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"A Sens-sational (usually) No Look Drop Pass"
Ottawa, ON • Canada • 35 Years Old • Male
I want to start with a rarely-if-ever used phrase -- Double Wow! Uhhhh...is that really how I want to start? Does anyone remember Pierre McGuire (if you don't know him, turn off your computer and never mention the word hockey again) yelling "Double Dion!" during a World Junior championship final when Dion Phaneuf corked two guys at once? The entertainment value of McGuire during a telecast can't be measured. Every game he is part of, I always find myself asking, "Did you hear McGuire say XXXXXX about XXXXX?" It is always either over-the-top absurd or ridiculously minor in relevance, but it is always memorable. I am getting off topic... Back to the Double Wow...

The first 'Wow' is for the 8-spot the Sens dropped on the Leafs in the must-win, Battle of Ontario finale. A month ago, I was certain that $12.99 would not be leaving my bank account for this game, because skipping a PPV against Toronto, with nothing on the line, seemed like an absolute no-brainer. Instead, I was forced to spend Wednesday, April 3rd 2008, nervously trying to map out all the possible scenarios that would have to happen for the Sens to miss the playoffs. And believe me, as a fan of Ottawa, those scenarios seemed all too possible. Come game time, I was a mess -- sweating; checking in on Washington every 3 seconds; drinking Bud Lights like there was a global shortage -- it was not pretty. $12.99 later, it was puck drop, and the game 81 version of the Senators didn't look all that bad in HD -- much better than the "game 79" and "game 80" Sens who both got shutout and looked like they would rather be reading Maxim than playing hockey. They were moving the puck crisply, skating with a little authority. They even moved the puck relatively well on their opening power play opportunity. But then the Leafs scored, and I envisioned an entire hockey team buried in the desert with just the tops of their helmets visible, struggling to free themselves while the weight of expectation forced them deeper...

Mark Bell scoring a mere 16 seconds after Ottawa's first power-play chance of the game looked to be the final clue which solved a season long mystery -- that the 2008 Senators are a team that is no better than ordinary, and their heroic start to the season was merely an anomaly that would keep them out of the too often mentioned "Stamkos Sweepstake" (sorry for contributing to the hype, Steve-o; good luck living up to the pressure! That’s not fair, I suppose, but this mildly-catchy name and the endless debate about tanking to win the draft lottery conjures memories of Alexandre Daigle, who currently has 13 G-notes for Davos).

However, Ottawa responded on their next PP (Heatley roof job from Spezza and Alfie), their first of SEVEN unanswered, which included three shorties, two of which came on the same kill. Antoine Vermette's point total (3 goals, 1 apple), for once, reflected the effort he puts in game in, game out, and when Chris Kelly returns, a line of Bass-Kelly-Vermette could be very effective. Spez played his standard great game, but really needs to work on his speed in the off-season; Heater played like a $7.5M player and needs to consistently deliver, starting in Boston tonight; and the D looked solid, but need to contribute more offensively for Ottawa to once again be considered a threat. And did anyone notice that Phillips didn't take a penalty at an inopportune time last night? Gerber was, well, Gerber -- as long as he isn't sliding out of the net completely, he once again showed he can be moderately effective. An 8-2 thrashing of a most-hated rival is a great way to begin the process of digging yourself out of trouble. The game was not all smiles, however.

Though Bell's goal didn't cost Ottawa the playoffs, his massive hit on Alfie (the back half of the Double Wow) may have. This was a cleaner, bigger version of the hit Neil laid on Chris Drury last season and could be potentially disastrous. Early reports have Alfie missing anywhere from a week to three weeks with a knee injury, but easily could have cost the Sens captain his season/career if his head hit the ice any harder. Did you see his helmet go flying!?!?!?! I was seriously speechless, and though for a moment he was having convulsions on the ice before it was clear he was just in "regular pain." Either way, when the announcers said he was done for the game and the injury looked to be worse than Mike Fisher's (oh, ya -- Fisher hurt his knee in a mid-ice collision in the first; it looked completely harmless, but the Fish has bad luck on the injury front. I would have mentioned in earlier, but he has driven me crazy over his career with both his injuries and his full-throttle style of play, and didn’t want to go off the deep end on him, which I am on the verge of doing now), I began picturing Randy Robitaille out there and started hyper-ventilating. I hope Dennis Hamel is available.

Long story short -- The Sens need to build off last night into tonight's game against a Bruins team that is also fighting for a playoff spot in the East, and this won't be easily accomplished without Alfredsson (or Fisher...I guess). All teams grow by over-coming adversary, and there is no time like game # 82 to start. The mystery continues...
Filed Under:   Vermette   playoffs   Senators   Ottawa   Alfredsson  
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