It's very rare for me to ever sympathize with the "enemy", especially when it comes to hockey. I'm a homer when it comes to the Sens, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I would defend my players up and down, through thick and thin, no matter what.
Chris Neil lays out Chris Drury in a "questionable" hit? It was clean!! Drury shouldn't have been admiring his pass!!
Marian Hossa swings his stick too enthusiastically, catching Bryan Berard in the eye? He was just following through. It was a freak accident, very unfortunate for Berard, but not really Hossa's fault!!
Dany Heatley drives too fast, getting in a car accident and killing his Atlanta teammate Dan Snyder? It was a tragedy, but everybody makes mistakes. Snyder's family has publicly forgiven him, so quit trying to bring him down, people!!
Daniel Alfredsson plasters Darcy Tucker into the boards in another "questionable" hit? It was 85 years ago, idiots! Plus, Tucker's the most annoying player ever & he deserved it. Get over it and QUIT BOOING MY CAPTAIN!!
Yep, that's right. I'd stick up for them, in any situation.
But last night, watching the Sens take on the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis, I actually felt a little sorry for the home team. Just a little smidge of compassion. Because they were robbed - not just once, but twice.
In the third period, with the game tied at 2, Martin Gerber appeared to make a spectacular save off of Brad Boyes. Boyes was at the side of the net, staring at a wide-open cage, and the puck came to him. It looked like he had all day to just tap it in. But Gerber dove over, and made the stop, in what seemed to be a breath-taking show of goaltending prowess. It was the kind of save that would have a goaltender dreaming of winning the HON honours on TSN's Sportscentre Loop.
But our local broadcaster boys offered up an overhead view of the play that clearly showed the puck had crossed the line. Apparently the St. Louis players didn't realize it, because they didn't even demand that they go upstairs. If they had, the replays would have shown that it was a goal and St. Louis would have gone ahead 3-2. However, there was no uproar at all, the puck was dropped, and play resumed. Moments later, the St. Louis video goal judges buzzed down to say it was a goal, but you can't go back in hockey once the puck has been dropped, so it was ruled "no goal".
Seconds later, Ottawa broke up ice shorthanded 2-on-1, Chris Kelly slid a pass over to Antoine Vermette, and Bam!! - just like that, it's 3-2 Ottawa!
Not long after, there was a scramble in the Ottawa end around Gerber, and the puck slipped into the net. The ref signalled "no goal" again, claiming to have blown the whistle. Replays showed that the puck had crossed the line mere seconds before the whistle blew. However, apparently when the ref loses sight of the puck and has his mind made up on the play, it doesn't matter if he blows the whistle or not, because in his mind, the play is dead. Another lost opportunity for the Blues.
One more thing happened that was obviously missed by the officials or Ottawa would have taken a delay of game penalty: With the Blues heading down the ice into the Ottawa end, chasing the puck, Antoine Vermette had a brain cramp or something while sitting on the bench and reached over the boards to swing his stick at the puck. Luke noticed it first and we all laughed at him, but moments later they showed the replay, and sure enough, there was Vermette, leaning over the boards and waving his stick at the puck! If he had been caught doing that, it would have been a Blues powerplay, and they might have scored to get back in the game.
So yeah, I felt a little sorry for the poor lads. The hockey gods were definitely not smiling on them last night.
Now, on the flip side, it was imperative for the Sens to secure the two points as we continue to battle Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference for 4th place. Meanwhile, the game was meaningless to the Blues, as they were 12 points out of a playoff spot before last night's action. So I suppose I could look at it from the perspective that my team needed a little luck, and thanks to a slow video goal judge and a ref with a slow whistle, we got that luck last night.
But I think if I were a Blues fan, I'd be pretty ticked off!