Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fun With Pictures

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Separated at birth? Quack, Quack, Quack Mr. Ducksworth

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
A to-the-point review of Game 2. The ice may be crappy for both sides but it sure looked tilted towards the sens' end. Yes, it's the old logo but the Ducks sure look Mighty so far.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Zanstorm is worried for Alfredsson. If found please return to Scotiabank Place. I assume that Heatley and Spezza are on two other milk cartons.

Fitting

No sign of the sun today here in Ottawa.

Silver linings? Well, we can see that only 3 teams of 40 have come from behind 2 games to win the series. Others recently have come close...

Edmonton returned home down 2 last year - losing game 2 5-0 in the process - and ended up taking it to 7 games.

These Ducks lost both on the road in 2003 but won the next two back home. The home team won every game in that series.

It's A Taunting Anthropomorphic Numeral!


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Two down and two to go! Go Ducks Go!

Playoff Memories XVII: Brian Wilson Had Fewer Flashbacks

I can't be the only one that thought that the winning goal last night had more than a passing resemblance to last year's backbreaking goal right? Alfredsson reprised his role as the weak stick checker while Corvo added his interpretation of Wade Redden's ineptness. Turning his back on the play AND screening Ray Emery was an inspired move.

In the shortest time travelled by a flashback, here is last night's winner.

Time out

You're in our crib now.

The saying is that you aren't done until you lose at home. Well, Saturday night's the night for fighting and we'll see if the our Sens are going to do what we know they can do.

I may have the rose coloured glasses on but I don't think the Ducks outplayed the Sens tonight. The shots were uneven but I don't think they reflect the scoring chances.

Leaf fans are happy. The pathetic bunch they are see victory in the Sens losing a couple games in a final they've never seen their team play in. Bring it on. I see a couple home wins coming myself and my Game 6 Stanley Cup final tickets allowing me to experience something no Leaf fan has experienced since before I was born.

Sober Update:
Okay. I should have said 'I may have the rose coloured glasses on but I don't think the Ducks outplayed the Sens that badly tonight.'
No doubt the Ducks were the better team out there but I totally disagree with a conclusion like this:
Here's the reality: If Ottawa loses the Stanley Cup by continuing to play in such a fashion, all their work in this postseason will have been for naught. The choker label will return with a vengeance, and the fans of Ottawa will not tolerate this kind of regression so late in the season. I'll give The Driver the parting shot:
"If you're going to lose, lose like men. Don't puss out and jerk with people, because if you were going to pull this garbage, why did you even bother with the effort to get this far in the first place?"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Round 4, Game 2: The Ducks Are Who We Thought They Were

[Citizen pic]

The question is are we going to the let them get away with a cup?

Will another Muppet be revealed or will a taunting anthropomorphic numeral instead grace the top post?

The outcome will of course depend on tonight's keys to victory:


1. I thought blaming the ice was weak form, considering it didn't appear to me to play a huge factor in the outcome of the game. It certainly wasn't anywhere near as bad as the last afternoon game in Buffalo. Most of those giveaways and missed hits would have occurred regardless of whether they were playing on a polished Rexall sheet or slush covered asphalt. If the pucks are going to be wobbling, Mr. Corvo sure knows how to use that to his advantage and I think JSG may be particularly susceptible to a double OT knuckler from the point (yes, I'm aware of his playoff overtime record).

2. Get all your ducks in a row. If Project Norris and the Pahlssons want to take time away from Teemu and the kids (is Kunitz on his way back?) more power to them. It's only a matter of time before the top line either punches through or Fisher/Schaefer/Comrie steps in and lights the lamp (they were the only line going in G1, in my opinion).

3. The Sens were a step or ten behind in getting to pucks, busting into the ducks zone and lining up checks. If three days additional layoff, coupled with the wonderment of the first ever Stanley Cup final against a team they haven't seen in ages counts as an excuse, consider it a one-time only validation.

4. Get a win tonight and I can almost guarantee a follow up performance in front of an absolutely ballistic Saturday night crowd. They have to be hungry to bring a split back to YOW.

5. It's probably just off-day bluster (actually Murray's been claiming a raw deal throughout most of the season), but I'm not sure of the wisdom of calling out the refs and drawing attention to missed obstruction calls. If you're serious about gearing up to be considerably more aggressive in both ends tonight, I think a laissez-faire approach is more what you want. Whining about officiating is so Toronto's gimmick.

6. I wish I had a surefire way of keeping Redzaros off the ice for as long as possible, however, maybe having them pinch in while one of the grind lines goes to work wouldn't be a bad option. Better to trade off the liability of having them in deep against their offensive upside than keeping them immobile and vulnerable in their own end.

4-1 Sens - KASH (x2), The Fish, Saprykin (he's back!). Sens in 6.

Open thread to discuss bathroom fixtures, alternative counterpledge wording, the administration of public floggings for convicted turncoats and tired Denny Green resets.

Politicians Hate Power and Scotiabank Hates Toronto

Update: Join the Anti-Scotia Pledge Facebook group here.

Glove tap to Mirtle for finding an article that solidifies my personal belief that becoming a politician involves some sort of process in which the brain is removed. Mayor David Miller, besieged on all sides by a greedy council, the risk of bankruptcy, and increasingly upset natives has decided to seal his political fate by being the first to sign a pledge to support the sens in order to bring the Cup back to Canada.

To spread the word to Torontonians, Scotiabank will be distributing 50,000 copies of the pledge on Thursday May 31st from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at Union Station and the intersection of Yonge and Bloor.
Here is the draft of the pledge:

The Scotia Pledge

I, __________ devoted fan of the ____________________________ solemly (sic, idiots!) swear to set aside team rivalries for the duration of the season and pledge my support to the remaining Canadian team. I hereby dedicate my hockey-loving soul to their quest to bring the glory home to the place where hockey was born, where the game was perfected, where its spirit runs deepest, and where the world's greatest trophy belongs.

To make the pledge, visit http://www.senspledge.com/ (Pledge goes live Thursday May 31st at 5 a.m.)

I encourage everyone that, like me, walks to Union Station to make their morning commute to heckle the idiots behind this jingoistic and shortsighted pledge. Failing the intestinal fortitude to yell at total strangers without having paid a ticket to do so I suggest accepting multiple copies of the pledge and throwing them in the garbage.

Not to belabour a point but the Cup lives in Canada ALL-YEAR ROUND. Not just that, it's in freaking Toronto, ACROSS THE STREET FROM UNION STATION! Seriously, it's one team made up of mostly Canadians playing against another team of mostly Canadians. Unless it's an INTERNATIONAL tournament sports are tribal. Stop trying to change that. I blame political correctness for this travesty of a pledge drive.

Freakin' In

From Ice Chips.

GO SENS!

The Team1200's finals song.

Why The sens Lost Game 1

Maybe if the Pizza Line had concentrated on not being run over and making blind back passes (Spezzzzza!) instead of making prank calls on the bench they would not have been dominated by the Pahlsson-Niedermayer-Moen trio (Moen for PM!). I have an idea for a return phone call from Mats but it depends on how the sens lose the series.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Countdowns are Fun!


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Three more losses and you've lost the Cup.

Totally unexpected!

A mail sent to my Blackberry within minutes of the final whistle:

Sent: May 28, 2007 10:50PM
Subject: moen for PM!

choke, choke, choke,...


Yes, he's a Leaf fan.

Playoff Memories XVI: Those Old Time Blues

Well that was the first time the sens had faced a team that hit back and could forecheck and it caused all sorts of trouble especially for the pairing of Redden and Meszaros who looked more regular than post season last night. Emery made the saves when needed (almost always) but looked shaky while trying to corral a few rebounds. And in the biggest surprise of the night (not really) a line with three checkers (Pittsburgh had none, the Devils two got worked, and the Sabres only play offence) was able to physically dominate the Pizza Line who did themselves no favours with repeated turnovers. In short, it was the first glimpse of the playoff sens that Leaf fans have come to know, love, and mock since this game (our featured flashback) against the slugs last year.

Similarities that you'll notice, and some that you will probably remember, are the two sens goals came on the powerplay while 5 on 5 they created few chances. The slugs also outhit, outhustled, and outworked the sens. Cliches perhaps but true nonetheless. Sit back and enjoy a scene that will hopefully repeat itself three more times and thereby deliver us all from evil.

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's the return of Sad Muckler!

Well the score doesn't really reflect how badly the Sens were worked over tonight. Redden and Meszaros were particularly appalling and absolutely no match for the ducks along the boards.

