Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Flyers Pivotal In Ottawa's Struggles

On January 20, 2008, the Ottawa Senators went into Philadelphia having won 5 of their last 8 games and were firmly entrenched in the number one position in the Eastern Conference.

That game was hyped even more by the fact that the Senators, for the first time this season, had a chance to say something to Steve Downie who was back in the lineup after nearly decapitating Dean McAmmond in the pre-season with a flying elbow the likes of which are usually reserved for the WWE and the Japanese parliament.

Strangely, the Senators didn’t even put a mitt on Downie in a 6-1 loss and the only fight of the game was a lopsided decision in Riley Cote’s favour against the Senators Brian McGrattan. Some people questioned the Senators heart after such a poor showing of toughness and John Paddock was on the record lauding praise upon Steve Downie while Dean McAmmond languished on the fourth line getting little to no ice time. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Since that notorious match, the Ottawa Senators have only won 4 times in 12 games and the lead they once held in the Eastern Conference has dwindled to zero heading into tonight’s re-match with the Flyers. The goaltending has collapsed under Paddock’s ridiculous “win and your in” rotation system and the whole team looks uninspired and directionless under Paddock’s tutelage. Even the local media who enjoyed a lengthy honeymoon with the new coach are starting to ask questions in this week’s papers.

Some might say that Philly game was a turning point in the season for the Senators. Perhaps they would like to reverse that downward trend tonight against the team that might have put them in the death spiral to start with.

According to reports, there will be no Steve Downie tonight so the Senators will be able to concentrate solely on hockey. But those poor showings of character and grit don’t wash away easily.

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