Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Close...Yet So Far Away

There were no tears on Saturday night when the Sens' season came to an abrupt end as the Penguins' Pascal scored on our Pascal in OT to finish us off in 6 games.

Maybe it's a sign that I'm growing up. Or maybe it's a sign that I was already resigned to the fact that the Sens weren't going to survive this series.

But I'd like to think it was because, despite the sadness of watching my team lose in the first round of the playoffs again, I was more proud of them than anything. After going down 3-1 in the series, nobody was giving us a shot against the defending Stanley Cup Champs.

I was proud of my team for battling back, and the fact that they went down fighting allowed me to admire them in defeat.

Who knows what would have happened this Spring if the Sens had a healthy line-up? I really didn't think much about Alex Kovalev, Milan Michalek, or Filip Kuba during our run against Pittsburgh, but the fact is, the Sens were playing without two of their top-6 forwards, and one of their top-4 defencemen.

Who knows what might have happened if Daniel Alfredsson hadn't been suffering from a sports hernia, an abdominal pain that he fought through, and will require surgery for in the coming week? From the first puck-drop in this series, we could tell that the Captain was not at 100%. However, he laced 'em up anyways - like a true leader, like a true warrior - and in fact stood out as one of the best forwards in the final two games of the series, as Ottawa battled for their playoff lives. He finished tied with Matt Cullen for the most points by a Senator in 6 games, notching two goals and six assists. Imagine what a healthy Alfie could have done?

Who knows what could have been, had Cory Clouston chosen to go with Pascal Leclaire in nets earlier in the series, or even from the get-go? Leclaire's first appearance in the playoffs was a strong one, and quite different from the dismal season he had here in Ottawa, losing his #1 goalie status to Brian Elliott. And honestly, I didn't blame Clouston for going with Elliott, as he was the one between the pipes during the best times this season, while Leclaire battled injuries and major slumps. I was actually somewhat surprised that he turned to him after the Game 4 debacle (still SO thrilled that that was the game I had tickets for...) But Leclaire proved his worth in Game 5, turning in one of the best performances by a goaltender thus far in the 2010 playoffs, stopping 56 shots through three overtime periods. It also wasn't his fault in Game 6. Let's hope he can carry this into next season.

What might have happened if Mike Fisher's goal late in the second period of Game 6, which would have made the score 4-1, had counted? After a lengthy review, the officials deemed the net was off its moorings, though from the replays I saw, it was far from conclusive. That goal, had it counted, might have killed the Penguins comeback and swung momentum back in our favour. Instead, the Pens continued to chip away at our lead, and then finished us off in OT. We were that close to pushing this to a Game 7...

Who knows? But these are the twists and turns that make up a playoff series. The momentum swings, the ups and downs, the shoulda-coulda-wouldas... If anyone knew the right answers beforehand, then we'd be marching on to the second round.

Instead, another early summer. But gratification in knowing my guys fought hard to get into the playoffs after missing them last season, and then gave the Penguins, who were the last to hoist the Cup, a good run for their money. Memories of one of the most exciting goals in franchise history, when local boy Matty Carkner fired home the game winner in triple-OT last Thursday and force a Game 6. Smiles when I think of the fans at Scotiabank Place, louder than they have been since our run to the Cup Finals in '07, and a sea of waving white rally towels.
It was a good time, while it lasted. No tears at all.

And hope springs eternal that we get the chance to dance again next year.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Triple-OT GLORY!!

The Sens aren't done yet...

I'll admit, I was pretty sure they were toast going into last night's game. I already had it all planned out. After the loss, I was going to curse and stomp around my parents' house and maybe even cry, like I usually do when the Sens are beat out of the playoffs. Then I was going to go outside and rip my car flag off, and then drive home like a maniac, barrel into the house, and tear down my big Sens flag out of the living room window.

And then I was gonna be one ugly bitch all day today.

But instead, I'm a giddy bundle of happiness, thanks to some amazing netminding from Pascal Leclair (yes, one of my goalies learned how to stop the puck - for one night, anyway) - and a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE goal in the third OT by our wonderfully wonderful Matt Carkner!!

Who picked Carkner to score the winner?? Anyone??

Of course not. Carkner's a defenceman whose specialty is fighting and grinding. But you know what? The sun shines on a dog's arse once in awhile, and I'm pretty sure Matt Carkner will never forget the way it felt to score that goal last night.

The Sens let the Pens know early on that they weren't going to go quietly into the night. They scored twice in the first period, with goals coming from Mikey Fisher and Jarkko Ruutu. My hopes were soaring again.

