You have to feel for these Ottawa Senators.
They played with heart and gusto but were ultimately let down by their anemic fans and some uneven goaltending by rookie Brian Elliott.
Not that Elliott played an overall bad game, but he simply had to have two of those regulation goals back and he didn't look good in the shootout where the Senators had no chance (and you could sense that going in).
Regardless, Elliott is a work in progress and he made some really good saves as well, especially with a lightning quick glove hand that the fans haven't seen in these parts since Dominik Hasek. For now, fans will just have to be patient while he learns on the job.
And speaking of the fans, what a brutal display that was by the Senators faithful last night. The captain was booed and Jason Spezza was hissed at (probably by a few Sens fans as well) and there was only one or two pathetic Go Sens Go chants against the constant onslaught of Habs cheering.
Obviously the red and black fans were outnumbered by the red and blue (as Blood Red Army points out) but that's because Sens fans didn't bother to buy tickets to last night's game, something that is always going to be a problem because of the low season-ticket base here in town. Due to the high volume of game-day stubs on sale, any other city's fans can invade Ottawa's arena at will.
That's what happened last night. Not to belabour the point but why is it that Ottawa has the weakest set of fans compared to the other 5 Canadian franchises? I would even put 4 or 5 American NHL markets ahead of sleepy Ottawa when it comes to fan support. The Senators have been in town since 1992 but all Ottawa fans can agree on is that skill players are always the cause of the team's troubles, since the days of Yashin and Daigle on into Spezza and Heatley.
It's not just the numbers of butts in the seats in Ottawa, it's the hockey IQ as well. Just listen to the Team 1200's Over The Edge radio show if you want to expose the mindset of the typical Ottawa fan. Habs fans might be obnoxious but they have the brains not to constantly run their best players out of town.
It was amusing to catch Brian Lee on camera in the penalty box with under a minute remaining in the tie game. It was easy to read his lips as he stared up at the time clock. He was saying over and over again "Come on boys. Come on boys." Lucky for him, the Senators easily killed off the penalty. Lee basically saved the point for the Senators as the Montreal player was in alone on Elliott and Lee was forced to deliver the hook. That's called a "good penalty" and teams seem more eager to kill those off than the lazy ones. ....... If Tampa is ready to unload some big money players, there should be a lot of takers for Martin St. Louis. He will make a very affordable 4 million over the next two years while still being an electrifying player. Ottawa has bigger problems to fix on defense right now but St. Louis would look pretty good in red and black for the next two seasons. Strangely enough, St. Louis tried out for the Senators in 1997 but was deemed too small for the NHL and cut by then GM Pierre Gauthier and coach Jacques Martin. But that was when you needed to be a linebacker to play in the clutch and grab league. ...... Not sure why Craig Hartsburg has Alex Picard on the first power play unit instead of Brian Lee. Picard doesn't have much poise or a shot to be there on a consistent basis. But obviously Hartsburg sees something in Picard. I wonder what it could be.......
The Penguins absolutely stole Mathieu Garon from the Oilers this weekend. Unbelievably, Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe have decided to place their season in the hands of Dwayne Roloson. What the hell are the Oilers going to do next year with no number one goalie? No one seems to be confident in Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers being able to take the next step but that sort of uncertainty has never stopped the Oilers from making boneheaded moves in the past...... Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov all received votes in the list of the Globe and Mail's "First Half All-Disappointment Team". Hard to believe Antoine Vermette didn't make that list....... Islanders GM Garth Snow is taking a lot of heat for losing Wade Dubliewicz on waivers to Columbus just one day after trying to bring him back from Europe.
"It had been reported that Dubielewicz had garnered the interests of as many as three NHL teams. To a smart GM, that means it is time to back off. There is no chance that if you sign Dubielewicz you could get him through waivers. One of the other teams would claim him. Garth Snow is not one of those smart GMs. He didn’t see the warning signs. "
Don't miss Ian Mendes recent column at Sportsnet where Bryan Murray puts the brakes on speculation that Spezza is about to be traded.
"He's a good player on this hockey club. I don't know how you acquire another guy like this if you trade him away," continued Murray. "My intent is not to do that. I think the core here is a good core. We just have to help them a little bit in a couple areas."