Archive for August, 2008
Pop quiz, hotshot. The NHL team you own has 47 forwards under contract and only three defencemen. The normal roster for an NHL team is 13 forwards, seven defencemen, and two goaltenders. You are obviously in desperate need of defencemen. What do you do? What. Do. You. Do?
If you are the Tampa Bay Lightning, you trade two of your defencemen (namely, Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard) to the Senators to get one defenceman (Andrej Meszaros) back. That seems logical. If you failed grade 1 math.
The Lightning seem to be careening around with no particular destination or plan guiding them at the moment, just the whim of a madman telling them they’ve got to keep going or they’ll die. The result is that there is simply no place for logic in Tampa Bay right now. In this situation, logic is the lady who tried to get off the bus when they brought out the stretcher for the driver who’d been shot. You remember what happened to her.
But I am feeling pretty okay about the death of logic at the moment, since it seems to be benefiting the Sens. In this case, we are getting more bodies by spending less money and losing a player who was kinda starting to bring back some unpleasant Yashin-esque memories with this whole cash grab thing he had going on. Also coming to the Sens in the deal is a first round pick, formerly San Jose’s. I’m got a feeling the Sharks may not do very well this year, so who knows? That could turn out to be a reasonably high pick.
TSN is reporting that Meszaros will likely sign a six-year deal with the Lightning, worth $4 million per year.
This has been a pretty interesting story over the last couple of days. First, there was Bryan Murray’s press conference, at which he told reporters that the talks with Meszaros were still going nowhere. A few hours later came a Hockey News story that Meszaros had signed an offer sheet with an unnamed team, and then today we started to hear this talk about Tampa, and the offer sheet that couldn’t exist due to Tampa’s third round pick already having gone to Pittsburgh, and Ray Shero’s apparent unwillingness to be even remotely involved with an RFA offer sheet. Finally, we get this trade.
Personally, I’m very happy to see that something has finally happened with Meszaros. This whole stalemate situation was getting old, and I think it was preventing BM the GM from putting the finishing touches on the roster for this season. Now, with the additions of Kuba and Picard (a Gatineau native), the defence suddenly looks much deeper. The two of them combined make a little less than Meszaros is reportedly getting from the Lightning, which makes the cap situation look a whole lot brighter. I can’t say that I know a whole lot about either Kuba or Picard, but from the sounds of it Kuba has fairly decent offensive skills. He’s also really big. Picard, meanwhile, is only 23 years old (a few months older than Meszaros), has just over a season’s worth of NHL experience, and scored 38 points in 53 games with the Flyers’ AHL team last season. Whether he can produce in the NHL is definitely a question, but it’s also far from certain that Meszaros is ever going to live up to the promise he showed as a rookie and I would not have wanted to see the Sens pay him $4 million per year while they waited to find out.
The question that pops into my mind now that this is done is: are there any top six forwards left? Is there anyone alive out there? Hello? Maybe if Mats Sundin would just make up his flippin’ mind already, some of the other NHL pieces would fall into place.
I’ve spent much of the weekend trying to get myself ready to go back to school. I’ll be leaving the rainy climes of Ottawa next Saturday, heading back to the perhaps equally rainy city of Vancouver. Let me tell you, this packing stuff is a job of work, and I realized today that I’ll have to mail some of my stuff back to myself because it won’t all fit in my suitcases. And one of my suitcases is a hockey bag. Clearly, someone made too many trips to the Gap this summer.
Anyway, in the absence of any Sens news or hockey books to post about, here is part two of the 100 Things About Me thing I started about two weeks ago. Today, you will learn about raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, and a few of my other favourite things.
100 Things About Me – Episode II: Things I Love (Besides Hockey)
31. I am a huge, huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I firmly believe it to be The Greatest TV Show Ever Created. I often quote the show (in fact I did so above) and can name all the episodes in order. I once went all the way to Nashville, Tennessee to present a paper at an academic Buffy Studies conference, and I own a bag with the word “Buffyologist” printed on it. Buffy is one of my heroes.
32. I also love Buffy‘s spinoff, Angel, and consider it to be The Second Greatest TV Show Ever Created. Such is my love of Angel the character that I started watching Bones solely because David Boreanaz is on it. Angel’s series finale, “Not Fade Away,” is, I’m pretty sure, the best series finale ever shot. Six Feet Under‘s last episode, “Everyone’s Waiting,” is the only one that comes close to it, if you ask me.