Then, for some reason, they took a giant group snooze, and relied heavily on Leclaire to keep them in the game. However, with the firepower that the Penguins hold, it was inevitable - they scored a late first-period goal, a late second-period goal, and in the third, who other than Crosby would score the go-ahead goal. Amidst all of this, the horrendous officiating persisted, and I was struggling to figure out why the Hockey Gods hated me & my team so much.

The CBC was also the target of much of my wrath. I detest Glen Healy, and Bob Cole is a complete joke. When Peter Regin scored to tie the game in the latter part of period 3, it was like he caught Bob totally off-guard. "Oh, what do you know...The Sens score...Maybe it isn't over after all..." Gee, Bobbo, try not to sound too excited, huh? The Crosby Broadcast Corporation is pathetic. Period.

The first OT was unbelievable. The Sens had a million chances, and couldn't capitalize on them. Well, actually, Nick Foligno did score, but it was ruled that he had kicked it in. Which he clearly did not, but because they made the same ruling against one of the Sedins (I don't know which one is which) in the Vancouver/LA series earlier in the playoffs, it didn't surprise me. SO frustrating, though.

The Pens had their fair share of chances as well. Chris Kunitz scored a goal that was also called back after he re-directed the puck in with a high stick late in the third period. And I'm pretty sure Evgeni "Big Lips" Malkin heard the clanging of the post he hit in one of the OTs in his sleep last night.

As the game stretched into the third OT, and became the longest Sens game in franchise history, I was getting more and more nervous. All these chances, Leclaire standing on his head... how long could it go on?

When Carkner took the feed from Alfie in the Pens zone and shot the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury for the winning goal, it was a feeling of complete elation. Happiness for Carkner, relief for Leclaire, and pride in knowing that my Sens aren't going down without a fight.

There's nothing quite like that feeling of winning in OT - let alone triple-OT.

And the Sens live to play another day. Saturday night at SBP...do-or-die time. Again.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The "I HATE..." Blog

OK, it's official...Sidney Crosby IS God.

Man, I hate how great he is. And I hate that my team let him romp all over them last night. And I hate that I was there to witness it.

While I'm listing things I hate? The refs. What a bunch of idiots. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but the way they've been calling this series - and especially last night's game - well, it clearly looks like they don't even want to give Ottawa a sniff of the next round. They're doing their part to make sure the Sens lose to a team that probably would beat them even without them lending a helping hand. I HATE THEM.

Hmm, what else do I hate...oh yes, I hate Jason Spezza. I know, he scored last night (finally). But his blind passes that usually end up on Penguin sticks are no longer tolerable in my world. And his beaut of a give-away last night that resulted in Crosby's first goal? Real nice, Spezz. Real nice. As far as I'm concerned, he can pack his bags once we're done with this series. I have no more patience for him and his "creativity". He's a complete knucklehead.

I hate that NEITHER of my goalies can stop a puck to save their lives. Brian Elliott gets yanked after the Penguins scored the first four goals of the game, so Pascale Leclaire comes in to replace him. For his first five or ten minutes, he looks like Superman (basically because he made a few saves, which Elliott was unable to do up to that point). The Sens start a little comeback, score a couple of goals, and for awhile, I think we might be okay. We might actually make a game of this. But then, Leclaire takes off his Superman cape, returns to normal, and the Penguins score another three goals before the game ends.


Oh, how I hate that we keep taking stupid too-many-men-on-the-ice penalties. Did all season, continue to do so in the playoffs - took TWO of 'em last night. Smarten up on the bench. That's pathetic.

I hated the little Penguin fans in the row in front of us wearing Crosby jerseys and whooping everytime Pittsburgh scored, but because they were only, like, ten years old I couldn't swear at them. Fack, I hated that!!

I hated that Spartacat never went near the two fans who dressed up like Penguins and danced in the aisle of one of the first level sections. He shoulda been down there kicking their asses. Even our mascot isn't stepping up!

I HATE Evgeni Malkin and his big ugly lips (which, by the way, I could see from all the way up in the last row of section 323), and the fact that he's doing as much or more damage as Crosby, but hardly anybody mentions him.

I hate that I think I just said nobody's giving Malkin enough credit.

I hate Matt Cooke. Because everyone hates Matt Cooke.

I hate that I wrote blogs praising Sidney Crosby just a few months ago. I'm glad we won gold, but I'm over it now. I wish I could take back those blogs telling you all how much I love him.

Because I really, really HAAAAAAAAAAATE him.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Just Wondering...

