crew:
Pierre McGuire: "I've seen Zednik in his undergarments. That scar is nasty!"
Gord Miller: "Again, you're talking about players in their undergarments."
McGure: "What can I say? I have good taste."
Considering this started around a discussion of the scar on Richard Zednik's neck...make of it what you will.

Creamy Middle:

Our "#1" goaltender blows moose cock. The D is slow and as soft and offensively anemic as it's ever been. And other than 11, 19 and 15, we've got nothing on the front end. On the upside, we all have a front row seat to the inevitable, nail biting dogfight that will be the "race" for eighth place in the conference. I'm sure that our eventual first round sodomizing at the hands of Montreal or Pittsburgh, will make the agony of the next five months all worth it. Yeah. No problem.

Up Next:

Tomorrow night, the Anaheim No Longer Mighty Ducks come to the Bank (7:00pm, SportsNet East). Fortunately, tomorrow night is also the tenth anniversary of Beloved foolishly agreeing to be my wife, so I'm probably going to miss this. That said, I'm willing to guarantee I'll have a better night, no matter what happens on the ice.

Behind Enemy Lines:

The one, the only, Battle of California. Brilliant. Insightful. And best of all, they sound more desperately hopeless than I do. But not by much.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Notepad Chicken Scratches: Any Other Bright Ideas? The drawing board is over there.

Panthers 3, Sens 1. Coach Craig's little experiment leaves us rather underwhelmed. Nice of the boys to front-load the excrement for this one. And Pierre McGuire makes an inordinate amount of homoerotic references. Even for him.

Stay tuned for all this, and more! Coming to you in the next Creamy Middle tomorrow night...ish.

In the meantime, I'll try very hard to resist the urge to feed my Martin Gerber Collectible Voodoo doll into a wood chipper.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quick Hits: Because Saturday Night NEVER HAPPENED! Get it?

So, who gets to keep the credenza?: Channelling his inner home wrecker, Coach Craig plays a vigorous game of Line Blender and just like that, Danon Spezley are no more. Thought #1 when this flashed through my inbox? Meh. Sure as hell can't hurt to try since nothing else is working. Thought #2? This lasts two periods. At the most.

I'm sorry Martin, but I'm just not that into you: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. In completely unrelated news, Pastry gets his fourth straight start.

Suddenly, Sens fans pine for the robust physicality of Riccard Persson: Memo to Filip Kuba. do realize this is a contact sport, right? You'd better start hitting something. Anything. Please? Hell, start with the stick boy, and work your way up.

Toronto! Now 100% More Obnoxious!: The best part of my own little alternate universe in which Toronto has two teams? Imagining the anguished, 100 years-in-the-making howls of futile rage from Leaf Nation as the Oshawa Pud Wankers bring their twelve die-hard fans to ecstatic Nirvana while parading the 2067 Stanley Cup around the parking lot of Scarborough Town Centre.

Florida at the Bank tomorrow night (7:00p.m., TSN). Help control the pet population. Have your panther spayed or neutered. Do it! Or Pierre McGuire will yell at you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sens 6, Yotes 3: They're Just So Cute At This Age, Aren't They?

Of course, they'll eventually grow up. And will try to eat us. But, hey! Sorry Wayne, not this time.

The Highs:*

all Highs listed herein exclude the 3rd period in its entirety. No, seriously. The 3rd was just a big ball of suck.