33. Perhaps you could see this one coming: Joss Whedon is one of my favourite people, and I’m also a big Firefly and Serenity fan. I was ridiculously excited for about a whole week before Serenity opened. My good friend Cocoa and I went to see it on opening night. We own matching Jayne hats, knitted for us by our other friend and fellow Firefly geek, the awesome Sner.
34. I have watched all three Joss shows over and over, and love marathoning them. If there’s a Joss marathon on TV, I’m there. The aforementioned Sner and Cocoa and I, along with Doc and a few other friends, once voted on our favourite Buffy episodes and then sat down for a 12-episode marathon. I also participated in a group re-watch of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly — we watched an episode per day, and we alternated between Buffy and Angel during the seasons when both were on the air — with a few of my close online friends. I’ve also got my mother to watch all three shows. When she started Firefly, she kept saying, “I don’t know about this whole ‘space western’ thing.” By the time we finished it was “I don’t understand why this show got cancelled!!” Neither do I, mom.
35. U2 has been my favourite band since I was about 14. I’ve seen them play live five times, and each time it’s been amazing. “Where the Streets Have No Name” is my favourite song and I’d have to say that some of my best ever experiences have been being in the crowd when they’ve played that song.
36. I once saw Bono on the street! Well, I didn’t just run into him. I went downtown specifically to see him, but still. He was in Ottawa for an announcement about aid for Africa. I didn’t meet him, but when he was getting into his car he made a peace sign, and I’m pretty sure he was looking at me. Oh yeah! After Bono went away, I saw George Stroumboulopoulos, so I went to ask him if MuchMusic was covering the press conference. He was talking on his cellphone when I approached him but he gestured for me to wait. I heard his end of the conversation and gradually realized he was actually talking to Bono. When George hung up, I said “You didn’t let me say hi!!” I was joking, but George apologized, even though, really, I was being very rude. I thought he was a very nice guy.
37. I saw Titanic in theatre 11 times. Yes, I was that girl. I still think it’s a great movie. Screw you!
38. When I was in high school, I loved the Smashing Pumpkins. I had one of those ZERO shirts and everything. They won my heart when I saw them play live at Scotiabank Place (then the Corel Centre) and they did “Thru the Eyes of Ruby,” which was my favourite song of theirs. I don’t listen to them as much anymore, but “Cherub Rock” is my favourite song to play on guitar in Rock Band. I kick ass at it!
39. I was a total grunge kid when that was popular. I had babydoll dresses like Courtney Love had, and flannel shirts and Doc Martens. I still remember how I found out that Kurt Cobain had died, and I think of it every year on the anniversary.
40. On a related note, I used to be able to calm myself down when I’d have an attack of nerves by listening to “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam on a loop. Yeah, I’m not really sure why that worked.
41. For a few years, I was totally obsessed with the Manic Street Preachers. My first major attempt at a website was a Manics fansite. I started wearing lots of eyeliner and even some leopard print.
42. Radiohead is my favourite band that isn’t U2. Thom Yorke’s voice is one of my very favourite sounds, and they rarely come up with a song I don’t like.
43. I love The Verve, and they are the only one of my favourite bands I’ve never seen play live. I was excited when they got back together because I thought I might get a chance to go to a show, but it hasn’t happened so far.
44. I am a Harry Potter fanatic. I took the Harry Potter course at Carleton when I was in fourth year and got to present my paper at the Children’s Literature Association conference. My final paper for my Master’s was a comparison of Buffy and Harry Potter (which, incidentally, now that both series are over, I think was pretty much dead on). Before the final book in the series came out, I counted how many chapters there were total in the first six books and planned it out so I cold re-read them one chapter per day and finish on the day Deathly Hallows was released. Did I mention I was a geek?
45. During the summer I spent writing that epic paper on Buffy and Harry, I nearly went mental. I will never try to write a thesis of any kind ever again! The only thing that kept me from losing my mind completely was taking frequent dance breaks every day, during which I would listen to and sing along with the first three tracks of Oasis’ album Heathen Chemistry. “Hung in a Bad Place” became my essay-writing theme song. That August, I went to see Oasis play in Montreal, rocked out, and felt totally reinvigorated afterwards. I can honestly say that Oasis saved my sanity.
