Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sens vs Refs In Beantown.... Andy Still On Vacation.... And AC/DC Fuelled Game Notes
Boston 4 Ottawa 3
It was all there in coach Paul MacLean's screaming red face after the final whistle had blown.
It was there in Jason Spezza's dismissive wave to the refs just seconds before that.
The Ottawa Senators feel they are getting jobbed by the officiating, before and after the break, and they couldn't contain their disgust any longer, even if it gives the refs just more reason to punish them.
As of this writing, it's not clear how much complaining the Senators will do to the media after a game where the Senators didn't get a single power-play against the meanest, edgiest team in the league (.....please), but I'm guessing Craig Anderson's embarrassing centre-ice goal flub that handed the Bruins the game won't get the same attention it normally would.
The fans have a lot of ammo to throw out in the next few days, but the reality is that the Senators inexplicably fell flat with a 3-1 lead heading into the final minute of the second period. Sure, the refs seemed hellbent on further repaying MacLean back for that public airing of the Erik Karlsson "diver" incident before the All-Star break, but when the Bruins raised their game, the Senators didn't really have an answer. In fact, they looked intimidated for long stretches of the third period and it took a few strong shifts by captain Daniel Alfredsson late in the period to get their legs moving again.
I did my best lip reading routine on what MacLean was screaming but the only words I could make out were "bullshit", "f**k off", "f**k you" and "baloney tits". That last one makes me think I'm not that good at lip reading, but it must have been something pretty good because assistant coach Mark Reeds was trying to haul MacLean down off the bench by his elbow before he really did say something stupid.
It will be interesting to see which gets more play on Wednesday morning - the refs or Anderson's Chris Osgood moment - but the Senators have now lost 4 in a row and the poor streak goes deeper than just a bad goal or a few missed calls. No one is saying the rot has set in - the losses have come under less than ideal conditions like a long road trip and immediately after an extended break - but now they have to rack up some points during the coming homestand against a few weaker teams or else the real questions will start to pop up for which there won't be any convenient excuses like refereeing.
The good news for Ottawa fans is that Alfredsson looks like he's 30 years old coming out of his deserved weekend in the spotlight and Kyle Turris seems poised to hit another level due to the obvious chemistry he's building with the captain. That line will be fun to watch in Kanata over the next couple of weeks against the likes of the Islanders, Leafs and Oilers.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Daniel Alfredsson
2. Kyle Turris
3. Sergei Gonchar
Honourable Mentions: Erik Karlsson and Colin Greening,
Dean Brown certainly has a way with words. He described the Senators as coming out “hot and hard” in the first two minutes of the first. I guess that's better than "hot and heavy". Or is it?..... You have to like Zdeno Chara giving Jason Spezza a healthy shove in the back after the first whistle near the Boston net. It was his genuine way of saying the camaraderie of the All-Star Game was nice and everything, but he’s now going back to his favourite pastime of burying lanky centremen in the blue paint..... It’s strange that we’ve come to expect Erik Karlsson to regularly make the kind of plays like when he raced back and stole a scoring chance from Brad Marchand after the aggravating winger found an open seam towards the net in the first. There can’t be another player who can wheel back into his own zone like Karlsson can and catch guys without taking penalties. It’s something Sens fans will be glad to take for granted…. Sergei Gonchar, another fine skater, wasn’t so lucky when he had to haul down Marchand on a similar play just minutes later. The Big Z cranked one of those famous slappers home on the ensuing power-play for Boston's first goal. It seems Jared Cowen had certainly watched Chara break the hardest shot record at the skills competition on TV back home in Saskatchewan. If Cowen hadn’t jumped out of the way, Chara’s shot would have probably hit him in the leg and bounced into the corner (or into outer space). But can you really blame Cowen? It's entirely possible the puck would have shattered like the fake puck Patrick Kane used in his last shot of the Silly Goal Competition, and Cowen's leg might have shattered along with it.....
