Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Round 4, Game 5: "If you don't wanna play then I'm gettin' the f**k outta here"

So it had to come down to this. As I wait to either prepare 2007 eugooglies or gear up for another rowdy Saturday night, it is not hard to rationally accept the enormous odds against the Senators. Without crunching a single number, I'd say the ducks have a 95% chance of shutting this down tonight and a 99.9999% chance of completing the task on Saturday or Monday. From their meek submission in the third period the other night to the euphoria building among the 40 years of failure cult, you can just feel death closing its grip (lots of python references on yesterday's drive home show).

But before the curtain of darkness closes and the Sens Army falls to sleep with the dulcet tones of John Rodenburg and the Team's perennial season-ending telethon in their ear, let's reflect once more on what's gone missing this series. Items in the toolbox that, if miraculously recovered this late in the contest, would - if not outright win them the series - certainly validate what has been a very late Novemberish finals appearance. Note there will be no specific keys to victory tonight, as they have been pretty much roundly ignored in Games 1 through 4 (could the keys perhaps be locked inside Emery's head, with no chance for retrieval?).

To turn Earl's question around, the ducks have unquestionably been the better team in every corner of the ice (credit where it's due, yadayada), but how much of this is due to the Eastern Conference Champs acting like chumps? While the ducks are all in a row (those that aren't injured or suspended), there are far too many Ottawa passengers putting in frustratingly mediocre performances through four games. To name just a few:

1. Spezza and Heatley: Soft, slow, afraid to take hits to make plays and generally look like boys playing men. As Murray said "You keep waiting and hoping that they get back to moving their feet...". Waiting and waiting and waiting. If they do show up it's going to be 240 minutes too late. Rumour is they'll be split apart for tonight, which is not a terribly encouraging sign. At the very least, their defensive liabilities will be spread across two or three lines rather than concentrated on one.

2. Alfredsson: Give the Toronto Sports Network credit for making his goofball shot on Niedermeyer out to be the Crime Of The Century (rich coming from the organization that hired - and then dropped in embarrassment - a barely intelligible simian whose proudest professional moment came from beating on a doughy, alcohol-soaked slob that tumbled into his lap), but if Alfie can back it up with a career defining performance tonight (that's exactly what it'll have to be) they'll have to go back to the tedium of covering whatever exactly it is that the Jays are doing right now.

3. Redden: Regardless of how the season ends, if this guy doesn't go in for some sort of major surgery (or rehab) then I don't know what in the world has gone wrong with one of the Sens longest serving and reliable defensemen.

4. Ray Emery: Capable of both a wicked glove save and a Hardy Astrom special minutes apart, on balance he has been perfectly average. What's most disconcerting is that when he does come to play (G2), the team is not responding.

5. Overall: I haven't seen 60 minutes of effort in weeks now. The occasional 10 minute burst here and there, but none of the energy has carried over from one period to the next.

That right there is the starting point from which the Sens will have to mount a comeback, if at all. Knowing the odds, I need any sign that the Sens are prepared to play hard for the remaining 180 minutes of this series. Is there a 2007 edition of Fernando Pisani in that locker room? If I see a spark, I'm willing to make a modified Pascal's Wager. I realize the probability of the Sens coming back is negligibly low, however, the reward of sticking with your team through a monumental comeback is infinite. It is relatively costless to make the choice of either believing or stepping down off the bandwagon, however, eternal damnation may await you if you decide to walk away now:

"since we stand to gain eternity, and thus infinity, the wise and safe choice is to live as though [the Senator's Stanley Cup destiny] does exist. If we are right, we gain everything, and lose nothing. If we are wrong, we lose nothing and gain nothing. Therefore, based on simple mathematics, only the fool would choose to live a [quitters] life. Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have nothing to lose. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that [the Sens are coming back all the way]"

2-1 Sens (OT). Spezza, Fisher. Sens in 7. Fuck You Anaheim.

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