46. I’m a huge Tori Amos fan. She is my most-listened artist on my Last.fm profile because I never get tired of her. She is a genius: very strange, but very brilliant.
47. Tori and Joss used their combined powers to get me into comics — Tori by making frequent references to Neil Gaiman and the Sandman series, and Joss by writing Fray, which was set in the Buffyverse. Neil Gaiman is now one of my favourite authors, and I highly recommend anything he’s written. I find that I sometimes have more interesting dreams when I’ve been hanging out with the Dream King.
48. I enjoy superhero comics, but only Marvel ones. The DC characters don’t do that much for me. I find that is true of both the comics and the movies, though sometimes I get in the mood for Batman and I continue to watch Smallville, even though I don’t really think it’s all that good (because Tom Welling is incredibly hot).
49. Spider-Man is so by far my favourite superhero. Spider-Man 2 is my favourite movie ever. I absolutely adore it, and I saw it 12 times in theatre. I will read just about any Spidey comic Marvel comes out with, no matter how lame it is, and I even saw Spider-Man 3 three times, even though it kinda sucked. Spidey, Buffy, and Harry Potter make up my holy trinity of heroic fictional characters.
50. Perhaps largely because he has done such a wonderful job playing one of my heroes, Tobey Maguire is my favourite actor. Aside from the first two Spidey films, Wonder Boys is my favourite of his movies. It and Tim Burton’s Ed Wood are two movies I’m always recommending to people because they’re both so good and so underwatched.
51. I’m also a big Keanu Reeves fan and I’ve got a stack of his movies on DVD. After all the Matrix movies came out, I decided to watch them all back to back in one day to see if the ending made any more sense if I did that. It kinda did … but not totally. The Matrix remains one of my favourite movies, though.
52. When I was a kid, I watched Grease and Dirty Dancing about a million times each. They’re still two of my favourite movies, and I think Grease in particular is a total classic. I never knew all the words to some of the songs when I was young, and the first time I saw the movie when I was old enough to realize what they were saying I was really shocked!
53. I love watching the Oscars every year, and I also love old movies. It’s a goal of mine to see every Best Picture nominee. The fact that I get Turner Classic Movies in Vancouver makes me very, very happy.
54. I am a dedicated TV watcher. When there’s a show I really like, I will make a point of setting aside the time to watch it every week. My current favourites are Lost, House, Battlestar Galactica, and Dexter, among others. My ritual every Sunday used to be to sit down and go through the TV Guide, making a note of when things I wanted to watch were on. However, I no longer get the paper so I don’t actually have a TV guide anymore.
55. Before the glorious advent of TV on DVD, I was really anal about taping my favourite shows. I had boxes of tapes in my closet with every episode of The X-Files, Buffy, Angel, and Party of Five. TV on DVD saves me a lot of shelf space.
56. I have massive love for Farscape, though I only discovered it after it had been cancelled. I tend to watch a whole bunch of episodes at once, and after a while I start thinking in Farscape terms like solar days, cycles, yotz, dren, and frell. I guess you could say it makes me slightly fahrbot.
57. I don’t participate in the Lost extended universe, but I do like looking for the literary and historical references in the show and trying to figure out what it all means. I always read Doc Jensen’s Lost column on Entertainment Weekly’s website.
58. I love to be shocked by TV and movies. I’m always trying to predict what’s going to happen, so when something genuinely surprises me, I’m really pleased. The season 1 finale of Battlestar Galactica and the ending of The Departed are two things that have managed to make me gasp out loud recently. Lost is constantly pulling of fantastic twists. Due to my love of the big surprise, I hate spoilers. I never read them, except sometimes for shows I don’t care about.
59. Arrested Development cracks me up. I sometimes randomly start saying “Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog” over and over. I find it very soothing. And also hilarious.
60. One of the best papers I ever wrote in university was on Rick Mercer’s Talking to Americans. I re-read it once a couple of years after handing it in, and I actually could not believe I had written something so good.
60. Aside from Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling, my favourite writers are probably Jane Austen, Mordecai Richler, and Carol Shields. I am pretty much strictly a novel reader. I almost never touch non-fiction, unless it’s about hockey.