KASH turned the puck over in every corner of the rink (5 giveaways) and Alfie probably had his dopiest game of the playoffs. Good sequence at the end to almost tie it, but they honestly had no business staying in the game as long as they did. Everyone was a just a step behind - we still haven't really seen the Sens skate yet, and if they can turn up the speed and turn down the softness I think they can still sneak out of Anaheim with a split.

So the line on the ducks was mostly correct - a big, bruising team that takes a lot of penalties and has an eminently beatable goalie. This was the first time I've gotten an honest look at them in years, and I must say they look about five inches taller to a man with those black unis.

UPDATE: You can sure hear the neophyte fan coming through loud and clear on the Team post-game show. They lose one game and you want to break Alfie off that top line? The perils of big bandwagonism I guess.

Relax - they'll hit the stationary bikes, have a look at the tape and come out flying in G2. Anyone else find the ducks celebrating a little heavily considering they were down by a goal for 2/3rds of that game?

Round 4, Game 1: Shake out the cobwebs

The wait has been so long that the Senators have begun invading my sleep. On Friday night, I dreamed I arrived home from work to find the Sens had lost Game 1 in quadruple overtime. On Saturday night, I dreamed my parents bought me Game 5 Stanley Cup tickets for my birthday. Finally, last night I dreamed of watching one of the big games on the shell of an enormous home entertainment system. In the center of what should have been the picture was my tiny fireplace-mounted flat screen, roller painted in red, black and gold (amateur psychologists are welcome to take a crack at that dream analysis).

In some ways, I wish the north-south, east-west contrast could be highlighted by playing the series in mid-January. Bring the SoCal representatives to the frozen tundra of Scotiabank Place (or Frank Clair perhaps?), complete w/ mobs of toque and scarf-wrapped roman centurions huddling around flaming trash cans, using only the radiant heat and whiskey to stave off frostbite. Alas, the Ottawa weather is ramping up to be hotter and sweater than Anaheim as the series wears on.

I'm pretty much sick to death of reading finals previews - it's like that point on a really long road trip where you've worn out your appetite for restaurant food despite your excitement at reaching a destination - and as my hands are already starting to shake with anticipation, here are some quick notes and keys to victory:

1. If my intuition regarding the layoff is correct, we could be in for a rather unpolished start to the series. I think we could see up to ten goals tonight as the teams initially feel each other out. A raft of penalties, odd man rushes and giveaways will provide plenty of scoring chances at both ends of the ice, inflating GAA's and diluting save percentages accordingly. Games 2 and on things will settle down as fans and coaching staff get to know (and hate) their opponents. I must say, I'll be highly disappointed if Brian Burke isn't the first to lob a juicy smack bomb over the fence ("Teemu Selanne is not Finnish for hook me and hold me").

2. King Alfie, Spezza and Heatley along with the more vulnerable defensive pairing of Corvo and Preissing will soak up all the prime ice time, keeping Ketchup and the kids away from the puck without having to lay a single body check. Physically, I'm wondering whether the urge to come out and label one of the Ottawa waterbugs is actually going to backfire. Schaefer and Fisher (and yes, even a rested up Comrie) are more than willing to throw their weight around and grind things out along the boards - they're actually far more effective when placed in that kind of a situation. There's a big hitter on every line, with Neil and Schubert on the third and fourth, respectively. If anything, bringing more contact into the game is exactly what's needed to keep the Sens sharp and possibly stave off the scenario described in point 1 above.

3. Regardless of the outcome of Game 1, be prepared for the deluge of historical analogies: "The Game 1 winner goes on to win the cup 80% of the time", "Ottawa has never been down in a series", "The West has been the superior conference all year long and it's showing", etc. The Ottawa Senators have found a way to debunk popular myths and overcome previously established expectations in every single round of these 2007 playoffs. They vanquished the bogeyman of Gary Roberts in Round 1, including dropping a tight loss in Game 2 before putting a complete and unprecedented stranglehold on the series. They made world-beater Martin Brodeur and one of the league's top checking lines look pretty average in Round 2, including overcoming a Langenbrunner OT winner and some questionable late period goals. In Round 3, they passed the 2-0 and 3-0 series lead milestones against the sputtering Beasts of the East, coming up with two of the most clutch goals the franchise has ever witnessed in the process. Never underestimate what Senators 2.0 can overcome when the need presents itself.

5-4 Sens (Fisher x2, Neil, Heatley, Redden). Sens in Six.

Comments are open for the BoO's first ever Stanley Cup game thread.

No More Sleeps!

Finally, after a ridiculously long layoff after the end of the conference finals, the Stanley Cup final begins tonight. The tension has reached a boiling point (exhibit A: Jay's inaugural use of a post label to implore the dropping of the G-D puck) in both Ottawa (good anticipation) and Toronto (bad anticipation).

Tom and Greg at AOL's FanHouse have 5 reasons why the Ducks or senators will win the Cup. In my mind (and most people's as well), the series comes down to this: there are only about 10 minutes in any given game when either Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer are not on the ice. That is the senators window of opportunity. If they can exploit that through either getting the Pizza Line out there or having one of the other 3 lines produce points then they will probably win the cup and ruin hockey for at least one major metropolitan area.

As well as the senators have played the top line has yet to face a defence like the Ducks. Sure the bottom 3 are not exactly world-beaters but the top end talent is the first group good enough to shut down the top line. Don't even try arguing that Buffalo's defence was anywhere near as good as this D. The Sabres decided to go with 6 # 3/4 defencemen and it didn't work out. The Ducks have 3 # 1s patrolling the blueline and the difference in the series will come down to whether the top line can produce and what the other lines can pick up. As good as the top line has been I don't see them racking up the points against Pronger. I hope he takes the Cup back to Edmonton.

Update: The End Is Nigh!

Flying into ..... Toronto?

Work has taken me to Toronto for the next two days. Think I'll see any signs of Sens fever there or is it all Toronto FC?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why are we not watching hockey tonight?

Enough already.
The start of the final was delayed because the Honda Center was booked for three days to accommodate the Champions on Ice show.

I'm tempted to re-enact my favourite scene from Ronin not involving a car chase.

Remember the cursed Dora layover? After a week off in 2006, Ottawa hosted Buffalo to a 13 goal sloppy joe before ceding Scotiabank ice to Dora and friends for another three days. Beware of those scheduling-related karma maladjustments.

UPDATE:
Yes, we are this painfully starved for actual hockey.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Randy's Game Plan

Knob Hockey (via Mirtle) have a few great videos up already (check out YouTube for the videos from last year's playoffs) but they are back with more. Here is one that leaks the Ducks' gameplan. Hint: Cover Niedermayer.

I am Ray #$*%$&#*$ Emery Bitch!

JS Giguere is not looking forward to any rough stuff against the senators.

Daniel and Jason Sitting in a Tree...

Some videos as we head out for the last weekend before the battle of battles commences. Here is one of Alfie expressing his...umm...feelings for Jason Spezza and his ability to juggle many balls.

Better Know An Enemy - The Anaheim Ducks

Don was a little misleading when he said that Earl was holding the fort for Anaheim blogs against an onslaught of sens sites. In fact, I did a little research (I asked Earl) and found that there are some good sites that feature the Ducks. Here are the top 5 sites (or as Earl called them, the 5 Ducks' sites) and a message board which is my special gift to THM and DC so that they don't run out of people to flame. The sites can be found under the enemy tag which makes them my friends.

Battle of California Obviously, everyone knows our fellow Battle Brethren at the BoC. He posted a point-counterpoint series with Ben from sens army that is worth a read. Earl is great with photoshop and cartoons as well as posting drunk (the drinky posts) and he had 10 questions to Ben's 9 so +1 to the Ducks before the series even starts.

Girl with a Puck Finny literally carries a puck with her all of the time but I know for a fact that she was missing it at a crucial time! She aspires to be a writer so her stuff is among the more literate in the underground. She also works over at the HLOG so she knows her stuff.

Anaheim Duck Fan This one is another lady from the stable at the HLOG. Her site is new to me but it has slideshows and pictures which is nice for the visually oriented. Not sure about any theme or specialties but maybe she'll stop by and enlighten us.