  • So you want to be The Captain? Now you can! Johnny, tell them how!: Yes, you too can find out if your Little Timmy will ever make the big leagues, with our new home version of "Am I Tough Enough?" First, using a 3/8" bit, drill a hole in Little Timmy's knee. Then, remove a chunk of loose bone. Next, send him out onto the ice exactly seven days later and have 250lb defencemen try to kill him. If he plays on your team's top line, and records two assists, you win! It's fun for the whole family!
  • Atonement ( \ə-ˈtōn-mənt\) n. 1) reparation for an offense or injury: Ladies and gentlemen, Jason Spezza! Now you may be surprised, but I haven't put him up here for his four points. No. In actual fact, the things that have earned him this, without doubt the highest honour he may ever achieve, were those actions that screamed "YES! HE CAN BE TAUGHT!" These last not only include the four points, but also the 4.2 seconds of actual, hard core body contact (including a sneaky little elbow to Ollie Jokinen's noggin) in the first period, and, most important of all, the three (THREE!) occasions where he chose not to be himself and opted for the safe play up the boards rather than the blind pass through the middle. Being so out of character, you may have missed them. But trust me. They actually happened.
  • With your mountains so lovely...your treetops so tall: Roto Ruutu, while not at his pestering best, nets two goals. To put it another way, he's now eight goals away from his career high. And we're still in October. Combine this with A-Train's first goal of the season (a phenomenon not normally seen before March) and the conclusion is inescapable: End times are upon us.
  • This doesn't mean we're pickin' out curtains or nothin': Bravo Pastry! 34 saves, out of 37 shots, and the only reason we didn't blow a four goal lead in a third period in which we were outshot a zillion to three. Now string two games like this together and maybe, just maybe, I'll find a tiny, minute, infinitesimal glimmer of hope that you are in fact, The Man... HA HA! Just kidding! That will never happen.
The Lows:
  • This is becoming increasingly awkward: Fish...dude. You're not making it easy for me, are you? I have long expressed my man-crush for you. I've stuck by you through your (multiple) owies and your ridiculously long goalless droughts. But it's getting hard, man. You have to give me something, anything, I can use to justify your enormous cap hit. Hearing Dean Brown say "Fisher" without "giveaway" would be a good start. Getting back to the 30 goal, heart and soul, corner crashin' guy that made me love you in the first place would be even better. Otherwise...well...Erin may have a point...
  • This is obviously a plot to keep me awake at night: In years past (excluding the last three months of last season), being up 4-0 after two periods was reason enough for me to nod knowingly and begin drunk dialling friends and family in order to gloat over yet another glorious victory. Needless to say, this made me very unpopular among these last, which probably explains the plethora of "You're gonna choke!" voice mails I've been getting lately. So, yeah. I'd really appreciate it if ya'll could quit it with the "I don't feel like skating" portion of the third period. Thanks.
Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:
  • If, like me, you're old enough to remember the pre-Perestroika-"DA! We love Russki!" days when Canada's greatest and most feared foe was a collection of emotionless cyborg KillBots known as the Soviet Red Army, then you, as I do, experience a visceral, completely involuntary and well nigh uncontrollable urge to destroy a Lada at the mere mention of his name...Viktor Tikhonov. So imagine my surprise when I heard Dean Brown utter those very words in reference to a twenty year old whelp of a boy who plays right wing for Phoenix. Now obviously, it can't be the same person. Which leaves but one conclusion. The forces of evil have resurfaced and, as we speak, are preparing their army of clones in a bid for world domination.
  • I don't know whose idea it was, but P.A. Screamer Dude Stuntman Stu's little trick of shutting up and allowing the crowd to shout out the last name of Ottawa's goal scorers last night was fantastically awesome and should immediately become a staple of all Sens games. It won't of course. As soon as the wheels of retarded cheddar who run the marketing department realize that the crowd might be doing something completely spontaneous, they will immediately rush to drown out the noise with Stompin' Tom's "The Hockey Song".
The Creamy Middle:

Ugh. It was sloppy. It was clumsy. At times, it was impossible to watch. It was also worth two points. And if we play like that tonight against the Bruins, we're dead.

Up Next:

Um...yeah. Kinda gave it away there, but the Big Zed (they hate that down there in the 'Merica) lumbers into town leading a Bruins team Sports Illustrated picked to finish ahead of us in the division (that would put us in third, for the mathematically challenged). Are we going to take that?!?! Oh, maybe? Personally, I blame Tim Thomas. (7:00 p.m., CBC)

Behind Enemy Lines:

Welcome to The Jumbotron, a new, talented and extremely entertaining addition to the Bruins blogger base (alliteration! Wheee!). They will be appearing shortly in my blogroll if for no other reason that they referenced The Captain's knees of steel thusly: "
Holy. Fucking. Shitballs."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Leaf Nation To Sens Army: "The only real Sens fans are 15 and younger"

It's a rather pathetic failing of mine that most of my "I remember exactly what I was doing when" moments revolve around sports. Sure, there were those seminal moments in history that everyone born after the Kennedy assassination has mentally bookmarked (9/11, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Challenger explosion, the end of the Iran hostage crisis...if you're of a certain vintage...ahem).

But pretty much all of my total recall involves some sport or another. Ali destroying Spinks in The Battle of New Orleans, one of the greatest 15 round title bouts of all time? In my pyjamas, sitting in my grandparents' basement, downing 7-Up and eating salt and vinegar chips. Witnessing my first no-hitter on NBC's Saturday Game of the Week (Jack Morris, Detroit Tigers)? Ditto. Only without the pyjamas.

And on it goes...Miracle On Ice? At home, sick as a dog with the flu. Punchup in Piestany? Screaming obscenities at the t.v. under the last roof I would ever share with my mother (Don't worry, she's still alive. I just moved out a few years later. She didn't). Game 3, '87 Canada Cup? A teen dance club in Cornwall (I was 16 and perpetually horny...don't judge me). Joe Carter's home run? A bar called Hurley's in Ottawa South. About a week later, they turned it into a grocery store.

And I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the very moment the Ottawa Senators were reborn.

Now you both may be asking yourselves "What in Jesus-jumped-up-Christ does this have to do with anything??" Well, let me tell you. It has to do with this:
I often wonder where all these “lifelong” Sens fans came from. The team is not that old. Who did they cheer on before the Sens came, the 67s? Is Ottawa filled with former Habs fans who leapt off at the first sign of trouble (ie. – most of the 90s) or is OKIAs that stoppde cheering for the Leafs once the Sens got (regular season) good (ie – the latter part of our current decade.)
This particular pearl of wisdom came from commenter blurr1974 on a post at (and it pains me to say this but only because it involves the Laffs) the superbly written Pension Plan Puppets, but it's not an uncommon sentiment amongst Tannenbaum's Army Of The Wallet Bearing Undead.

