Unpredictable to the max: Senators
There’s a prevailing theme in Ottawa this season – you never know what you’re going to get. Results inconsistency has become a consistent . . . if you get what I’m cooking here.
Take the month of January to start. I know, I know, it’s been ridiculously busy with a whole three games in 17 days but let’s check out what we have here. It started with a 6-0 absolute dummying by the Toronto Maple Leafs on a way-out-of-sorts Senator club. Then, what would appear to be the suggestion of a continuation of the trend, a trip through rugged Alberta was in the periscope.
Well, if you’ve been paying attention, that trend buckled and broke as Ottawa slapped up a pair of well-tuned wins. First, the beleaguered pair of Nick Paul and (especially) Matt Murray clocked Calgary, 4-1. For Murray, it was his first win of the season. For Paul, it was two goals for a guy in need of production.
Up the road to Edmonton next and what was looking like an all-too familiar blowout shifted mightily in a turnaround third period. Ottawa skated home with a 6-4 triumph.
The Senators are hockey’s personification of doing the unexpected.
January’s been a microcosm of the entire season.
For instance in late November the team headed off to California for a three-pack – Anaheim, San Jose and the LA Kings. All three teams were considered (at the time) to be less than the gold standard. The result? Three Ottawa losses by a combined 14-5 tally.
Ugh. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.
Then the old switcheroo came with back-to-backs against the two remarkable Florida-based teams. Both are considered Stanley Cup contenders . . . I mean, they’re right up there. So the Senators go out and trounce both. First Tampa at home, 4-0, then Florida away, 8-2. 8-to-fricking-2. In their barn. In-their-barn!
If Ottawa could bottle that the rest of the way we wouldn’t be talking (yet again) about the draft lottery. But that’s the difficulty with young teams where consistency is not a regular dance partner.
The Ottawa Senators: A PROLINE bet you just don’t want to take.
THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: This does not compute. Sidney Crosby gets cross-checked and hacked and Pittsburgh execs Ron Hextall and Brian Burke do zippo to address it . . . "We require, as a team, proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. That's how our teams play," said Burke in 2008 whilst heading the Toronto Maple Leafs . . . God help us if Brian Burke is ‘woke’ . . . Say what you want about the Leafs – and I know you will because I know what you’re like – but this is a fun team to watch, night in and night out; No lead is safe, from either side of the equation, theirs or ours . . . In a perfect yet impossible scenario, Tom Hanks would play Jack Campbell in Jack’s biopic. Two exceedingly nice gentlemen . . . Suddenly in a parallel-universe type storyline, the rival Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are in trouble . . . Who the heck were those imposters in Florida jerseys that were torn about by rebuilding Ottawa 8-2 in December? Since then the Panthers are 8-2, and now lead the league standings . . . ‘Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.’ Oh, hey there New England Patriots. Thanks for stopping in . . . Wasn’t it great though for Buffalo to shake off that little-brother image? . . . Not that the NFL requires any extra publicity but wouldn’t a Bills Super Bowl win jack up further attention for its Canadian viewership (rhetorical) . . . When your best player is your punter in a playoff game, likely you’re not getting far. Good afternoon Dallas . . . The Dallas-San Fran final minute felt like your average NBA game. It took about an hour of real time to get it done . . . Feel-good story – the Cincinnati Bengals ending a 31-year playoff drought . . . Cincy’s loss to the LA Raiders the week after its last playoff victory was noteworthy for being Bo Jackson’s final NFL game. Bo fractured a hip and never played again. The Bengals’ horrible and subsequent playoff run was thus hailed as the ‘Curse of Bo Jackson’ . . . My favourite quote from Netflix’s just-returned After Life (Ricky Gervais): “Good people do things for other people. That’s it. The end.” Lovely.
SENATORS WEEK AHEAD:
Tuesday, Jan. 18: Buffalo at Ottawa (7 pm)
Thursday, Jan. 20: Ottawa at Pittsburgh (7 pm)
Saturday, Jan. 22: Ottawa at Washington (7 pm)
Sunday, Jan. 23: Ottawa at Columbus (6 pm)
Photo: Courtesy NHL.com