Duck's Blog THIS is the site that I hope will carry the torch of trash talking. Granted Tom couldn't do much with what his team was giving him I hope that the Ducks and sens fans give Daniel lots of material. Here's an excerpt to inspire everyone:
We have too many days now to sit at our desks or on the couch and bitch at each other about how kick ass our respective teams are and how much the other team
sucks. I can not wait to hear the jokes about Disney, cartoons, video games, the movies and the market that the Ducks play in. We already know that California is not a hockey market, we don’t give a damn, that, along with the Coach Bombay jokes are over ten years old. I fell like I am in junior high hearing ‘Yo Momma’ jokes, oh snaps, heard that one before. Believe this though, the series won't even be close. Ray Emery isn’t half of any of the three goalies the Ducks just roasted.
Woo-hooo!!! RELEASE THE HOUNDS! I think I just heard THM, DC, and Gee rub their hands in glee. For the record, I completely disagree, Yo Momma jokes are still relevant.

On The Pond This is the Most Valuable Network's contribution to the blogosphere and I get the feeling it's meant to be professional (although somehow Allard still haunts the sens). Well written but lacking in heat. Of course there is a good way to fix that ;)

Dan Wood - OC Register This one is actually professional. Dan Wood writes for the Orange County Register so any questions about Marissa, Seth, Ryan, and the rest of the Cohens and friends should be directed here. Bet Daniel didn't anticipate OC jokes!

All Ducks This one is included especially for the flamers (see what I did there ;)) that need an endless stream of targets. If you run through those 40 fans too quickly there are another 95 here on the official site.

All jokes aside, please Ducks, for the love of all that is good, beat the sens. I don't like the heat and I don't want to have to move to India.

Another participant?

I guess we should discuss whether we'd like to see a third team (Waterloo Nationals?, Ontario Predators?) added to our Battle here.

Is there a downside?

Belly vs Snoop





vs







Our guy has, what, about 100 lbs on him? No contest.
Love the new song.

Duck Blogs

I've replaced all of the Sabres blogs on the sidebar with all of the Duck blogs. Looks like Earl has a monopoly going on there in Anaheim.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rally 'round the team

Ben from Sens Army Blog was at the rally today.

Giveaways

One of the more prominent playoff stats that stuck out was giveaways:
Anaheim Ottawa
Forwards 126 62
Defence 71 45
Total 197 107

Icetime

I've been looking at some of the stats of the two teams in the playoffs. Here's a plot of their icetime distribution.


That darn work/life balance

So, I actually got on hold this morning for tickets. I had to pass the phone over to a co-worker to buy the tickets as I was late for a design review. I thought I had explained everything - I wanted a pair of standing rm tickets for Game 4.

I find out he got the tickets (after 30 minutes on hold - and only non-alcohol left - standing room no-alcohol??) but I actually failed to mention the Game 4 part - so he bought Game 3. Then, it turns out they are home game 3 - Game 6 if req'd. I could go to it but the Monday, June 4th game is best for me. (I've got a post up on Craigslist to swap them for Game 4.)

4 other friends hammering on the re-dial button failed to get through.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Playoff prediction contest

My domination continues. After three rounds, I'm in first followed by Adam and Indrew. I'm sticking with the pattern. Sens in 5. (Difference is multiplied by 2 for this round)

Full results....


Round 3
Rank Name Det Ana Buf Ott
Actual 2 4 1 4
1 Don 2 4 1 4 0
2 Pav 2 4 1 4 0
3 Adam 2 4 2 4 1.75
4 Duff 2 4 2 4 1.75
5 Matt 2 4 2 4 1.75
6 Notch 2 4 2 4 1.75
7 THM 2 4 2 4 1.75
8 Conrad 3 4 0 4 3.5
9 LMN 2 4 3 4 3.5
10 Gareth 4 3 1 4 5.25
11 GeeIWonder 4 3 1 4 5.25
12 Jay 1 4 3 4 5.25
13 PPP 1 4 3 4 5.25
14 Chemmy 2 4 4 3 7
15 Indrew 4 3 0 4 7
16 symbiont1 4 3 2 4 7
17 DC in YOW 4 2 2 4 8.75
18 David Johnson 4 3 4 2 14
19 jaredoflondon 4 3 4 2 14
20 The Muppet 4 3 4 2 14
Total picks 8 13 4 17


After 3 rounds - only those who have participated every round are included:
1 Don 14
2 Adam 18.25
3 Indrew 22.5
4 DC in YOW 23.25
5 Matt 25.25
6 Notch 26.75
7 Conrad 29.5
8 LMN 32
9 Duff 32.75
10 The Muppet 37.5
11 jaredoflondon 39
12 THM 39.75
13 PPP 40.25
14 Chemmy 41
15 GeeIWonder 41.25
16 David Johnson 46.5



Drop those pom-poms, let's get scouting

[via Sens photo gallery]

Questions churning through my brain at this hour:

Is JSG the best goaltender they've run up against yet in the playoffs?

Can Pronger / O'Donnell or Beauchemin / Niedermeyer shut down Heatley / Spezza / Alfredsson? Could Selke Sammy P. do it all himself?

Which Ottawa defensive pairing is going to be under the most pressure this series, if any?

Will Ottawa's splendid road special teams help take the edge off the ducks home ice?

Which ducks line scares you the most - McDonald/Selanne or Penner/Getzlaf/Perry?

Can Bryan Murray outcoach Randy Carlyle?

Will Todd Marchant pull a clutch goal or two out of his bag of tricks?

Will the Sens remember how to skate after more than a week off? Does anyone even remember the last time the Sens played the Ducks in the regular season?[*]

Will the entire series degenerate into displays of non-fatal slapstick violence, ingenious escapes from danger, wild vehicular stunts and the rectification of injustices suffered by those with no formal route of appeal?

Is the West Coast the best coast? Are you ready for some California Love? Is 2Pac really dead?

We need answers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More pics

Some great ones on the Sens website - click on the Game 5 pic.

Schedule released

2007 STANLEY CUP FINAL SCHEDULE
(all start times 8 p.m., ET)

Game 1 Monday, May 28
Game 2 Wednesday, May 30
Game 3 Saturday, June 2 in Ottawa
Game 4 Monday, June 4 in Ottawa
*Game 5 Wednesday, June 6
*Game 6 Saturday, June 9 in Ottawa
*Game 7 Monday, June 11

Finals pricing

Currently, only tickets tied to a season/half-season purchase are for sale.


A Favour...

To Whom It May Concern In Heaven (or whatever any reader believes in),

Amid the celebrations Saturday (Wrath of Alfie indeed) one of Ottawa's biggest fans lost his battle with cancer.
"Hey, buddy, the Senators game is on, do you want to go down and play?" she asked. "He bolted out of bed -- it's the most movement he's had in days." Surrounded by his friends and family, Elgin watched most of the game, but as his oxygen levels began to drop dangerously low, his parents knew his time was short. Hamish and Victoria had everyone leave the room while they spent their final few moments with their son. "His favourite song is O Canada, so we were singing it to him as he took his last few breaths," said Victoria.
Thanks to Duff for bringing the story to everyone's attention. Whatever way the finals go at least Elgin got to see his team qualify for the final and one can only assume that he left with a smile on his face. Everyone sends the Frasers their heartfelt condolences as anyone that has had cancer affect their family knows that its reach extends beyond the afflicted. Please watch over Elgin as he is shepherded to a better place.

Update: Sherry has a really great picture and write up as well.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Still in a state of shock

It's a good shock, mind you. I spent most of Sunday painfully processing half a 40 of CC through my system while savouring the assorted news items and video highlights. It seems the Senators have come of age at approximately the time as my body's ability to absorb alcohol. To steal The Captain's words, it was surreal.

I thought Glen Healy made a great point when he noted how that retarded paddle save on Spezza in OT would normally have been interpreted as a sign that this just wasn't going to be their night. Senators 2.0, however, wouldn't need to make use of any of the available excuses on hand and would find a way to overcome what looked to be a certain trip back to Ottawa for Game 6. Miller's looking like the hero? No problem. Beating the Sabres in three straight games? No problem. Taking three home games? Dude, it's the new Sens! Of course, The Goal completed the perfect mirror image of the 2005-2006 season, with Alfredsson receiving the puck from a backchecking [!] Dany Heatley, working his way through three (actually it was four - Campbell, Pominville, Numminen and Hecht were all hovering around him in a pretty tight diamond formation) Sabres to snap one far side by an absolutely stunned Ryan Miller. That highlight will surely nag at their subconscious this summer the way Pominville's tormented last year's Senators. If it's any consolation, just look at what cutting a few coveted free agents loose can do for your team in the off season.