They are quick to heap scorn on anyone with the temerity to *GASP!* turn their back on the Original Six once an expansion franchise lands in their laps. They cannot grasp how we, who live outside of the 905 can possibly transfer our allegiances to one of them young 'un upstarts, dagnabbit! The fact that the Opening Night crowds in Vancouver (1970) Winnipeg, Quebec City and Edmonton (1979) and yes, even Ottawa (1993) were not composed entirely of newborns shitting their Huggies boggles their imagination. So, blurr1974, let me try to enlighten you and your bretheren. Again. I'll type this slowly, since it seems some of you have trouble with basic logic: Your city is not our city. Your team is no longer our team.

Sure, before we were awarded a franchise, all Ottawa hockey fans were easily divisible between Leafs and Habs. We didn't have much of a choice, did we? Personally, I was a Habs "fan". But it was purely an accident of geography. Cornwall was closer to Montreal than Toronto. Throw in the French-Canadian side of my family, and voila; Allez La Sainte Flannelle! But it was strictly a marriage of convenience. Ottawa, an hour down the road, had always been my second home (GO RIDERS! NORTH SIDE SUCKS!).

And then a funny thing happened, blurr1974. As I lay in my dorm room at Carleton University on December 6th, 1990, drinking beer and listening to 54Rock on the crappy clock radio on my bedside table, the news guy broke into regular programming to announce something that would change my life forever. The NHL had given Ottawa a team. They gave me my team.

Yeah. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. So with all due respect blurr1974, please don't ever cast aspersions on the legitimacy of my devotion. The only reason I can't call myself a "lifelong Sens fan" is through the simple, and completely accidental fact that I happened to have been born before the team. Oh, and the #13 Jamie Baker, vintage 1993 jersey hanging in my closet kindly advises you to stick it up your ass.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Red Wings 3, Sens 2 -- So What Have We Learned From This, Class?

Well, for one thing, we've learned that it's not very wise to pull four of our five players off on a line change while nursing (and I mean nursing) a 2-1 lead as the most hellacious transition game in the league is busting down the wing. Right this way, Mr. Franzen.

The Highs:
  • The kids are alright, Part I: Ho. Ly. Crap. Little Nicky's second period goal, scored on the rebound with two defencemen draped on his back after splitting the D on an end-to-end rush, is now 1A on my list of most spectacular goals scored in Senators history, only slightly behind Giggles pwning Sheldon Souray in OT. Somebody with more interwebbing skills than mine own needs to get that up on YouTube. Like, right now.
  • The kids are alright, Part II: It so happens I'll be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle's place, a half hour down the road, in bucolic Long Sault, Ontario, home of our very own Jesse Winchester. I'm told that the Winchesters are acquaintances of the family (mostly because, if you live in Long Sault, everybody is an acquaintance). I may ask for directions to their house, if for no other reason than to prostrate myself at the feet of Jesse's father in order to properly thank him for impregnating his wife. Yeah, you might say I'm becoming a bit of a fan.
  • We now pause for a damning by faint praise: Against my better judgment, I'm going to cut you some slack here, Martin. Sure, you probably should have had that last shot. After all, real money goalies don't allow a winning goal with less than two minutes to go, no matter how many crazy bounces it takes. That said, being out shot 41-22 makes it pretty tough to blame the goalie for the loss, and you did come up with some spectacular saves, without which this game was over by the end of the second. And don't take this the wrong way, but do you know what else real money goalies do? Steal games their teams have no business winning. Just sayin'...
The Lows:
  • Somebody needs a time out chair: Look Christoph, you've made it abundantly clear you'd rather be a sixth D-man than a fourth line forward. We know that. But maybe, and I'm just spit balling here, but maybe your coaches think you're more useful to the team playing on the wing, whether or not you agree with them. So how about you stop pouting about it and, oh...I don't know...look like you give a shit about playing the game? Thanks. That'd be cool.
  • *Sigh* Let's do it ALL over again, starting with the electrical college: It seems to me, the consensus was pretty clear coming into the season. The only way we're going to go anywhere, was to work harder than our opponent. Everybody said it. More than a few wrote it. And one of the team's more enthusiastic supporters may have even spent most of Saturday afternoon yelling it from his own rooftop as he cleaned out his eave troughs...or so I heard. So what happened? Three games in and the boys are 1-for-3 in the "beat the other guys to a pulp" department. So let's try it again, shall we? All together now! LET'S GO FORE-CHECK! (clap-clap clapclapclap).
  • You cannot cure herpes, but you can contain the outbreaks: Mike Milbury just keeps popping up, doesn't he? If his polluting TSN's That's Hockey wasn't bad enough, there he was, bloviating on The Satellite Hot Stove. Great. Mike Milbury and Al Strachan on the same panel. Their combined egos may well tear open a hole in the fabric of space-time and destroy us all.
Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:
  • C'mon guys, it's the home opener! Why did everybody look like they were waiting for root canals? A little excitement during the player introductions shouldn't be that hard to muster, should it? Fish, next time I want to see you go Ray Lewis on your team's ass and do a Dirty Bird at centre ice. You've got a whole year to practice. GO!
  • Now I don't know who, or what, is in charge of the team's Pump Up The Crowd division, but my money is on a wheel of retarded cheddar. First came that ridiculous and embarrassing We Are SPARTA! intro last April *shudder* (as much as I've attempted to repress the just won't go away!). Then we get saddled with what may well go down in the annals of marketing as the lamest slogan ever..."Sens Army: A force united!" Ooooh, be still my groin! So yeah, about those intros there Edam...if you want to sustain any kind of crowd noise (a rarity in and of itself at SBP) you might want to try introducing the training staff and coaches first. If memory serves, Ed Sullivan didn't say "Ladies and Gentlemen...THE BEATLES!...coming up soon. Please welcome Harvey the Musical Wombat and his all kazoo quartet." Get it?
  • Memo to Roy Mlakar: No offence to Lyndon Slewidge, but I think our anthem could have done with a little more Swedish hottie.
The Creamy Middle:

This one is easy. The boys had to come out with their absolute best game to have a chance. They didn't. They lost. And frankly, they deserved it. If it weren't for Pastry (there's something you won't see here very often), and the erection inducing play of the kids (take a bow Messrs. Foligno, Winchester and Picard) the final score would have been much, much worse. The nice thing about watching an October game I really didn't expect them to win in the first place, is that the inevitable loss doesn't tend to cost me as much, either in sanity or fragile household items. Lay an egg like this in March? Let's just say my dog really hopes that doesn't happen.

Up Next:

Week 3 kicks off next Friday, with The Great One's Phoenix Coyotes in the house (SportsNet East with the coverage). Please forgive the mixed sporting metaphors in that sentence, but at this rate, the 08-09 season is going to take roughly eleventeen years to actually play.

Behind Enemy Lines:

Tracy, one of the Hockey Ladies Of Greatness, opens her heart to the internets at True Coyote Love. Be sure to pop in and say hi, won't you? After all, everybody loves puppies. Even Gator.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Oh, goody...

The Captain in for his 50,000KM alignment...

Fish extremely doubtful with The Ouchy Loin...

23 hours away from our home opener with The Defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings...

...who lost their home opener, on Banner Night no less, to, of all teams, the Toronto Maple Marlies.

Nope. I see no way in which this could end badly.

Can I at least have my Bass back, Bryan? Pretty please?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cam Cole: Giant Flags Prevent Canadian Teams From Claiming Cup

Getty Images

It's been fifteen years since a Stanley Cup victory riot (as opposed to run-of-the-mill First Round victory riots) took place in the streets of a Canadian city. In the years since the Habs claimed Big Ugly in '93, five of the six Canadian teams have been to the Final only to come up short every time (I'll leave you to deduce the odd team out. Hint: Try the Google).

How could this be? Was it the skewed odds inherent in the fact that only 6 of the league's 30 teams, or 1 in 5, ply their trade on our soil? Of course not.

Could it be that our teams were handicapped right out of the gate by the twin disparities of a crushing exchange rate (for most of those 15 years) and an unwillingness to lavish giant subsidies on billionaires who wanted to build revenue generating cash cows at taxpayer expense? Revenue, it should be added, that would solely benefit those billionaires? Don't be stupid.

Then perhaps it was those teams not based in Canada absolutely refusing, until it was imposed on them from above, any kind of revenue sharing agreement or salary cap that would lessen their ability to strip mine talent from our teams through ridiculous and predatory free-agent contracts, knowing that any losses they incurred in the process would be, unlike their Canadian counterparts, fully tax deductible? Pshaw.

No, the reason a Canadian team hasn't won a Stanley Cup in 15 years is...we're too obsessive about the game of hockey:

Why don't teams from Canadian cities win more often, when we care so very much? Because we care so very much.

Why don't more big-name free agents want to play in Canadian cities? Because we strangle them with our passion, cover their every twitch and mis-step, examine their private lives, call in to talk shows to discuss ad nauseum every minute happening in their season.

I see. It's all my fault then.

And so, as I, wearing my Jamie Baker #13 jersey, ensconce myself in my Man Room with its walls painted Senators' Red, and settle into my Ottawa Senators Officially Licensed recliner beneath the framed autographed photos of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Mike Fisher, Steve Duchesne and Lance Pitlick, to watch TSN's two hour season preview, I promise I'll stop caring so much that I become the single largest cause of my favourite team's inability to hold a two goal lead.

So thanks for pointing that out Cam. You've saved us all a lot of grief. And I, for one, can't wait to read your corollary story on the (obvious) eventual 08-09 Cup Champs, Nashville Predators.

We Just Care Too Much [Ottawa Citizen]

Come Back Shane! Come Back! SHAAAAAANE!