Has anyone seen Zack Smith lately? He's missing and there are no clues..... Two epic scraps in the first period sort of made it clear that the Bruins and the Senators are the two toughest teams in the East, if not the West as well. It’s working for the Bruins obviously and it’s working pretty well for the Senators this year as well. The difference is that no one in their sane mind takes cheap shots at Boston’s skilled players while guys like Alfredsson and Karlsson have taken a few this year. The Bruins have a reputation for not taking shit. The Senators not so much. Maybe Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli sat through those years in the Senators front office when they were getting pushed around by the Leafs and decided he’d never let that happen if he ever got control of a team. Mission accomplished….. Geez, I thought I was a fight fan but Jason York of Sportsnet was channeling his inner Ultimate Warrior when joyfully describing the series of bouts after the first period. He said he loved that the Bruins didn’t need to but “they’ll fight you anyways”…. Speaking of the Ultimate Warrior, remember how he used to run up to the ring, grab the ropes and proceed to thrash the living shit out of them in some sort of crazed heavy metal seizure? How much cocaine and steroids are needed to work yourself up into that kind of state? I'd probably need about one cocaine. That's how it's measured right?....
.....At first I thought it was sleep deprivation warping my senses and causing me to hear things that just weren’t being said, but as time wore on, I realized I wasn’t crazy - at least not yet by modern medical standards. No, in fact I was driving around the wilds of Kanata on Monday listening to the mid-morning show on the Team 1200 and fans were calling and emailing in strange ramblings that could only come from unbalanced minds on the brink of collapse and permanent damage. They were ripping players for their plus/minus in the All Star Game. They were angry at Tim Thomas for selfishly stopping a Daniel Alfredsson shot that denied him a hat trick. They were detecting weaknesses in Henrik Lundqvist’s glove hand from an exhibition game of shinny hockey. My hands gripped the steering wheel tight in fear that the repeated blunt force trauma of idiocy would cause me to lose concentration and end up at a Tim Hortons drive-thru ordering a dozen Boston Creme doughnuts and one big straw. Thankfully I was able to keep one hand on the wheel and use the other to turn radio dial off. It was a close call, my friends, and I don’t want to talk about it anymore than I have to…. Now here I go being two-faced and ripping something I don’t like about the All-Star game. The NHLPA should demand that there isn’t a “last player chosen” scenario at following player drafts. Don Cherry is right. It embarrasses the players and not just the guys picked in the last few rounds. Even nice guy Jarome Iginla called the whole process “awkward”. It’s completely unnecessary and is now just a chance for everyone on Twitter to be ultra-condescending at best, downright vicious at worst. Phil Kessel took it harder on the chin than Logan Couture but I don’t see any positives out of watching a guy be humbled in some schoolyard game of popularity that's forced on the players. Keep the player draft but throw sticks or something for the last six guys. Anything would be better than watching a proud athlete squirm. Then again, some people get their kicks out of that kind of thing. The players say they don’t care, but you know damn well they do…..
..... Still weird to see Chris Kelly wearing #23….. He’s not exactly Jonathan Cheechoo or Bill Muckalt, but Bobby Butler is colder than the concrete steps outside my front door. It’s tough to score when he can’t hit the net, even after getting a perfect pass into the slot with no Bruin near him for at least two steamboats. The shot Butler has is so deceptive when he’s confident. It’s a shame to see it go to waste right now….. Okay, now I’m officially done with the Tim Thomas controversy. I was one of the people calling him a whack job but people have come down so hard on him that it’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy. It was lame, but it doesn’t mean you have to bury the guy day after day. Some have gone so overboard in their reaction (see Jack Todd and Dave Hodge) that it makes you uncomfortable to have to side with them. What this all tells you is that there's no place for politics in the NHL. It’s escapist entertainment to the core and when you mess with the formula, whack jobs come out from every side. True, Thomas is the one who made this “political” in the first place but there’s no more fruit to pick on this story unless the Bruins decide to trade him this season, something not many can see happening. I’d almost rather talk about concussions at this point than I would Thomas and his strange Tea Party ramblings….
..... Name a song that never seem to get old at hockey games? This is a rare beast, as there are only about 20 songs in rotation in any given arena in the entire world, but AC/DC’s Back In Black still sounds as swinging as when it was recorded in 1980 and kicked people's heads off. Case in point was a grizzled Bruins fan behind the Boston bench closing his eyes in rocking meditation as those riffs kicked in. Maybe he was just stoned (almost certainly, even if it was just a food coma from the two plates of arena nachos) but it’s hard not to do the same when you hear that song count off. It's a perfectly recorded guitar album, in contrast to the ultra-compressed and brittle crap that passes for guitars in modern productions. But, by God, this is a hockey blog isn’t it?