Best roundup of pics from the Facebook Group - Elgin Street: The Sens Mile, including a few appearances by the Sensquatch. Youtube has the slo-mo entourage from the airport, with a fairly meticulous rundown of who's rolling in what.

Fun question of the day: Would a dog tired and banged up Gary Roberts have been sat out for Patrick Eaves the other night?

Bring on the Ducks or the Wings.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Woo-hoo!


The Citizen has a photo gallery up of some of the action around town.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Even the Grouch is on the wagon now!


4 MORE WINS TO GO!
Jay wrote way back when we were at 10 wins to go; "When I see Oscar tha G. make an appearance, I'll assume we're in the clear..."
In the clear indeed.
Wow.

You can Sens victory

Waking up to the best morning of the year here in beautiful Ottawa, expecting an excellent afternoon of mid 20s sun, and sweeping off the deck in anticipation of a big crowd of kids and neighbours watching the game on the TV that'll be set up in a few hours, I can feel victory.
I'm not such a fool to guarantee that we'll wrap this up this afternoon. The Sabres have the ability to play better though I don't expect it. I do expect Miller though to continue his great play.
The game will most likely turn on special teams again and those nasty turnovers. I'm confident the Sens will improve from Game 4 in both areas.
Not sure if this will turn into the game thread - I'm expecting to read the Godfather's keys to victory still - but if it does...

GO SENS!!!

JAYUPDATE:

I hope someone woke up Emery. It's 9:30 AM here on the west coast and I'm just rolling out of bed and making the blog rounds. Damn Americans and their 2:00 hockey games. I think the only key to this afternoon's game is to play the first minute and the last minute with absolute authority. Everything else, the deep puck pressure, the shot blocking, the face offs and the penalty killing will be as reliable as it has been throughout the post season. Emery will rebound (mentally as in sharpness, not physically as in pucks bouncing off his pads). Admittedly, it will be difficult for some of the guys to resist taking their favourite momentum killing penalty for at least the next round: Heatley, watch your toothpick; Schubert, Neil and Corvo with the trips and assorted obstruction.

On a festivities note: This is what happens when you try to "plan" a playoff celebration. Bureaucracy gets involved and before you know it the life is snuffed right out of it.
Just let it happen, Sens fans. I know you people can party, despite the geographic obstructions in your way. It's like riding a bike, before you know it you're up and partying without any need to take cues from the official cheerleading squad.

Finally, an inspirational quote for the "Sabres in 7" bandwagon, which has experienced explosive growth in ridership since Wednesday night:

The [-] still don't have any margin for error. But if they get a win tonight, pressure on the [-] to close out the series at home Monday will be massive.

"Look, there's pressure on both sides," said [-]. "But we know what type of team we are and I think [-] knows what type of team we are. I'm sure they're expecting that we're going to come out even harder (tonight) than we did in (Game 4). That's when we play our best hockey, when we dictate the play."

When he looks around the [-] dressing room, [-] sees a group he believes can find a way out of this mess.

"I know a lot has been said about the fact that only two teams in (NHL) history have come back from being down 3-0," said [-]. "It has been done before and I feel like this team could be one that could do it again.

"No, it's not going to be easy. We're going to have to battle hard. I'm sure a little doubt slipped into the [-] with the way we played. I'm quite certain that we got their attention and I know we're going to be excited about playing at home. We just have to keep pushing."

Yep. It was John Muckler, talking up the Senators chances in Game 5 of the 2006 Eastern Semi-final. We all know what happened next.

Nighty-nite, slugnation.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Everyone should be on Elgin

Kelley with a nice post here. If you hate the haters does that make you a hater too?

Drury Drinks 40s of Whiskey In One Gulp

From Heather B. via Tom L via John Belushi:

That is a great video and I would guess it sums up the speech the skipper gave prior to game 4 in order to inspire the troops to avoid a sweep. Oh, and apparently Emery is kind of kinky (see the end of the video). Does anyone else think that there is now a legion of sabres fans going 'The Germans attacked Pearl Harbor too?!?!?!'

Playoff Memories XV: The Longest Journey Starts With One Step

Well, the coronation was postponed as the slugs put together a much better effort (but from all accounts still weren't that good) and an Emery howler allowed them to return to their adoring fans for at least one more game. Jay had asked why I didn't post any 2004 ALCS videos and it came down to a case of timing. Sure, the sens could wrap it up after losing a tight game (just like the Yankees thought that they could) but like those Yankees they have to play the fifth game in unfriendly confines.

Here's a fan's view of the hit that started the irresistable surge of history. The 3rd goal on Emery was not as glamourous but could it be just as memorable? Who knows.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sens fans in Toronto

Vance's column on Leaf Nation cheering for the Sens includes this tip:
A friend of mine, Rob Brodie, who is a writer for the Ottawa Sun, sent me a funny e-mail he received from Brent Taylor -- a reader with word on where you can go to safely cheer for Ottawa in Toronto.
Brent, a transplanted Senators die-hard said, "Grace O'Malley's (Toronto) -- I believe it's the same owners as Ottawa East location. It's nice -- all Sens fans on game night. I call it the Ottawa Embassy -- except for the fact that it's three blocks from the CN Tower. You would swear you were in Nepean!"
So for those who'd like to cheer on Canada's team with no booing, you have your spot -- no questions asked.

Couple links

Sigh, Cox talks about ghosts. Erin's right - 'This team can't win (with the media, that is).'

Scapegoat - AQG! Cutting your hair! What were you thinking!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How dare you?!!

You stop the Sesame St countdown? You prevent Elgin from filling up on a Wednesday night? You make us wait until Saturday - an AFTERNOON game? Insolent slugs!

Didn't you get the memo? This was supposed to be a coronation!

Round 3, Game 4: A Must Win?



[above: they even squeezed a meth panic story into the top corner - another one clears the fences, Sun!]

As tempting as it is to be scouting Anaheim / Detroit weaknesses, we are now dealing with a wounded animal that must be put down as quickly as possible. If anything, Murray has got to be saying something along the lines of: "Boys, do you really want to head back to Buffalo tomorrow night?". Hell, I don't think the Sabres even want to go back there, so let's not prolong either team's discomfort any further.

The past two games have been "must wins" for the Buffalo Sabres, and with the exception of the opening and closing regulation minutes of Game 2, there has been precious little victories for the team to build on. With that in mind, here are tonight's keys to victory:


1. Stay out of the box. Although whinerliners were perplexed as to why Ottawa fan reacts negatively when the Sabres get the man advantage, at some point it's just a matter of sheer stupid luck. A power play goal would be one of those precious victories the Sabres are looking for.

2. Given the way Miller has played this series, Ray Emery is going to have to meet or exceed that performance. He hasn't been called on to bail out the team yet (although he certainly hasn't let in any back breakers), but it surely would give the team a big surge forward going into the final if they knew he could steal a game when forced to.

3. Continue to hurry Buffalo's D when they have the puck. The way Ottawa's been charging in, waving their toothpicks in the shooting lanes has completely disrupted the flow of Buffalo's speed game.

Apparently, the official rallying point is to be Elgin Street at Maclaren (facebook campaign here). I figured a "red mile" arrangement would prove difficult to sustain, given the platoon dispersal that occurs between the Palladium eastbound on ramp and the Byward Market. Having said that, Elgin is a great choice. It's relatively narrow, loaded with bars and restaurants and is easily accessible from the Metcalfe Street off-ramp and the new University of Ottawa pedestrian bridge. The north end of the street has a nice visual terminus in the War Memorial and Chateau Laurier and a quick left will take you onto Parliament Hill. Google maps shows the meetup site in its context (note to the Hockey Gods: this is NOT, repeat NOT a parade route). One of my favourite Elgin memories followed the Olympic Gold in 2002. After a hockey-stick-mounted-flag-waving victory lap that incorporated the PM and GG's residences (we passed a Vermont-plated SUV who had to be wondering why Canadians had become so aggressively patriotic all of a sudden) there was a street filling congregation that began at the above-referenced corner, finally welling up and moving northward (w/ police escort) to the chant of "Parliament Hill!! Parliament Hill!!"

Phone lines are open to discuss hockey stick flag etiquette, lessons in drunken revelry taken from past Canada Days and the horrors of shirtless civil servants flashing their man-boobs.

A little stale but still tasty...

Yesterday's column by Cox:
Neither Alfredsson nor his teammates would dare say it, of course, but the winner of this series is now a mere formality, with the Sabres so completely out of sync they have no chance to record a historic comeback.