OTTAWA (SLC) -- The Ottawa Blogger Collective (©TUC), a drunken disturbed loose confederation made up of three of the finest Senators blogs gracing the internet, along with another of lesser repute, announced today that their nascent plan to corner the Cool Stuff Dedicated To Obscure Fourth Liners market will have to wait, as the star of their fall line, 21 year old centre Cody Bass, was demoted to the American Hockey League. One blogger, wishing to remain anonymous remarked, "I hope they call him up soon. That basement full of malaysian seamstresses ain't gonna pay for itself." Rumours that their plans also included a guerrilla campaign to get Bass voted to the All Star Team remain unconfirmed as of this writing.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sens 3, Pens 1: All Your Boards Are Belong To Us!

Oh hells yes! Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! As both of you may recall, some of the more astute (ahem) observers of our little club postulated that in order to be successful, the boys would have to work their asses off. I'm happy to report that Coach Craig has a firm grasp of the obvious and instructed his charges accordingly. The difference is, this time, they actually listened.

Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance:
  • From all accounts, Swedes are a stolid and practical lot. Lord knows the number of allan keys cluttering my tool box can attest to that fact. So the only logical answer as to why they would design a state of the art hockey arena, and make it look like a giant golf ball is...they must be Leaf fans. Thank you! Thank you very much. I'll be here until Thursday. Try the veal.
  • I generally don't pay much attention to what the competition committee comes up with over the summer (unless it has something to do with Brendan Shanahan saying something stupid), but I must compliment them on their tweaking this year. The two minor rule changes regarding guaranteed offensive zone face-offs on delayed penalties and delaying commercial breaks on icings are nothing short of brilliant. The first, because it allows for more creativity when the goalie is pulled, and the second because it will shorten the amount of time Pierre McGuire can yell at us.
The Highs:
  • The name is Dany...but my friends call me "Heater": Two games, three goals (47 to go!) including punching a hole clear through Marc Andre-Fleury on one of the prettiest power play goals you'll ever see. But that's not what has me inappropriately aroused. No, it's this. Late in the 2nd, with the Penguins on the power play in a one goal game, our $45 million superstar threw himself in front of a point shot and got the block. I'll leave you to contemplate the "A" on his jersey while I clean up the mess on my television screen. And ceiling.
  • The Ice Man cometh: Alex Auld is six feet, five inches tall. He moves about the crease with all of the speed and grace of a snow plow. And all he did was hold two of the most dangerous players on one of the most dangerously offensive teams in the league at bay for 59 minutes and 59 seconds. He was calm. He was cool. Our other guy? Um...not so much. I love the smell of goalie controversies in the morning!
  • If you ask nicely, maybe MAF will give you the puck: Congratulations to Jesse Winchester, who capped off a truly stellar debut with his first (regular season) NHL point when he assisted on Verms' breakaway goal in the third. Strong on the puck, got his nose dirtied, started going hard to the net...fantastic job Jesse. No, really. Of course you do realize that had your little blind back pass that started the play gone the other way, you would be feeling the point of my pen in your eye socket, right? So we're agreed. That's just the kind of hypersensitive prick I am.
  • Oh no you di-INT!: If there is one play that perfectly illustrates the fact that we are not the Sens of old, it was Big Rig putting Matt Cooke on his ass after Mr. Cooke (thanks for the power plays, putz!) took exception to The Captain's attempt to teach Max Talbot to keep his head up when coming down the trolley tracks. Contrast that reaction with the aftermath of Mark Bell's hit on Alfie last March (where our boys basically stood around and pushed stuff) or how Steve Downie basically got away with attempted murder, and that's all the rest of the league needs to know.
The Lows:
  • Um...I hear the beer was warm?: Not a damn one. I'll even overlook letting Orpik off the hook for running Roto Ruutu and The Captain from behind with no retaliation (although I will file it away for December 6th). Breathe it in, boys. This won't happen very often.
The Creamy Middle:

Three out of four points in the first two games. Not bad, but considering what happened yesterday, there is a wee caveat. Coach, your first job after that pressurized mettle tube hits the runway tomorrow is to take the tape from this game and make about 50 copies. Give it to everyone on the team, including the water boys, with orders that they are to watch it every night before they go to bed. The tender ministrations of their wives/girlfriends/miscellaneouses (hey, I don't know what the water boys are into) can wait. This it too important. If we're going to go anywhere at all this year, we need 80 more efforts just like it.

Up Next:

Six days hence, Saturday, October 11th, coast to coast on the Cee-Bee-Cee. In case flying halfway to nowhere and eating salted herring weren't enough, our home opener comes against the defending Stanley Cup Champs, heavy favourites to repeat, and general schoolyard bullies, the Detroit Red Wings. Thanks Gary! On the upside, getting them this early in the season can only improve our chances. As was proven last season, games in October mean squat in the greater scheme of things. We can only hope they feel the same way.

Behind Enemy Lines:

Let's give a warm, and above all, humble, welcome to Behind The Jersey, the grand-daddy of all Red Wing blogs. Everything you ever wanted to know about Chris Chelios' addiction to prune juice and the seniors' discounts at the Wallgreen's can be found here. Remember when this game was being hyped as a Cup preview? Yeah...good times.

