SENATORS: A Week in Review – March 27-April 3, 2017
SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators hockey written by OLMSports Dave Gross.
Feature photo by NHLI via Getty Images
It's the last waltz of the evening at the high school dance.
Stairway to Heaven starts to roll.
Who you going to ask to sway and whirl with you?
In the case of the Ottawa Senators, there still remain options.
With just eight games left in the regular season (including Tuesday night's tilt in Philly), the Senators remain unsure of who they'll open up against when the playoffs 'swing' into action.
Fact is, there is still a possibility Ottawa remains a wallflower and misses the post-season – but this is highly unlikely as pointed out in this space last week.
But back to the possibilities, and let's focus on the juiciest of dance partners.
How 'bout a trip down memory lane and into the Battle of Ontario?
Certainly sounds more intriguing than, say, facing the Boston Bruins (and praise the Lord that Carolina is pretty much out of this picture, yawn).
If the NHL playoffs were to start today, well folks, it'd be Toronto versus Ottawa.
For the uninitiated, the clubs met four times in five seasons between 1999 and 2004. For the uninitiated Part II, Toronto won all four of those series with the last defeat costing Jacques Martin his job.
But the days of Darcy Tucker and Travis Green and Tie Domi and Curtis Joseph matching wits and jabs with Patty Lalime and Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden and Shane Hnidy are but a low blinking light on the horizon.
(A little trivia: Can you name the only player from that era that would be a part of this potential match-up – answer at the top of Notes and Notions?)
The prospect that another go 'round would compete with the same level of nastiness is a remote one. The game has changed as has the make-up of rosters – there would be no 'Domi's' in this set-to.
Would it be fractious and razor-edged competitive? Without question.
Ottawa and Toronto are two of the top-skating clubs in the league. Given that both coaches relish a first-to-the-puck, aggressive blend, the body banging would be first-rate.
The storylines would be tasty too.
Imagine a head-to-head between all-world blueliner Erik Karlsson and all-world rookie Auston Matthews; a challenge of the dazzlers between William Nylander and Kyle Turris; a netminder clash between two of the best in Craig Anderson and Frederik Andersen; a meeting of the minds between Guy Boucher and Mike Babcock.
Of course, this is all speculative at this point, but if the hockey gods are smiling they'll give us this little chunk of dynamite come playoff time.
NOTES AND NOTIONS: That'd be Chris Neil – the last remaining survivor of the original Battle of Ontario playoff encounter . . . I'll say this about the Sidney Crosby slash: Should have received a penalty but no suspension. That type of slash happens 30 times a game. Check the tape of any game and you'll bear witness. As for Crosby being a whiner? Give me a break. Sure, if you're talking 10 years ago. He's cleaned up his act since then . . . Tongue-in-cheek: Ottawa might consider sitting Mark Stone for Saturday's game – seems every time he faces Winnipeg, it's a colossal injury . . . Tweet of the week goes to TSN 1200's Steve Lloyd. After pests Alex Burrows and Montreal's Andrew Shaw tussled, Lloyd wrote: "That Burrows/Shaw fight brought to you by Raid." . . . I know it's not hockey, but it's played on ice, so a hearty congratulations to Ottawa's Rachel Homan and rink for capturing their first world curling championship on Sunday . . . If the Leafs lose goalie Andersen (upper body, left Saturday night's game in the first) for any length of time, they're sunk. All the gab about Matthews and Mitch Marner and Willy Nylander is just that. Fact is, Andersen (after a rough start) has been Toronto's most valuable player.
WEEK THAT WAS:
Tuesday: Ottawa 3, Boston 2
Thursday: Ottawa 2, Pittsburgh 1 (SO)
Saturday: Montreal 3, Ottawa 1
Tuesday: Ottawa at Philadelphia (7 pm)
Thursday: Ottawa at Minnesota (8 pm)
Saturday: Ottawa at Winnipeg (7 pm)