Assuming the Sens do get through to the final to face either the Anaheim Ducks or Detroit Red Wings, the 34-year-old Alfredsson will be their leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Imagine if that were to happen. Alfredsson, the only player in the entire NHL the Leaf Nation insists on booing every time he touches the puck, winning the trophy named after the founder of Maple Leaf Gardens.

Delicious.

Playoff Memories XIV: You've Lost That Sweeping Feeling

It would probably be more accurate to say you've never had that sweeping feeling but no song's title fit as well as the famous Top Gun tune. In the sens' history they have never been on the good end of a sweep. Twice they have watched their opposition celebrate their series victory in the quickest way possible. One was 1999 to slugnation and the other is the focus of today's memory (which Muppet had to remind me to put up).

In 2001, so the story goes, the senators entered their series as heavy favourites only to run into an opponent that was apparently built to sweep them. The senators faced their own 3-0 deficit on the road in a series that also featured two OT wins for the buds. slugnation takes some solace in the fact that their losses have been close but the reality is that sans Miller this series would be a laugher. Not so in 2001. The sens had a legitimate beef that they were being swept aside by a team that got by on unreal tending by CuJo is his prime and a lot of desire. The Leafs took the advantage that their goalie gave them and swept aside a dispirited senators squad in the fourth game to move onto the second round.

The pertinent lesson for the senators is to step on the throats of the slugs. Jay's post outlines the importance of putting the slugs out of their misery. A slugs win tonight gives them a ray of hope going back to Buffalo. A win there and the media pressure on the sens gets ramped up as stories listing past choke jobs are rehashed. A loss in game 6 brings the mustachioed fanbase back to Canada with a world of momentum as sens fans frantically look up how to perform the Heimlich manouevre. A re-energized slugs team that wins game 6 would send the series back to The Queen City for a game 7 in front of a rabid home crowd that would have probably re-discovered religion.

Then the sens would be just 60 minutes away from a historic collapse and submitting the rest of us to another year of arrogant and smug slugs fans. Not to mention the deluge of insane posts (for reference, see BfloBlog's Sabreslegends) that would probably infect our little corner of the internets. So for the good of all mankind, please squeeze the life out of the sabres. Try to do it something like this ;)


RUNNING ON FUMES?

If you're an Ottawa Senators fan and you watched this game, you're feeling pretty uneasy this morning about the prospect of facing the Detroit Red Wings. Don't lie, you are.

If you're a Leaf fan, you're thinking that if Detroit and Ottawa play in the finals we'll be hearing a lot of "at least we made it to the finals, you didn't make the playoffs" all summer.
I can live with that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bullshit!

The current webpoll results on 580 CFRA:



Note: if you haven't heard today's whinerline installation, it really is a must listen.

If it means anything to the slugfans out there, I can certainly empathize with being down 3-0 to a fourth-seeded upstart, having gone Full Metal Jacket after that J.P. Dumont overtime nutcrusher one year ago (go ahead, travel through the wormhole to the bizarro world that was May 10th, 2006 if you dare). My advice? Take advantage of the new uniform regs (and the advice of hockey fans everywhere) and get back to the white buffalo on black and red background for 07-08. Coupled with the humiliating power outage so far in the finals, the San Diego Sluggachargers look clearly isn't flattering you.

Leaf Lunch

For a short intermission I thought this latest offering from the Toronto media would be a nice break from all this...playoff talk.
Last year it was Mats selling his house. This year...

SWEDISH CLUB CHASING SUNDIN!

Mats Sundin's former club in Sweden is trying to convince the Maple Leafs' captain to head home and play for Djurgarden according to reports out of Sweden.

While Djurgarden could not match any financial offer the Leafs could put forth, the Swedish club is hoping the lure of returning home and some creative financing would help convince Sundin to sign, according to Swedish daily Aftonbladet.
The contract that has been offered has been tied to revenues and could double depending on how Djurgarden fares at the gate, club director Tommy Engström told the paper.

The Leafs can still hold a one-year option on Sundin.


A small part of me wonders of the possibilities his $6M might play in the UFA market.
I think I would miss him though.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bert says



5 more wins to go!

Round 3, Game 3: Boot to the throat



[above: They're all growns up]

Keys to Game 3:

1. Be prepared for another early Sabres onslaught and don't sweat it if the first one or two go in. Senators are notorious for allowing a flurry of activity around their net early in games. The good thing is they've overcome these tension breakers with remarkable composure. Definitely one of the redeeming features of Senators 2.0.

2. As in 1., look for the zebras to catch up on some missed calls early in the game. Despite their timid 0 fer 12 powerplays in the first two games, you can't let the Sabres get their special teams back into this.

3. There were a couple of guys who I thought were due for a goal in Game 2. Schaefer and Vermette looked great along the boards and screaming after the puck. Schaefer rarely shoots and it seems he hasn't scored in ages, but it'd be great if he could get a bounce here or there.

4. Another guy I'd like to see have a better game is Christoph Schubert. He seems to be taking penalties way out of proportion to his ice time, and a lot of them have to do with not keeping up with the play (he's a team low -3 in the post season).

5. Despite the holes exposed on Ryan Miller, he's really had Dany Heatley's number, coming up with some great stops in close. 10 shots on goal, but no dice yet for the Heater. Time to break that shutout bid.

Open thread for War of 1812 smack, Scott Norwood props and Mike Keith impersonations (hang in there, haloscan!)

Living in it

1. Driving from the hardware store on Sunday down Bank St, I passed Play It Again Sports which is selling Sens gear outside the store. One jersey hangs with the name/number out - Joe Corvo.

2. Talking to my father yesterday and he actually requests accomodation should the Sens win it all. He, a long time Leaf fan, says; "I want to see a Stanley Cup parade."

3. I was humming this song all day yesterday as I worked on the house and I didn't know why until I read Erin's post today.

Playoff Memories XIII: Long Live Brett Hull’s Skate

Probably the best antagonistic reply to slugs' game day thread courtesy of THM. The Buffalo area has been victimized by some of the most memorable sporting moments in history. From Wide Right to Brett Hull's Skate to The Music City Miracle (my personal favourite since Flutie should have been starting instead of that freaking tackling dummy Johnson. Nice move Phillips you moron.) the denizens of The Queen City have repeatedly been crapped on by sports.

In fact, it's something that they share in common with Ottawa. From the Gliebermans to Daigle Martin Brodeur to the Maple Leafs and sabres senators fans have dealt with excruciating heartbreak. However, this playoff season has been an extended revenge tour for the capital city. First, a big part of those Leafs teams was dispatched in the first round, then the goalie that cost the sens their last best chance at a final, and now the team that has ended their playoff hopes 3 times (to the Leafs 4) is facing the wrath of Alfie. On the bright side, a sens win moves them to 1-3 against the slugs and leaves the Leafs alone as post-season tormentors of the city that fun forgot. On the other hand, the sens could soon be 4 wins from causing a rash of suicides and murderous rampages in Toronto. Go Ducks!

For today's flashback we head to a series that could act as a proxy for this year's ECF. The senators entered the 2001 playoffs as the Northeast Division champs and were tipped for a run at Lord Stanley's mug. They faced a team with a rougher style of play in the 7th seeded Leafs. After sweeping the season series the sens were expected to make short work of the buds (much like some people suggested that the slugs would enjoy tossing the sens aside). The outcome was one that cemented the sens' label as a team that could not win in the post-season as they were brushed aside by the Leafs 4 games to 0. In honour of tonight's game 3 we take a trip back to that year's 3rd game (also at home for the underdog) to see the making of a hero or as Jay calls him, Cory Freaking Cross.



Sunday, May 13, 2007

Off-day filler

TSN has all the highs and lows of the Senators franchise to date archived in one convenient location [be sure to do all the links].

My personal favourites:


1. The heroic Neil Brady lights up the Civic Centre with Ottawa's first goal in the modern era (gotta hand it to him, guy was only -25 in 55 games!)

2. A report from the '93 draft where Alex Daigle goes #1 in front of Chris Pronger.

3. Lowlights from the first ever playoff game against the Sabres, including bonus footage of a shirtless Gary Galley talking up smack to the assembled scribes.

4. The glorious first series win against the Devils. I can almost hear Dean Brown with the call: "net is empty...Van Allen to Kravchuk...SCORES!!!...EEEEEEEGORE KRAVCHUK DRRRRIVES THE NAIL...THROUGH THE DEVILS HEARTS". To think Dougie G. still thought they were the better team as he was clearing out his locker. Of course, the Toronto Sports Network can't bother to get the facts straight, referring to their "first ever [playoff] win in Game 1", ignoring the three games they won against the Sabres the year before.