Pens 4, Sens 3 (OT) – Of Gerbers, Spezzas and The Vortex of Suck

Well, that was…nauseating. From the time the season ended last April, through the hiring of Coach Craig, right up until yesterday, the word “accountability” was uttered by someone in the organization 8,639,419 times. I know. I counted. Behold, the results. One thing I know for certain…Switzerland owes us one hell of an apology.

Pithy Observations of Questionable Importance

  • Anyone else half expecting to see the crowd leave the building right after the national anthems only to have Sens P.A. screamer, Stuntman Stu tell them that contrary to what they may be accustomed to, we sing the songs before the game? Anyone? Just me? Okay then.
  • Nice touch, trotting out Mats Sundin for the ceremonial face-off. It would have been nicer if he had grabbed the microphone and announced that he finally made up his goddamned mind.

The Highs

  • Any chance of changing the draft age to 25?: After a shaky 1st, the Verms, Kelly, Winchester line got stronger as the game went on, with Jesse in particular doing his best to get on my Christmas card list with some solid hits, a few nifty passes and good grunt work along the boards. Not bad for your first game kid. Next step? The net’s over there.

  • Excuse me, Sid. You dropped your Jarkko: Three blocked shots, hard to the net, quality shifts on the PK and the general pain in the assery we’re paying you for. Yep. Keep it up, and you and I will get along just fine.

The Lows

  • Might want to take another look at those matchups, there Craig: Look Coach, I’m all for throwing the kids into the fire (metaphorically speaking) to see how they’ll do. After all, how else are they going to improve, right? But…um…the next time you see your defensive pairing of Lee and Picard getting eaten alive by the other team’s first line, it may be wise to avoid doing it again. And again. And again… Just sayin’.

  • So…Alex. Think you’ll be good to go tomorrow?: Is it your eyes Martin? Is that the problem? Is that why you were ridiculously late reacting to just about everything that came your way? Were your contacts bothering you, maybe? Yeah, that had to be it. Because I can’t possibly think of any other reason why, other than not being ready or, perhaps not having your poor little psyched coddled sufficiently to give you that warm fuzzy glow, you’d let three absolutely, ridiculously BRUTAL goals (including the winner, we should add) blow past you. Yeah. Must be the eyes.

  • We now pause for a special message to Mike Milbury: Zip it, jackass. Ever wonder why you’re sitting in a studio Mike? Spending the first intermission screaming hysterically about how Ottawa needs to pick up Khabibulin is but a small example of that reason. Continuing to do it during the second intermission, Kelly Hrudy’s kind attempts to change the subject notwithstanding, is another. Other small signs would include running a once proud franchise into a hole so deep, they have yet to recover and giving Alexei Yashin ten million dollars. Yes, there is a reason you’re sitting in a studio Mike. You’re a congenital fucking idiot.

  • If he played baseball, he would be a god: Since I figured you wouldn’t have time, what with all the sucking, I kept track for you Jason. You went 5-for-6. Five out of the six blind, dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks, infuriating, across the ice, through the middle, from behind the fucking red line passes you tried today either ended up on the stick of someone in a white jersey or at the opposite end of the rink. Funny, I could have sworn I heard you telling the press just last week about how hard you were going to work at being more responsible with the puck. Good thing for you then, that your ever so clever attempt at a one-on-four in OT which resulted in Kennedy’s winning goal will likely distract the clamouring masses from that little contradiction.

The Creamy Middle:

Hot damn, I love spring! Mild temperatures, lovely foliage, BBQs, and….what? Waddya mean this isn’t April?? Really? This is a new season? Crap.

Up Next:

Same bad time, same bad channel, same funny looking building. Ever have one of those recurring nightmares where no matter how much you do differently, you still end up buck naked at centre ice while 20,000 people point, laugh and throw little packets of mayo at you? Me too! Terrible, isn't it? That's what playing Pittsburgh is starting to feel like.

Behind Enemy Lines:

Please say hello to FrankD over at PensBurgh. During the...unpleasantness...last April, and despite having every reason to gloat and dance over our broken corpses, Frank went out of his way to extend the hand of friendship. True, it may have been more out of pity than anything else, but I still appreciated it. And besides, I'm not sure I'm quite ready to deal with the unholy whordes from The Pensblog.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Your Totally Half-Assed Season Preview! There Will Be Blood

Warning: These are not your father's Senators

During the second of what could best be characterized as the most mediocre four years, academically speaking, in the history of Carleton University (and that's saying something. Dan Akroyd went there!), I succeeded in what all men dream of, but few manage to achieve: I hooked up with one of, if not the hottest Co-Eds on campus.

I was at a frat party during the bacchanal known as Homecoming. She, a bedazzling vision of red hair, perfect breasts and legs long enough to make men alternately weep and go to war, all tucked into a black one piece lycra very mini-dress (this was 1991 after all) happened to be standing in front of me in line to the bathroom. And, as one is wont to do while waiting to void one's bladder, I struck up a converstation.

