Ottawa Senators (18-14-4) vs Flightless Birds (25-11-1) @ the Igloo Mellon Arena, 7pm Eastern Time; Television: Rogers Sportsnet
One of my favorite memories as a child was standing in line with my father waiting with all of the other Senators fans to claim our season tickets over at the Ottawa Senators main offices on Moodie Drive. Even though it was a long process, it was an exciting place to be. Everyone in line was decked in Senators swag -- fans were donning Senators pins, jerseys or t-shirts. I sported the white Senators jersey that featured the Parliamentary logo and was used to promote the return of the Senator to the nation's capital. And to this day, that jersey is still hanging up in my closet.
I remember my first Senators fan experience like it was yesterday and two things in particular stand out. One, I can recall the hours spent waiting in line before my father could finally put in a claim on which seats he wanted at the Civic Center. As a child, long waits were the worst. I could not stand them. Think of Mike Fisher's lack of patience with the puck last year and multiply that by about 150. In a nutshell, that was me.
Secondly, I remember the genuine and almost child-like enthusiasm that my father had for the entire duration of the wait in line and how it made the wait worthwhile for me as a young child. In retrospect, I can't recall ever seeing my father this enthusiastic. He loved the game of hockey. Just loved it. But his enthusiasm for buying tickets went beyond the game, I think he also relished the opportunity to buy a block of four seats and split the cost with his best friend and older brother. It also worked out favourably for me because my dad's brother had a son who was the same age as myself. I knew that if my cousin and uncle were going to a game, the likelihood of me going to the game with my dad was greater.
I remember that for one game in 1995, the four of us attended a game at the Civic Center in which the Senators ran a promotion for the upcoming Jean Claude Van Damme movie, Sudden Death. At the conclusion of the game, the Civic Center staff weren't handing out individual posters, they were handing out boxes of posters. They couldn't get rid of these things quickly enough. My cousin and I didn't care though, we grabbed as many posters as we could. Forget Crosby, Jagr, Lemieux and Malkin, I still consider the most memorable moment in Penguins franchise history to be when Jean Claude Van Damme's character, Darren McCord, averted a terrorist threat by stopping a penalty shot that was awarded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
As is the norm on game day, here is my prediction that is featured as part of James Gordon's Ottawa Citizen Prediction Panel (that will eventually be posted some time today)...
The matchup between the Penguins and Senators should be labelled as the Battle of the Badly Abbreviated Team Names. The return of Chris Neil will hopefully light a spark under a team that needed one after a listless third period against the Bruins and to further that thought, I hope he avenges Matt Cooke's hit on Shean Donovan. Neil's not the only returnee to the lineup, Pascal Leclaire should make his first start in weeks and hopefully he'll be a little more cognizant of where the puck is on the ice.
No one has Tweeted any lineup updates thus far, but what I do know is that Pascal Leclaire will make his first start in weeks and Chris Neil will be returning as well. I'd imagine that it's likely that Neil will assume Josh Hennessey's slot on the fourth line.
Depressing Quote From Yesterday
"I don't know. I can't really control what the fans are doing, if they're booing me or not. I played hard when I played for Ottawa, I always did my best and the organization, at that time, chose Wade Redden and I was fine with that and I had to move on. So when they decided to sign Wade instead of me, I had to move on and obviously management back then — John Muckler and company — they made it look like I went for the money, but that wasn't the case. Basically I liked my chances and options that I had in Boston and that's why I chose Boston and I still believe in that and it's just too bad that they made it look, to the fans and to the public, like I went for the money." ~ Zdeno Chara, Hockey Capital
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X-Mas Edition of the Podcast
I'm hoping to edit and post the podcast that Tim and I recorded sometime later today or early tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that.