Thanks to a certain Michael Fisher Portnoy III, Tim and I had the luxury of attending last night's game against the Washington Capitals. (Ed. note: Tim's the guy who used to write here. Apparently he's neglected his duties for the past little while because he wanted to follow in Mike Fisher's footsteps and build some churches in Bolivia. Or fight some guerrillas in Burma. Or tour in some 7-piece glam rock band. I can't really remember, the details are lost on me.)
Anyways, here are my thoughts from last night's game...
- We arrived at the rink early to enjoy two events -- the pre-game state and the walk around the main concourse to do a little people watching. It's always fun to walk around and check out all the retro-swag that people are rocking to the game. Unfortunately, there was none. For a franchise as rich in bizarre character as the Washington Capitals, I was blown away by the complete disregard for tradition by what can only be described as an absurd number of frontrunning Caps fans. That being said, having gone to the Pittsburgh game, I should have been better prepared for last night's swarm of Ovechkin fanboys. But I'll at least give frontrunning Penguins fans credit, at least they'll resurface wearing their Jagr and Lemieux jerseys now that Crosby, Malking and company are winning again.
- Keeping with the jersey theme: Where the hell were the Langway, Kevin Hatcher or Al Iafrate jerseys? Even a Dmitri Khristich jersey would have been mildly entertaining. At least fans didn't have to notice any Bondra jerseys to be reminded of another botched Muckler trade. (We had Brooks Laich for that.) Instead we endured numerous #8 sightings where frat boy friends dressed up in matching Ovechkin home and away jerseys. Cute.
- I threw out the question of how one becomes a Caps fan in Ottawa. Tim hypothesized that Ottawa-area Caps fans weren't loved enough as kids and grew up to be degenerates who needed something to feel good about. On cue, a Caps fan walked by styling a wet pony-tail, a red Caps jersey, a black jean jacket and black Adidas track pants that were tucked into his steel-toed boots. Suffice it to say, Tim was feeling pretty proud of himself for his bold prediction.
- While we didn't get a chance to see any cool retro swag, we did get an opportunity to see TSN's Brent Wallace before the start of the first period. Although we were tempted to say hello and ask him to send our best wishes to Don Brennan, we wussed out and made our way to our seats instead.
- After watching a significant portion of the pre-game skate, an elderly man in an Alfie jersey made his way up the aisle and before even sitting down, proceeded to tell us his life story. Apparently he was a music teacher at Earl of March who once taught Mike Eaves (Patrick's father). I didn't realize that there was even a local connection to the Eaves family. Mind you, the man was such a good story teller that everything could have been completely fabricated and I wouldn't care.
- Some may blame Ottawa's slow start on giving a good Washington team too much credit. Others may blame it on the players for not outworking their opponent. I'll lay some of the blame at the in-game entertainment employees who tried to inspire the team during the pre-game skate by playing Linkin Park, Green Day and Nickelback songs consecutively.
- Ottawa's defencemen were repeatedly getting caught being too high in the defensive zone. If not for some fortuitous saves by Elliott, some missed shots and one post by Ovechkin, Ottawa would have been down big after two periods. They were simply shredding Ottawa's defensive coverage with cross ice passes in the offensive zone.
- I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that one Ottawa player was playing well through two lackluster periods. Peter Regin was far and away the best player on the ice for the Senators. He was simply killing it out there. Now may be a good time for me to pimp an interview that this website once had with Charles Berglund, Regin's Swedish Elite League Coach.
- Jason Spezza on the other hand was playing like he was Chris Chelios' age. Last night's game may have been the worst I've seen him play in ages. I'm not sure if his back is still bothering him, but he looked like he was playing hurt. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
- Mike Fisher caved Pascal Leclaire's face in with an errant dump in during the second period. TSN is reporting that Leclaire will be out for up to four weeks recovering from a fractured cheekbone. The timing of his injury couldn't be worse. Not only are the Senators starting to win consistently but Leclaire was showing some noticeable improvement after some recent struggles.
- The second period ended and a fan sitting below us stood up and revealed a customized Sens jersey that featured the #69 and a nameplate with Apollo written on it. This bothered Tim and I for the duration of the second intermission.
- The second line of Ryan Shannon, Regin and Fisher completely dominated the Capitals during the third period. It will be interesting to see how Cory Clouston juggles the lines once Kovalev comes back since the first line of Alfie, Spezza and Michalek has struggled to put up points at even strength.
- Watching Washington struggle in the third was like watching a boxer who had punched himself out early in the fight. Having played three games in four nights, they were gased by the end of the game. In the last few minutes of the third, they had collapsed into a full Jacques Martin sit on the lead mode.
- I'm not saying that there's a correlation between Dany Heatley's absence and the Senators playing a more blue-collar style, but for the first time that I can remember, Ottawa has consistently had traffic in front of the net and it's starting to pay dividends. The Neil and Picard goals were the direct result of traffic that obscured Semyon Varlamov's view.
- Before OT started, Tim and I picked our scorers. He picked Fisher, I picked Alfie. Tim remarked how he had never seen a live shootout, I told him that it wasn't going to a shootout, this one would end in OT.
- When Fisher redirected Phillips' pass past Varlamov, he exchanged high-fives with everyone around him. Including the elderly fan with the Alfie who Tim high-fived with such a force that he nearly knocked the man backwards down the aisle.
- Dear Ms. Underwood, whatever you've done to Mike Fisher. Thank you. I don't know how to explain it, Mike Fisher's always had the tools, but has never really been able to put it all together. For whatever reason, the game has slowed down for him offensively and he's gained the confidence to hold onto the puck for that extra half-second and he's making better decisions with the puck. He's finally broken his robotic and vicious cycle of: skating as fast as he can, shooting as fast as he can with his 1,523mph wrister (Gord Wilson TM) that misses the net, skating as fast as he can to retrieve the puck, hit the defender to regain possession of the puck and repeat.
- And finally, enough can't be said about Chris Phillips' shift in overtime. From pinching Ovechkin off along the sideboards with a Volchenkov like hit to skating the length of the ice to feed Fisher on a two-on-one, it was the perfect ending to an entertaining last 25 minutes of play.
Finally, here's the teaser that I had promised on our Twitter account. If you're not a regular follower of The 6th Sens on Twitter, I suggest you start now.