Now, whether it was my effortless...nay...brilliant...analysis of Homer's The Illiad as an allegory of Man's eternal struggle to return to the safety of His mother's womb (I'd heard she was a Classics major), or the fact that she thought I was retarded and took pity on me (I stammer a lot when I'm nervous), I'll never know. What I do know, is that we soon found ourselves groping and flailing among the coats, text books and scattered detritus of an empty bedroom, ripping at clothing, all panting and spit and tongues and passion. For twenty minutes this went on, each gasp and groan hungrier than the last, until, at the moment, the very instant our tryst was to be consummated...she flopped down on her back, and didn't move. Not a muscle.

Confused, I leapt to my feet, wondering if I should check for a pulse. "What's wrong?", she cooed. "Don't you want to?". Oh, lordy. Yes. Yes I did. And so, after another five minutes of grunts and french kisses and dancing fingers, I once again stood ready to claim her maiden head for Queen and Country. And once again, she dropped as if shot through the neck. "Don't you want me?", she asked from the side of her mouth. "What are you waiting for?" I didn't wait any longer. Afterwards, when a suitably lengthy cuddle period had passed and I was putting my pants back on, she said to me "That was SO nice! Thanks!" Um...yeah. Sure. No problem.

My point? This is exactly how last season felt to Sens fans.

Welcome to Your Totally Half-Assed 2008-2009 Season Preview, where we go line by line through the dressing room, endeavouring to answer that eternal question: Will things be better than last year, or will we, once again, spend six months getting hot and bothered, only to find out we're fucking a dead trout. I'll let you know come April.


1st Line: Heatly, Spezza, Alfredsson

You just couldn't leave well enough alone, could you Coach? After an off-season double dog swearing that you would find some way, any way, to spread the scoring around, you put them back together against a bunch of Hab scrubs in the second to last meaningless exhibition game. Three pretty shifts and a goal later, and they're starting the season as your number one unit. Again. And just like that, Giggles' new found commitment to defence evaporates. Again.

Like Saul, on the road to Damascus, your eyes have been opened. Alright. Fine. That's your prerogative as Head Whistle Blowing Dude. But ye be warned, Coach Craig. Unless the calendar reads "March" and we're more than four points out of a playoff spot, the very second you pull a Paddock and triple shift our 35 year old Captain and Living God because you need to dig yourself out of a 3-1 hole with two minutes to play, I will find you. Just a reminder...things didn't end so well for 'ole Saul either.

2nd Line: Vermette, Fisher, Winchester

Yes. Well. This is a good start isn't it?

Aside from a predeliction for lousy nicknames and...shall we say..."inconsistent" goaltending, the one thing that has plagued the Sens throughout history has been the total and utter absence of a second line potent enough to drive opposing coaches to drink...with the possible exception of Pat Quinn. Now, this may shock one, or maybe even both of you, but this year is no different. I know! Having Verms' speed on the wing should help, and assuming Fish can eventually assuage his owchy loins, my man crush for him should be completely vindicated the first time he drills Jeff Finger (HEE-HEE!! SUCKERS!!) on the forecheck.

No, the key to how effective this line will be, or even how long it stays together, rests entirely in the (presumably) soft hands of our out-of-nowhere 25 year old "rookie", Jesse Winchester. I'd be lying if I knew anything about him beyond his NCAA stats or the instant erection he seems to provoke in The Bryan, so I'm taking a firm and definitive "'s hoping" stance on him. For now. That's just the kind of incisive analysis, you come here for, isn't it?

3rd Line: Kelly, Foligno, Neil

On paper, this should be as solid a checking line as any in the league. For those of you who haven't completely repressed the memory, Little Nicky was our best player against Crysby and Co. last April, although I'd be a happier little camper if he could find a way to put a little more meat on those bones. As for Mr. Kelly, he could very well rate some serious Selke consideration next spring. That is, if he stays healthy. And he'd better. Otherwise we're in deep trouble.

Then there's # 25. Here's what I wrote about Neiler and his fellow third liners a year ago. Um...yeah. Didn't quite work out like that, now did it? But as usual, I'm rather magnanimous in my magnanimity at this time of year, and therefore choose to lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of our late and unlamented "coach" who wouldn't have known how to properly use a third line if you sculpted it in iron and branded it on his forehead. But, Chris...if I may impart but one (har!) piece of advice this season it is this: Don't. Be. STUPID!

4th Line: Ruutu, Bass, Donovan/McAmmond/Schubert

Heavens to Betsy, is this line going to be fun to watch. Boy howdy! Dagnabbit! Egads! And all other manner of out-dated colloquialisms! We're rockin' it Old School, Yo!

First, there's our boy Cody, or as my friend Erin of The Universal Cynic fame, refers to him...The Man, The Legend, The T-Shirt. There is much love for this manchild (watching him pummel the puny Penguins last spring did indeed warm the cockles), and there will be more to follow rather shortly, but for now, just remember this: C-Bass. Roll that over the tongue a bit...C-Bass. There ya go.