5. Bob MacKenzie liking the Yashin deal "from an Islanders perspective"

Which Muckler reaction will be captured tomorrow night? Will he hurl his Dasani bottle out of the suite, spit his dentures into his lap or bust out of his suit Incredible Hulk-style?









From the top:

2004 Game 7 Niewendyk exposes Lalime
2006 Game 3 OT loss
2007 Game 2 - Briere 'nad-punch
2007 Game 2 - Corvosian double OT knuckler

Saturday, May 12, 2007

6 more to go!


Play it Ernie!

Round 3, Game 2: Spitting In The Face Of History

[pic credit: Sun]

Keys to victory:

1. If Fisher, Schaefer and Comrie can keep the SlugStache from "barely touching the puck" as they did in Game 1, we'll be in pretty damn good shape. More physicality and better positioning from the 7 and 42 combo will help shore up last game's glaring deficiency (I think I've seen Priessing "shove" a guy in the corner once, but nothing more violent than that).

2. For Ray Emery, I'm thinking if the crowd gets after him early, it'll actually work to his advantage. That's just the way this guy is.

3. Is there a more laid back guy right now than the other captain Dan? Rollerblading with Hugo on the day off while the Sabres shift uncomfortably in the local media spotlight.

4. My favourite theme so far is that the Sens are last year's Sabres and the Sabres are last years Sens. You're looking at the difference between a team that had a rocky start and battled back over 82 games and one that started off as world beaters, hit a stretch of injuries and lineup rotations and never really regained their lustre. My "supposed to" factor is looming large, and I'll glady accept any additions in the karma department.

5. You have to think the signs are pointing to a Senators win, here. Sure, they want to shrug off this blasted curse and they'll play hard enough to grind out a win based on that fact alone. But knowing that even if they lose, they walk out of B-Lo with a split, they're bound to be playing under a lot less pressure than their opponents, who absolutely must win tonight. When the Senators have played under pressure in the past, it hasn't been pretty and I think we'll see them play it nice and loose, knowing they've got the game one win in their pocket.

Open thread for predictions, panic, plaudits and plastered punditry.

Friday, May 11, 2007

On Effort, Omens, Goalies, and Magic Switches

After an eye-opening game 1 here is a taste of what some fans have to say about the game and the buildup. I wanted to get Tom's version of 'the sabres lost but we are still so much better because of our magic switch' but he has been busy with other things so here is a sampling of what is up:

Sens Fan in Toronto (A Spy!)

Emery’s game tonight was stellar. The defence let him down on both goals, not his fault. But where was Miller? Did you see the HJR (Huge Juicy Rebound) he gave up right to Comrie? Wow. Let’s hope Ray finds something to do before Saturday’s game.
34 shots against is way too many against a team with actually talented forwards.

Sens Army

Let me leave you with one final thought. Remember Cam Ward? Yeah, he's back - in black!
Is this the funniest/most inappropriate comment ever? Is it wrong to admit that my sides hurt from laughing at that?

Smarting Senators

So if you need someone to rush onto Chippewa Street at 4 a.m. and punch out a bunch of drunken thugs, Emery is your man. Knocking this Sabres team out of the playoffs, well, that’s a different matter. You don’t like our clubs, Ray? Two weeks from now, you might have some other clubs on your mind. Golf clubs.
This is actually an excerpt that JP found from Jerry Sullivan. I wonder if he'll enjoy the taste of humble pie in ten days.

Dispatches from the Aud

While looking good for brief periods, Buffalo overall looked slow, lazy, and completely out of sync. They committed far to many turnovers, and struggled on special teams.
It hurts to have to write recaps like that (I should know) but the nail is hit on the head.

Buffalo Sports Stampede

The Sabres will have to play a better game if they are going to compete with this Ottawa team that was very impressive this evening.
Recognition that the sens are in fact better than the Rangers and Islanders seems to have hit the slugs' fanbase a little hard. Wasn't there a magic switch that was going to move the Sabres from 'just good enough' to 'amazingest team ever in the history of hockey'?

Interchangeable Parts

Pookie is concerned, in an oracle kind of way, for the Sabres; on her drive home from work today she saw a hawk flying overhead with a mouse in its talons, and, she reports, the hawk was red and the mouse was the same color brown as a buffalo. We can only hope that after she passed by the mouse fought back and beat down the hawk.
Well that turned out to be prescient. Apparently what happened was that the hawk played with the mouse for 40 minutes before tearing its insides out over the final 20.


The Sabres looked tonight not unlike how they played against the Islanders, and, um, discovered the Senators are considerably better than that.
What was that famous line about how the sens in Islanders' clothing would be looked upon as sweep material?

BfloBlog

Speaking of bad decisions with the puck, the Sabres had nineteen Giveaways to Ottawa’s eight last night. Two of those giveaways led directly to Ottawa goals. Buffalo was lazy with their passes and the Ottawa players hustled to break up and intercept those long, no-look, sloppy passes.

The slugs' weakness is that for all of their talk of depth on defence they lack a number one guy that can calm things down when the forechecking becomes relentless. Expect this stat to stay the same as long as the sens continue to pressure the puck effectively.

Lindy Ruff

"Was it nerves? Maybe they got a little bit rattled."—Lindy Ruff, talking about how the Sabres were a bit shaky.

Weren't the sens supposed to be the mentally weak ones?

Token MSM contribution Dave Shoalts G&M
Talk about your giveaway nights. But this was no fan promotion for the Buffalo Sabres, this was making a gift of the first game of the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference final for the Ottawa Senators. Thanks to 19 giveaways, two of which resulted in goals, including the winner, and their anemic power play, the Sabres gave the Senators a 5-2 win last night in the series opener as well as home advantage.
No worries, sens fans, in Toronto it's generally assumed that Shoalts uses mind-altering drugs as he is generally in opposition to the truth at every turn.

Quick Site Update

We just added a section on the side for Sabres' sites. Again, if you want in just drop me a line or leave it in the comments.

Robbery!

[disclaimer: due to a four hour meeting at the end of the day yesterday, what little I caught of the game was worried glances cast upon a nearby TV monitor during breaks in the tedium]

Things that probably won't happen in Game 2:

- The Sabres failing to bury their first period chances. I'll chalk this up to nerves on the part of the home team. Buffalo always look like they're about to score and Emery served them up some cafeteria style rebounds complete with steaming mashed potatoes and a boat of homemade gravy on the side. Put anyone of those away and that crowd explodes into a Laheyian shit tornado.

- [adjusts specs] Am I reading this correctly? Briere 15:33 TOI, -2, 0 shots? I know Buffalo like to spread the ice time around, but jeez, if I were to pick a guy who's bound to come up big in the follow up game, that's him. Credit the checking line of Fisher, Comrie and Schaefer as appropriate.

- Unbelievable gifts courtesy the Sabres defensive corps, particulary with the man advantage. Again, I suppose you could credit this to team under pressure in an electric series home opener, but returning the favour in their own end were Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing (all you kids out there, you see what happens when you shave in the playoffs?) who had no comparable excuse.

And with that surprising win, Game 1 is in the bag and out the door for the good guys. All you could ask for here is a split, and while the Senators continue to meet and vastly exceed this fan's expectations, the 0-8 record after winning the first game of a series can be vanquished some other day. Having said that, Spezza sounds hungry!:

"Now we have a chance to steal two before we go home," said Spezza. "We just have to get rid of those second-game blues. I know we're going to talk about that all day (today), so maybe we can finally just shake it"

On an admin. note, haloscan has been about as shaky as Roberto Luongo's bowels of late. For anything longer than a sentence or two (i.e. Fuck You Muckler, Don't Fuck With Duff!!11TM), maybe save a copy to a text editor rather than risk having your witty and insightful takes swallowed by the Sarlacc Pit of commenting software.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Suck it


Run Grover, run! Tell the world! Seven more wins to go!

Game Damn 1

One of the things that shocks me about the comparisons to last year is that sabres fans are convinced that they bode well for them. There is a lot of talk of the slugs having whipped the sens last year. Keep in mind that they won 3 games in OT and victimized a rookie goalie for 3 goals on 4 shots. That Ray Emery doesn't exist. Neither does the Andrej Meszaros that freaking fell down on the first OT goal.

And the hunger that drove the sabres to a team record points total last season and the beginning of this season has slowly melted away over the course of the second half of the season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. The talk of them being able to flip a switch? BS. If making it to the playoffs doesn't improve your play then being in the third round won't help rouse the slugs from their slumber. And if it does, just pour beer on them, that kills them.