...I know, a few of my blogs from a couple of months ago are a stark contradiction to this statement, but...

Who the hell died and made Sidney Crosby GOD????


Friday, April 16, 2010

Oh, I almost forgot...


STUPID Heroes...

Oh wow. I didn't think the Heroes could be this stupid.

Last night on Survivor, we saw probably THE biggest goofy move in the history of the game. And the sad part is, the Heroes did it as a team.

At the Reward Challenge, the Heroes discovered that Coach was voted off the Villain tribe, convincing them that there's a strong women's alliance picking off the men, one-by-one, leaving "poor" Russell as the last man standing. Oh Lord. JT whispering to him, "Hang in there, buddy" - almost made me want to puke! I know they don't know Russell from a hole in the ground, but once they realize what a conniving snake he is, they'll be wishing they'd never felt sorry for him!!

So the Villains won Reward after they managed to stay up on their little footholds longer than three of the Heroes. They got to chow down on an Outback Steakhouse feast. Parvati found the clue to the second Hidden Immunity Idol on their beach, and shared it with Danielle, but chose to keep it a secret from Russell, the same guy who gave her his secret Idol a few weeks ago. Hmm...Interesting...

Meanwhile, back at the Hero beach, JT was coming up with his crackerjack of a plan: At the Immunity Challenge, he would somehow get Russell off to the side and hand him his Hidden Immunity Idol. He would also pass along a letter to explain that if he used it to save himself and vote out Parvati, that he would be safe with the five of them once they merge. Then they would proceed to pick off Jerri, Courtney, Sandra, and Danielle, and just SMASH that women's alliance!

Brilliant. Absoultely brilliant.

WHY did the rest of them go along with this dumbf*ck plan?!

I truly expected Colby, at some point, to stand up and say, "Whoa, guys, isn't this a little risky? We don't even know Russell. Maybe he's actually running the show over there, huh?" But noooooo... Colby disappointed me yet again. In fact, he was the one, once it was just him and Russell left on the platforms during the Immunity Challenge with the Heroes carrying a huge lead, that turned to Russell and told him to see JT after the challenge because he had something to give to him, and that he would become one of them once they merge.

What a goof.

Could they not see the Cheshire Cat smile on Russell's face? I cringed when Russell told the camera, "Now I don't even have to find hidden immunity idols. The other team is giving them to me!!" Literally, physically cringed.

Stupidest. Move. Ever.

So Russell and Parvati giggled with glee reading JT's "love letter", and in that moment, all of the credibility that JT, Colby, Rupert, Amanda, and Candice held just completely evaporated.

They literally are the stupidest Survivors ever.

Of course, Russell held on to that Idol and had no reason to use it at Tribal Council. Instead, they voted off Courtney. Looks like the merge is coming up next week, and the Heroes will get their first hint of how stupid they are by realizing that Russell didn't vote out Parvati after all.

But I'm pretty sure that Russell will be able to sweet-talk them, the way he always does, and they'll all end up being the biggest suckers he's ever been able to manipulate.

The really redonkulous thing is that Russell was able to do this all with very limited communication. They only see him briefly every couple of days. They don't even know him. And still, he's got them under his spell.

I can't figure it out out. I just can't figure it out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Game 1 Goes to the Sens!

Holy crap. I think I almost had a heart attack last night. And it was only Game 1!!

I know. Everyone likes exciting back-and-forth hockey. But quite personally, I'd prefer to kick ass 6-0 every game. It's a lot easier on the nerves.

I gotta say - I liked how my guys looked last night, and they eventually came away with a narrow 5-4 win over the Penguins at Mellon Arena. Marc-Andre Fleury clearly didn't have his best night between the pipes, and there were bounces that went our way (for once!). The third-liners were our big guns last night, grinding hard and capitalizing on the scoreboard. Goal-scorers were Peter Regin (who opened the scoring for Ottawa after Pittsburgh had taken a 1-0 lead while Regin was in the box), Chris Neil, Chris Kelly, Erik Karlsson, and Jarkko Ruutu.

I know. Seriously? Those were the goal-scorers? No sign of Alfie or Spezza or Fisher. And as much as I'd like to see those guys getting goals, the fact that our grinders were stepping up and scoring made me very happy!

Watching the game at my parents' place is always interesting, to say the least. Dad is this little black rain cloud of doom. When the Sens do something right, he doesn't say a word. But when they do something wrong, he pounces! Every time a lesser-light scored last night, he snorted, almost as though it was absolutely ridiculous to fathom them getting goals. He also strongly critiqued Brian Elliott, as he always does, but really - what goalie is good enough for my dad? I think just about the only one who passes his test is Martin Brodeur, and the fact is, there's only one Brodeur.