Shean and Dean will in all probability be plattooning on the wing for this line, swapping speed for grit and vice-versa as creaky knees, concussed skulls or the situation and opponent warrants. The good news is there will be little in the way of noticeable drop-off between either of them. The bad news? There will be little in the way of noticeable improvement between either of them.

And, with apologies to Vaclav Verada, who spent most nights looking like he wanted to be somewhere else, in Mr. Ruutu, our New Uberpesting Overlord, we finally have a genuine, top-flight, Class-A shit disturber. I can't wait for the first close-up of Guy Carbonneau's mug when that smug, shit eating smirk slowly dissolves into a rictus of pain and anguish as it slowly dawns on him that every Mike Komisarek cheap shot shall be revisited upon his team tenfold.

Take Donovon or McAmmond out and throw Schubie-Doo onto this line with Cody and Roto Ruutu and opposing coaches will be chewing holes through the boards in impotent and ultimately futile rage while their team parades to the penalty box. Yeah, that'll be sweet.

Defensive pairings:

Chris Philips, Anton Volchenkov:

Big Rig and A-Train. The only part of the Senators this season that doesn't worry me in the least. They will do what they do, all will be well, and as a result, I will have nothing to rale against except the paucity of cool nicknames. Seriously. Adding a "y" to everybody's last name just ain't cutting it anymore gentlemen.

Filip Kuba, Jason Smith

A few more years ago than I care to admit, I took a last round flyer on a kid named Filip Kuba in my one and only venture into fantasy league hockey. Everybody around the table, grizzled veterans that they were, laughed their asses off at my expense. Turns out, they were right...and wrong. He was fair to middling during the regular season, but completely disappeared on me in the playoffs. But ten years later, that's okay. Other than being our one faint hope for any kind of back line offence (and our power play "quarterback"...Jesus wept), his real job will be to keep Swiss Pastry from imploding in a cloud of inconsolable self doubt. Pssst...dude. You're 6'5, 240lbs. Think you can use some of what God gave you? Just a thought.

Speaking of cool nicknames...good morning Mr. Smith! I'll admit, I was rather excited about signing Gator (with slight edits to reflect the jettison of some dead weight):
He isn't the fastest defenceman in the league. He won't make the sweet break-out pass to a streaking Vermette. Hell, he may not score a goal for us at all. But by God, if, at the very least, he shows Messrs. Lee, Nycholat Picard and (especially) Meszaros Kuba that weak ass, Redden-esque stick checks around your own crease are no longer acceptable, then he's worth every penny we're paying him.
I still stand by that, and because I'm a lazy bastard, will let it speak for itself.

Brian Lee, Luke Richardson/Alexandre Picard

As you might recall, after his third game in the NHL, The Bryan descended from on high to declare that Brian Lee had "played his last game in the minors". And I saw nothing in his game last year to contradict the GM's enthusiasm, especially as he was our best defenceman in the first round (yet another of the kids. I'm sensing a theme here). That said, Brian, your main job on the third pairing can be summarized thusly: Don't fuck it up. And that goes for the other two, while we're at it.


Martin Gerber, Alex Auld

Sweet Mary and Joseph, but I'm sick to death over these two. If Pastry has somehow found a way to keep himself from drifting halfway to the press box on the initial save, then a return to Darth Gerber form is possible. If not...well there's always Alex Auld, right? He of the four teams in six years? Yeah. Him. But on the upside, and unlike last year, I'd be very surprised if either of them will end up opposite Michael Landsberg's plastic face addressing ugly rumours about doing rails off a stripper's thighs. So there's that.

The Creamy Middle:

For the benefit of the kind souls who've read this far (and bless you if you have), I'll get this out of the way right now: We WILL make the playoffs. Got that? Good. But on the way, there will be much gnashing of teeth, the odd naughty word and, yes, even a blind panic or two. The offence is still largely the same group that finished first overall in Goals For last year. Unfortunately, that had and still has, more to do with the three guys on the top line than anything else. But, the defence (24th overall in Goals Against) is about as different as you could ever find from the collection of jello and silly putty we had patrolling the blue line last year.

So what does it all mean? The Bryan finally has his team. The sting of being pushed around by Anaheim in the Finals two years ago can still be felt, and he's rebuilt the Sens accordingly. This is the toughest Senators team to play against that I can remember. But the margin for error is razor thin. Expect to see a pile of 3-1 and 4-2 games, and unless our boys come with their best effort and highest work ethic every single night, we'll be on the losing end of those scores more often than I'd care to admit at the moment.

The days of blowing the doors off our opponents in the first period and then coasting for forty minutes are long gone gentlemen. And that's absolutley fine by me. I like my hockey a touch more robust, you see. Full speed, all the time. Do that, and we're in pretty decent shape.

So to the rest of the league, I say this...if there is but one thing you can count on this season, it's that every win, every goal, every inch of ice you take from us, will be bought in sweat and blood. You bring the puck. We'll bring the pain.