So here's your in-game thread. Don, Jay, and I will probably miss most if not all of the game/chatting so keep it clean-ish (as clean as it gets) and for God's sake don't leave AGQ and jared alone again!

The Lowest Common Denominator

While everyone likes a little trash-talk the respectfully arrogant kind is the most enjoyable. I think most people here would agree. However, everyone once in a while you visit Habsblog to see multiple exclamation points, random caps lock, slanderous comments, and for a little bit of affirmation that no matter how bad you feel you are still above the lowest common denominator.

Well a series that is dripping with hate just picked up two more outlets. We Hate Your Team represents the slugs, the dentally challenged, and the 4-time grade 3 spelling bee participant. Meanwhile, We Hate The Sabres gives an outlet to the boring (really, they are fellow Canadians so there can't be that much wrong with them aside from their hockey allegiances) senator fans.

The message board will give you flashbacks to a certain bleu, blanc, et rouge site but the photoshopped pictures are top draw.

Recipe for Boiling Blood

Tom Luongo is exceeding my expectations in his attempts to ratchet up the rhetoric between the two clubs. He hates the sens in an almost admirable way :) Here are the highlights:
Warning: This blogger completely despises the Ottawa Senators and thinks they're a bunch of slew-footing, knee-on-kneeing, cheap-shotting dirtbags and that's when he's feeling generous, so salt the following comments to taste.
And that is with a complete lack of irony!

I'm sure Peter Schaefer will be looking for another opportunity to put his elbow into Tim Connolly's jaw.
I have tried my hardest to see an elbow but the hit was basically Steve Moore's hit on Naslund and a few other headshots this past year: within the rules but with an odor. Oh, and definitely not an elbow.
I'm wondering just when Dany Heatley tries to slew-foot Dainus Zubrus?
Do sens fans get to wonder when Spacek is going to try to 'Nichol' a forward into the post in an attempt to hurt them? Or if Briere's stick will magically turn into a groin-divining rod?
The key to beating Ray Emery is getting him moving and forcing him to do something he doesn't like to do, think. He's an extremely aggressive goaltender and beating them has always been using that aggressiveness against them. Ryan Miller, on the other hand, just out-dueled the best goaltender in these playoffs, and in doing so made me look like a veritable genius by pointing out his ability to be one save better than the guy at the other end of the rink. Miller makes the tough saves look easy because he's the opposite of Emery, smart and positionally sound.
Emphasis mine. That one was long but the book on Miller (based on seeing about 20 of their games this year) is pretty simple: Shoot high and create traffic. For all of his 'smarts', and this will shock some of you that think that Miller is God and Raycroft is terrible, he is a carbon copy of the Leafs' tender but with a slightly better glove. He plays the butterfly and goes down early but you can definitely get him out of position when he is scrambling. The sens's forwards are well suited to exploiting these weaknesses.
They have a solid team from top to bottom but whose mental toughness is still a serious question mark for me, though the rest of the hockey world seems to think otherwise.
Again, while I do wonder just how mentally tough the senators really are (based on the second half and the playoffs they are tough enough) I would point out that the Sabres are just as much of a question mark. How did the accepted wisdom become that the Sabres are mentally tough?
as opposed to trying to win the Stanley Cup in November as they've done in the past.
Ironic because that's the arc that the Sabres' season has taken.
Great teams rise to challenges and there isn't one guy in that Ottawa dressing room who has ever achieved more than he was supposed to or won when he had to.
Those guys don't exist in the room across the hall either. These are two teams of chokers and never-been-theres and one will get to take one more step towards shedding that label but make no mistake if there is any advantage in experience it is precisely that the senators have more experience losing and it seems to have steeled them to the path to victory.

I re-watched last year's Pominville winner and it's hard to picture a scenario where Alfie makes a limp stick check on that play. This year he'd probably grab Pominville and drive him through the glass before scoring the winner. What a scary thought.

Parody this...

Team1200 put out their Buffalo song here. Pretty good.

They also took a nice shot at the WGR folks with this.

Playoff prediction contest

I take no special pleasure in remaining in first place in the contest. Not until the final is done will I consider the honour and glory that would be bestowed upon the victor.

If you didn't make your predictions in the post below, make them here. Mine are Anaheim in 6 and Ottawa in 5.

Round 2 results and overall standings....

Round 2:

Rank Name Det SJ Ana Van Buf NYR NJ Ott
1 Actual 4 2 4 1 4 2 1 4
2 Nick 4 2 4 1 3 4 1 4 4.5
3 DC in YOW 4 3 4 0 4 2 2 4 4.5
4 The Muppet 4 2 4 1 4 3 3 4 4.5
5 Matt 4 3 4 2 4 2 2 4 4.5
6 Don 4 2 4 1 2 4 1 4 6
7 THM 4 3 4 2 4 1 2 4 6
8 Indrew 2 4 4 1 4 2 2 4 7.5
9 Adam 2 4 4 1 4 3 1 4 7.5
10 wavetank 3 4 4 2 4 2 2 4 7.5
11 Jay 4 2 3 4 4 1 2 4 9
12 Notch 3 4 4 2 4 3 2 4 9
13 Conrad 2 4 4 1 4 2 3 4 9
14 symbiont1 2 4 4 1 4 3 2 4 9
15 LMN 3 4 4 1 3 4 2 4 10.5
16 David Johnson 4 3 4 1 4 3 4 2 10.5
17 Gareth 3 4 4 2 4 1 3 4 10.5
18 Duff 3 4 4 2 3 4 0 4 12
19 Ron 2 4 4 1 3 4 2 4 12
20 jaredoflondon 4 3 4 2 4 3 4 2 12
21 senator42 4 1 2 4 4 0 2 4 13.5
22 Ataea 4 3 2 4 4 2 4 3 15
23 Five-O 3 4 4 3 4 1 4 3 15
24 Chemmy 2 4 4 3 4 2 4 3 15
25 sharrrsie 1 4 4 2 2 4 2 4 16.5
26 Pav 2 4 3 4 2 4 1 4 18
27 GeeIWonder 2 4 2 4 2 4 2 4 21
28 PPP 1 4 4 0 2 4 4 3 21
Total picks 12 16 23 5 19 9 6 22


Overall standings:

1 Don 14
2 DC in YOW 14.5
3 Indrew 15.5
4 Adam 16.5
5 Matt 23.5
6 The Muppet 23.5
7 Five-O 24
8 jaredoflondon 25
9 Notch 25
10 Conrad 26
11 LMN 28.5
12 Duff 31
13 David Johnson 32.5
14 Ataea 34
15 Chemmy 34
16 PPP 35
17 GeeIWonder 36
18 THM 38

Playoff Memories XIII: Keep Your Head Up

The senators have demonstrated a level of sandpaper in these playoffs that they have never matched before. So often they were intimidated by the rough stuff as teams knew that the best route to neutralising their superior skill was to try to run them down with hits. This year the roles are reversed. The sabres (no capitals for you either!) are now the team whose game can be offset by a physical challenging game. Their fans will argue otherwise but the proof is in the pudding. The members of the BoO won 8 games against the sabres (should have been 9) and they universally featured a physical approach that covered the entire length of the ice.

Today's flashback takes us to last year's meeting between the two teams when Peter Shaeffer delivered a hit on Tim Connolly from which he has just recently recovered. If the sabres are to win their defencemen will have to keep their heads about them and not fall into the trap of avoiding the hit as they did in so many matchups with Ottawa this year.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Opening Salvo

Ok, I have decided that I hate the Sabres more this year. If they can miss this chance to win the Cup then they will likely lose more important pieces of the puzzle over the summer and become the Eastern Conference's answer to the Nashville Predators. I still hate the senators but the enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that. For 7 games or less. And then I'll be Earl Sleek's new best friend.

Matt and Tom L at Sabre Rattling have a preview of the series and a response to an article up respectively in what constitutes the Eastern Conference Finals' Battle of Lexington and Concord.

