Thursday, May 11, 2006

ROUND 2 GAME 3 - Ottawa @ Buffalo - 5.10.2006

Miracle on Ice. It’s a miracle this Ottawa team won the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow night’s game is strictly to save our Season Ticket Holders.

The Balance in the Bank:

Final Score: Buffalo wins 3-2 (OT)
Ottawa goals: Spezza (4, pp) banking it in off the boards into an open net on a 5-on-3 – at least someone can score on a half open net; Spezza (5, pp) on a tip shot from the point with 90 seconds left in the third to tie it.
Making Sens(e): Havlat had one or two good shifts…
Not much Sens(e): the Ottawa Senators
It was over when: Dominik Hasek pronounced he wasn’t ready to play and Ray Emery, apparently fresh from a pep talk from Patrick Lalime, skated nervously out to the crease to start the game.
It was definitely over when: The puck dropped to start the game and we left our skill and effort in October. Yes, that’s right, a period of time. How this was a one-goal game is truly astonishing.
Message in a Molson bottle: Did anyone else think that Team Canada looked terribly lost in Torino a few months back? Team Canada would have demolished Ottawa tonight. I kept asking myself why Buffalo hadn’t pulled away from us and had no answer, because it certainly had nothing to do with us slowing them down. Top to bottom, we put in one of our worst postseason performances in modern day history, which is actually much more harsh considering our tendencies to be terrible past mid-April.
1st Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore?gid=2006051002
2nd Courtesy Boxscore: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/boxscore?gameId=260510002

Grab a Timmy’s double-double and listen to what really happened:

Short and Sour
Please excuse me if I don’t have the heart to go into detail on this game because it only makes me angry. Apparently, I’ve forgotten how to deal with losing games and so I pace around aimlessly for a few hours wondering what I should do this weekend, even though these same thoughts go through my mind every spring right around this time. Am I being pessimistic about the whole thing? You bet I am. If anyone in that Ottawa locker room tells you their lame clich├ęs of “why not us” and “we just need to find the net” and “we still expect to win this thing”, then they need to be let go of this team during the summer for being full of it. As a somewhat passionate fan (ahem) and I’m just tired of being lied to by my heroes on the ice. Coach Murray said he thought they played with a lot of effort but just couldn’t put the puck in the net. Murray has been honest with the media and fans all season long until he made this comment. Our best players on paper were our worst players on the ice. Our captain found a way to have even less of an impact. Our careless #1 centre found new ways to turn the puck over. Our shaky starting/backup goalie played like a guy that wants to lose his job to a 41-year old, our “best in the NHL” defensive group played like they figured they’d have a better chance to assist on a Buffalo goal than one of our own. To a man, the Ottawa Senators played an absolutely terrible game tonight. You know the outcome probably won’t be favourable when Bryan Smolinski is your best forward and has been for the entire series.

I don’t want to get into the swan song season summary stuff here. I’ll give them the opportunity, at least once more, to convince their fans, and most importantly their GM and owner, that they really believe that they are playing for something here. And you know what? This isn’t a European thing anymore – only three of our forwards are European (and one is Varada). This isn’t an experience thing – we’ve been in the postseason for the last nine seasons and were a couple of minutes from the Finals in 2002-03. This isn’t a grit thing – we hit bodies left and right. While people will spend the rest of this week and month and summer pointing fingers at who is to blame, I’m going to sit back on a lake somewhere with a bucket of beers until I can figure out exactly what this team is trying to accomplish. When I discover that truth, I will share it with each and every one of them and perhaps sometime in our lives, they’ll enter the postseason on a real mission. Not just the mission that shows up in print in the Ottawa Sun that looks real confident and cozy in September. Not just the mission that has us waving inflatable Cups around the city. But the mission of understanding why we’re there, why we want to be there, and what we will do to stay there as long as possible so that we are the last team to leave the ice. The impact of tonight’s loss and the loss of this series may just be pointing to a bigger issue in this lineup – they’re all just lost out there. Who are they playing for? What are they playing for? Why do they show up at the rink over the summer for conditioning? Why do thousands and thousands of people spend their vacation money just to see them work? Why do people hand them a pen and ask them to sign a piece of paper and wish them luck? Why are they our heroes? Again, what are they doing here? Can a single person in that locker room look me, a fan, in the face and answer that questions?

Man to man, these players need to ask these questions of themselves and each other, coaches and management included. Personally, I idolize John Muckler, I think Roy Mlakar and Eugene Melnyk have done wonders for this organization, and Bryan Murray is a stern coach that gives us an exciting product on the ice. Our captain is said to be one of the most talented players in the league. Our young forwards like Heatley, Spezza, and Havlat, are all so good that they are said to be leaving us at some point because they’ll be worth the league maximum at their current pace. Our defencemen are sought after by 29 teams as Norris-worthy All-Stars. Our starting goaltender was the most accomplished goalie both in the league and in the world. Our role players were seen as the grinders that took this team from great to exceptional. Somewhere in all of these previous statements, something terrible happened. Who wants to take a guess? At this point in time, I have opinions just like everyone else. And you can bet that our owner, Mr. Melnyk has an opinion, too, and his opinions will quickly turn into answers. Billionaires can do that.

Loblaws Express Lane – 10 items or less
1. 23 turnovers. Did we learn one F#$%^ing thing in the first two games? In a word, no.
2. We missed the net on 22 shots, 4 alone from our sharp-shooting captain. If you were about to say that his last shot hit off the post and would have won the game, stop talking and think again if you really want to be praising our captain right now. That’s what I thought. I continue...
3. We blocked 8 Buffalo shots. They blocked 19 Ottawa shots. McKee and Numminen combined for 10 blocked shots alone. Is it possible to acquire intangibles in the off-season?
4. Alfredsson led the team in hits. How’s that for playing our physical style here. Nice work, morons.
5. In all honesty, if you were fortunate enough to NOT watch this game but wanted to know what all the fuss is about, think back to Ottawa games in the Civic Centre when we were a mere expansion team. Remember those days? We played like that, except we have millionaires now and we win Conference titles in the regular season.
6. Hey Zdeno, Shane Hnidy called and he said you were terrible. Ouch. You know it is bas when our worst defencemen ever (Ottawa Silver Seven included, I would guess) just called you out.
7. Hey Spezz Dispenser, Jacques Martin called; he said you’re still a boy. Spezza looked great for the split second he tipped the puck in. He was one of our worst players for the other 59:59.
8. Hey Alfie…nope, too easy and I’m only allowed 10 items. I’ll save a few for the summer.
9. Hey Rayzor – Lalime, Barrasso, and Tugnutt called and said your membership card is in the mail, although they are worried that their club is starting to lose its feeling of exclusivity.
10. Don’t even bother to check this site daily – http://www.northeasthockey.blogspot.com/.

Upcoming Game
Thursday in Buffalo

Saturday in Ottawa
Monday in Buffalo
Wednesday in Ottawa

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