My mom is also a treat to watch hockey with. She talks to the TV. Non-stop. "Come on, guys, you have to pick it up!" "Awww, guys, you're playing sloppy!" "Let's go Ottawa, you can do better than that!" Funny at first. Annoying after awhile. Even worse when Luke starts snapping, "Shut up! They can't HEAR you!"

Then there came the Great Erik Karlsson Debate of 2010. Me & my mom, against Dad & Luke. After Karlsson dipsy-doodled in the neutral zone and gave the puck away, Mom and I ranted about how the kid has to be more careful with the puck. Dad and Luke jumped to his defence, and laughed at us for being so critical of the best offensive defenceman we've had in years. (Yes, the same two guys who criticize everyone else on the ice relentlessly.) The argument came to an abrupt end when young Karlsson scored his first playoff goal. And yes, they did torment us with the "Ha-Ha! How do you like him now?!" stuff. Whatever. As long as he keeps scoring, I guess I can overlook the odd blooper on the blueline.

End of the day? The Sens win in enemy territory and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7.

Bring on Game 2! GO SENS GO!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are you ALL IN - ALL RED??

The Playoffs start tonight, with the Sens taking on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1.

And all I gotta say is...

(To get your PRAISE ALFIE wallpaper, visit www.team1200.com)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Too Busy...Toooooo Busy!!

Way too frickin' busy...No time for Blogging...But a few quick things:

The Heroes are rockin' it on Survivor now, and this week the Villains lost both challenges again, this time sending Coach home. Russell continues to rule the roost. What an ass.

Daniel Alfredsson Day in Ottawa was Saturday, with the Sens closing out the season on home ice vs. the Sabres. The pre-game ceremony with Alfie and his family to honour the 1000 games was classy and a wonderful tribute to the greatest man to ever don the red, black & gold. His kids are adorable - fighting over the bouquet of flowers given to their mother, big smiles for Phillips and Fisher, Loui stepping off the carpet to take a little skid on the ice, and Hugo proudly singing O Canada...it was priceless. When Alfie lost his place in his notes and the fans rocked the place with chants of "Al-fie! Al-fie! Al-fie!" in the lull, it raised the hairs on the back of my neck. The only let-down was the final score, a loss to Buffalo, 5-2. Playoffs start tomorrow night. Bring on the PENGUINS. My love for Sid the Kid ends NOW!!

Nickelback concert on Sunday night in a 400 level suite = AWESOME. Never seen so many pyrotechnics in my life. The energy was awesome, Kroeger was at his raunchy best, it was LOUD & CRAZY. Awesome moments included little snippets of "Patience" by GnR, "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks..."TIMMAAAAAAAAAAAY!!"...the Mario Bros. underground tune...Also really cool to see them pay tribute to Alfie and his 1000 games, with Kroeger shouting, "How 'bout Daniel Alfredsson?" early on, then they flashed an image of him on the big screen during "Photograph", and when a bunch of guys came out late in the show to master-blaster beer out to the crowd, most of them were wearing red Alfie t-shirts.

Seems to me there's a pile of people out there who like to advertise that Nickelback is the worst band ever. For 17,200 of us on Sunday night, that opinion didn't matter. It rocked.

Last but not least...BIG congrats to a regular here on the Blog, Sharon, as she and her husband Wayne had a baby girl last week! Welcome Emma!! :)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

1000 Games, 1000 Memories

Yesterday was a very special day.

It was one for celebration. It was one for reflection.

Yesterday, in Sunrise, Florida, Ottawa Senators Captain Daniel Alfredsson played his 1000th game.

Okay, seriously. Where did 1000 games go? Where did the past fifteen years go??

Wow. Doesn't seem like that long ago that I was a twelve-year-old kid, joining the ranks of the Sens Army. Back then, it wasn't about Alfie for me. Back then, it was about this other guy, Wade Redden. (You might have heard me mention him before...)

But now, Redden's gone. Almost all of the guys who once composed the core of this team are gone.

But one remains. The one who now, truly, is the core of this team.

Daniel Alfredsson had already been in a Sens uniform for awhile by the time I pledged my allegiance to the Senators in the Spring of 1997, the first year they made the playoffs. He had already won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. He was already an integral part of a team that was finally dragging itself out of the humiliating depths of the NHL basement and developing into one of the most successful clubs in the league for years to come.