Here are some highlights:
It seems every post-season the same thing gets said. They’re more committed to team defense than in the past. More committed than under Jacques Martin? Murray was brought in to open up the Sens, not close them down. More schizoid behaviour
from an immature bunch of pretenders.
Pot. Kettle. Black.
Can Fisher, Comrie, Vermette and Kelly do it this time? Bottom line, one injury to any of those three guys and Ottawa is sweep material.
Dismissing an entire team. Interesting.
If Ray has to think about where the shot it coming from, the Sens are in trouble. He’s outplayed 2 AHL goalies (Sorry Marty, but man most of those goals were brutality incarnate) on one-line teams. Woo.
He didn't have trouble in the regular season and that's when the Sabres were actually playing near their potential. Meanwhile, Miller's been outplayed by two goalies and their one-line teams.
The Sabres haven’t played their best game in a while and when we do with half a squad of Amerks and a short bench, we make the Sens look positively chicken-s#$t.
There's that talk of magic switches again. That might work against flawed teams like the Islanders and Rangers but it won't be easy against the most complete senators team in my lifetime.
Forner Sens teams were so yellow that they might as well have donned the Preds 3rd jerseys.
Interesting considering that the Leafs and sens racked up 8 wins against the Sabres this year in hard-hitting games that saw their defense throw the puck away like a grenade.
If we’re talking about Spezza and Heatley back-checking on occasion as the team’s newly-found committment to defense then just state that, but past the first line, this is a team of muckers and checkers that if they wore Islanders sweaters the press would be talking a Buffalo sweep.
Hmmm, or maybe they are talking about Phillips and Volchenkov shutting down the top line of the Pens and Devils or their complete denial of second chances or their complete domination at 5 on 5. And comparing them to the Islanders will not look good when the Sabres are golfing in two weeks.
I despise the Ottawa Senators in a way that I no longer despise the Rangers, because they’ll never understand why it is that they suck. It’s a franchise that is the quintessence of immaturity. With all of the personnel changes why couldn’t the Sens land just one guy who’s actually won something?
Did I miss all of the Stanley Cup winners that the Sabres added? Drury is nice but who else on their team has won anything in the NHL? Plus, Gerber has a nice ring ;) The
Sens have Alfie as their captain. We have Drury. Who would you pick?
I'd take either so far in these playoffe. It's basically a wash but I would go with the guy that's never been a diver (ps all Sabres are divers and Roy is their leader).

So, have at it ladies and gents. Remember Tom's request:
p.s. No more politeness from here on out. This is the Conference Finals vs. Ottawa. I want pics of choking babies and ‘your momma’s so ugly’ jokes. Let it all hang out people (but keep the profanity to a minimum, please).
As a reminder to visitors, we try to keep it respectful as possible while intimating that the other side of the argument is insane. This isn't Habsblog. Spelling, Grammar, coherence, and a minimum of caps lock/exclamation points are all valued. As a guideline I would suggest respectful arrogance and everyone will get along fine :)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Schedule released

Date Time (ET) #1 Buffalo vs. #4 Ottawa
Thursday, May 10 7:00 p.m. Ottawa at Buffalo
Saturday, May 12 8:00 p.m. Ottawa at Buffalo
Monday, May 14 7:00 p.m. Buffalo at Ottawa
Wednesday, May 16 7:00 p.m. Buffalo at Ottawa
* Saturday, May 19 2:00 p.m. Ottawa at Buffalo
* Monday, May 21 7:00 p.m. Buffalo at Ottawa
* Wednesday, May 23 7:00 p.m. Ottawa at Buffalo

Your One Stop Shop

Looking for the other sides take on the game? Want somewhere to post gloating messages or venemous attacks? Well here is a list of some of the ones that I am most familiar with but if you are a Sabres blogger visiting for the same purposes and want to be added to the list then send me an e-mail.

Sabre Rattling - Tom Luongo and Matt's site is one of the best for the impartial analysis of the NHL and some Sabres topics that involve no other teams. Otherwise, it is blinkered, aggressive, arrogant, and it is still one of my favourite non-BoO related sites. In the midst of all the slug-love there is some very good tactical analysis and Tom especially responds to any comments with an open mind.

BfloBlog.com - This site is great for game threads.

Dispatches from the Aud - The MVN site for the Sabres is like the sens' one but without the rantings and ravings of JP Allard.

Bleeding Blue and Gold - Great pre-game posts.

Hockey's Ladies of Greatness - In honour of our resident logo designer, the HLOG has two contributors. Get to know them both: Heather B. and Paige.

Rnd 3 Ticket prices

No seats for under $100 in this round.


BoO roadie

It has come to my attention that readers of the BoO may want to go to Buffalo for Game 1 or 2. If you mail me today I'll put you in touch with one another tomorrow. Not sure yet when the Sabres will put tickets up for sale.

Smack begins

Another original from Buffalo radio here.

Alfredsson over the hill?
Neil no spine? Has Adam Mair grown 6 inches since February?

Playoff Memories XII: Atonement

Last night's episode of Entourage took place on the Jewish Holy Day of Yom Kippur when Jews around the world fast and ask God for forgiveness for their sins. After 9 playoff appearances whose outcomes could be best described as sins against their fanbase the senators are seemingly bent on atoning for the pain and suffering that they have caused Duff, Jay, Don, Gee, Sherry, AGQ, and an astonishingly drunk THM in one glorious playoff run. And by glorious I mean nausea and fear inducing.

Their opponent are the Slugs which really puts a Leafs fan in a tough position. I HATE the Sabres and obviously I hate the senators. Both teams are close geographically and both have a cute hate for the Leafs in that little brother in the elder brother's shadow sort of way. Neither set of fans have a Stanley Cup but apparently 40 years is an acceptable taunt despite that absence. While I think the west will produce this year's champ either team being in the final means that there is the chance that one of these rivals will have a Cup to lord over Leafs Nation and the thought just made me throw up a little.

Today's flashback comes from last season's meeting between the two clubs. I'll have some thoughts on the series up tonight or tomorrow but needless to say, a trip to the finals on the back of a strong performance by Alfie and company will certainly make up for this:

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Testify


So it appears the Sens have legitimately acquired an underdog tag for the first time in the 2007 playoffs, almost ten years removed from the last time they wore the label. It's probably a good thing that the BoO archives only go back to the start of last season, the chronicle of ridiculously high expectations and their maddening lack of fulfillment would be almost epic in nature. It needs to be pointed out that of all the iterations of this team that have been pegged to win it all since, say 1999, this would be the last one I would have picked to even make it into the playoffs, let alone the conference finals. It's amazing the way this team has built up fan confidence in major strides, rather than incremental improvements. Hands up anyone, who, after watching that first period of Saturday night's game still figured the Sens had a chance to knock out the Devils right then and there? If you're like me, you almost became comfortable with the idea of dropping Game 5 knowing that the team could be patient enough to wait for home ice before confidently closing out round two. However, they managed to stick it out and scored a few ugly goals (remember how this was a near impossible task in previous series?) to win their fourth one-goal playoff game of 2007 (remember how this was almost guaranteed to be their playoff achilles heel?) and thereby preventing a hall of fame goalie from getting into any kind of comfort zone whatsoever (remember how the likes of Ed Belfour morphed into Terry Sawchuk when faced with feeble Senators offensive efforts?).


The next giant leap then, is the Mighty Slugs of Buffalo. Let's have a look at some quick numbers. Miller and Emery are 6th and 7th, with GAAs of 1.88 and 2.04, respectively after Saturday's game. Allowing four goals against the Strangers today should help to fluff Miller's average up a bit, making for a clean fight right off the bat. Save percentage-wise, Miller has the upper hand, facing far more shots than Emery over 10 games (Miller has faced about 40 more shots and allowed the same amount goals). Offensively, the Sens top line is rolling through the playoffs, occupying three of the top five point slots (the other two, Gomez and Nylander, have been eliminated as of Sunday evening). Forget about line matching, as the possible permutation and combinations for the Sabres could be the subject of a Combinatorics dissertation. It's much easier to describe them as having four second lines. Having said that, the Senators top line accounts for half of their goals and now would probably be a good time to see some production from any of, or all of, Peter Schaefer, Mike Comrie and Mike Fisher (remember when Murray had to shake up the lines every five minutes?). With regards to special teams, the Sens and Sabres are 2nd and 3rd of the final five on the PK. With the top line going, you know OTT's power play must be doing fine and it's actually tops in the post season, including an astonishing 33% on the road.

If I had to pick any possible factor to mitigate against the Sabres, it would be what (I think) John Tortorella described as the "supposed to" factor. The Sabres are supposed to represent the East, they're supposed to have blazing speed and top-to-bottom scoring, they're supposed to win a cup before all these individual talents go spinning off into free agency. What happens if the supposed favorite can't hold off a hungry and determined fourth seed?

Finally, can you picture that pose on the cover of NHL2K8?