15 years later, he has even more to be proud of. For one thing - how many guys get to play 1000 games for one team, let alone 1000 games at all? He's dealt with injury problems. He's been down and out. Yet, he's persevered. And now he's more than just the captain of the Senators. More than just a key figure in the community.

Daniel Alfredsson is the face of the team. He is the Ottawa Senators.

When Alfie came here as a 22-year-old from Sweden, he brought along his girlfriend at the time, Bibi Backman. She is now his wife, and they have three boys, Hugo, Loui, and Fenix, all born in Ottawa. In a tribute to Alfredsson's 1000th game in the Ottawa Citizen on the weekend, Bibi said that back when she followed her boyfriend here to support him, she never expected to stay in Ottawa for long. But now, even after her husband retires, probably in a few years' time, she says they likely will stay here, because it truly has become home.

As a fan of the club, this milestone for Alfredsson stirs feelings of great pride & nostalgia. There are so many moments; so many memories; so many ups and downs.

It's impossible to recount them all, but without a doubt, the biggest high for me was when he scored against Buffalo in OT of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to send the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in modern franchise history. That goal was a special moment for Sens fans. It was better than making the playoffs for the first time, better than getting past the first round for the first time - the only thing that could be better would be winning the Cup.

The fact that Alfie scored it made it even more magical.

He's been there with arms raised for the best times; he's remained strong, steady and constant through the bad times. I truly hope that, before they raise his #11 to the rafters here in Ottawa, which they undoubtedly will do, that he has the opportunity to win that elusive, coveted prize - the Stanley Cup. He's already done everything else, winning with his homeland Sweden on the world stage, including a Gold medal from the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin. All he needs now is hockey's Holy Grail.

We've cheered him. We've laughed at his hair. The Leaf fans have booed him relentlessly (which he takes as a compliment, by the way). We've cheered him even harder when they do.

We've watched him grow into a man that now carries the weight of an entire city's hockey expectations on his shoulders.

He's our Captain, in a greater sense than just on the ice.

He's our fearless leader.

Here's to 1000 games.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It's Never a Win-Win for Jill...

This Survivor re-cap is going to be brief - holy hell things are busy around here! - but I just hafta start out by saying this:

YAY COLBY YAY!! Finally, the man showed a little spark! A little late, in my opinion, because I would've loved for James to see him in action, but whatever. At least he finally showed that he's still got it!

The Heroes finally slayed a few of their demons. Just a few weeks ago, Colby was the one to surmise that the Heroes weren't very good at basketball challenges or puzzle challenges. Lo and behold, this week we had both. In Reward, Colby did a lot of the grunt work as the tribes competed in a game of water basketball, with the first tribe scoring 3 baskets going off for a "healthy" feast. Colby was involved in all of the battles in the water for the ball, and he ended up scoring two of their three baskets to win Reward. There, they found another clue to a hidden Immunity Idol on their beach, and Rupert lamented that just when they were finally coming together as a cohesive unit, the game just had to creep back in. Well, duh, Rupe. It's SURVIVOR.

Despite the news that another Idol was to be found, the Heroes really did seem to be getting some of their swagger back. (Um, could just be me, but did anyone else notice how much better it was without James and his severe attitude problem? Might he have been the problem all along?) They headed into the Immunity Challenge hoping to continue their winning ways, but with another puzzle finale, I was doubtful. After racing to collect their puzzle pieces, it was JT and Amanda who finally were able to complete the puzzle and grant the Heroes their second victory in a row. Things are lookin' up for Colby and the gang!!

But the Villains' second consecutive loss set up the Boston Rob vs. Russell showdown that they've been foreshadowing for weeks now. I was really hoping Rob was going to take the little weasel to school and teach him a few Survivor lessons. Unfortunately, it really does appear that Russell is a Survivor expert. I have no idea how he does it, but he manages to win over the right people and he gets it done. He somehow got Jerri under his spell, causing tension between her and Coach. She tried to get Coach to tag along, but he wasn't quite as smitten with Russell. Instead, he went the way of the weakling, casting his vote for Courtney instead of joining ranks in the Rob vs. Russell combat. His vote for someone other than Russell sealed Boston Rob's fate, and he was sent home. Rob didn't go without a shot at his former ally, though - before departing, he muttered to Coach, "You're a little man." Zing!

My second favourite guy out there, so of course just as Colby gets his mojo back, Rob's sent packing. No friggin' fair. Blows my mind that Russell lives on in the game. I hate his smug little weasly face.

But as long as the Colbster's still there, I'll be okay.