61. I grew up watching soap operas and have at various points in my life followed All My Children, Days of Our Lives, and Another World pretty closely. I was most dedicated to General Hospital, though: I watched it daily for several years. I loved Carly and Sonny. The fact that Sarah Brown is back on the show has me almost tempted to start watching again.
62. I have a small collection of action figures and fandom collectibles. I don’t buy a lot of stuff, and I try to get things that are unique in some way. In particular, I like silly action figures, such as Darth Tater. I’ve got bobbleheads of Angel and Spike, a plush Rygel from Farscape, and a Harry Potter Quidditch mobile as well as my very own Puppet Angel. I have about 20 or 25 Spider-Man figures, which might sound like a lot to the average person on the street, but trust me, I know people who have many more.
(100 Things About Me – Episode III: The Good, the Bad, and the Random coming soon to this space!)
Puck Lit reviews are probably going to slow down a bit now: I start back to school in just over a week, and won’t likely have as much time to read, which is sad but then again hockey season is starting up again soon anyway so I can go back to filling this space with posts about actual hockey. YAY!
Puck Lit Project Review #6: Cold-Cocked: On Hockey by Lorna Jackson
Plot Summary: This is another non-fiction book so there’s no plot per se, but basically it is the author’s chronicle of rediscovering hockey later in life and following the Vancouver Canucks through the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons. There’s also a little bit of her personal biography thrown in: stories about her attempts to learn more about her father’s service in World War II, her efforts at recovering from a long-term knee injury, and her sheep farm.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Reflections on Hockey
Hockey Content: Obviously, there is a lot in this one about the Canucks and the players who were with the team at the time the book was being written, with Markus Naslund, Ed Jovanovski, Trevor Linden, and Todd Bertuzzi (this was the season of the Steve Moore incident) as the main players. Mostly, we get Jackson’s observations on the Canucks’ games as well as their fans and players. For Sens fans, new Sens/former Canucks Jarkko Ruutu and Alex Auld figure in briefly. There are thoughts on Dany Heatley, and there’s a chapter in which Alfie gives birth to quadruplets!
Okay, it’s a sheep named Alfie. Had you wondering for a second though, didn’t I?
Choice Quotation: â€œRight before puck drop, Hockey Night in Canada‘s Ron MacLean … goes wistful and chokes out Canadian hockey’s season-ending uber-clichÃ©: We all dream about playing in the NHL, we all dream about playing in the Stanley Cup finals. We do not. Ron is over-acting about a certain brand of boy raised in cold places where ice happens every year, everywhere. Do we all dream Ron’s dream? Most little girls don’t (Shaunavon redheads notwithstanding) and really not girls raised more rain forest than ice-covered pond. The NHL engine — media pistons pumping and spewing — is fuelled ineptly by such mythomania. It distorts our national identification with the game and lies about those who love it. And it excludes a population of fans willing to commit, to stay loyal, to spend money.â€
My Thoughts: I was very happy to read this book because out of all the Canadian books that reflect on the game and what it means — a pretty huge genre, really — this is, as far as I can tell, the only one written by a woman. As much as I do enjoy reading the meditations on the game written by the men who’ve played it, I must admit that I started to feel rather annoyed and excluded the last time I read one of those “we love the game because we grew up playing on frozen ponds” things. I never played on a frozen pond, but I still love hockey, and I certainly don’t think it’s right to state that only those kids (boys) whose parents (fathers) built them backyard rinks truly understand and love the game. Women not only get left out of the myth of hockey, but Jackson is also quite right: the NHL often does a pretty terrible job of marketing to female fans (see this post at My Three Favorite Things for more on that), and it’s not like there aren’t any of us out there.
So, I think it’s about time a woman sat down and wrote a book about why she loves hockey. Cold-Cocked fills a niche I’d been wanting to see filled, and it fills it well. It’s a very good read. Jackson’s thoughts on the game and how women view it are interesting. She writes that a hockey season is like a story, which is something that’s occurred to me often as I’ve been thinking back on 2007-2008 and wondering what went wrong. We can’t possibly know what an individual game or goal is going to mean until we’ve seen all the games and all the goals. Jackson argues that women in particular read the game that way, and that we like the stories involved. We like to know the background, the context for what is happening. While I’m not totally convinced that male sports fans don’t take an interest in that sort of thing, I’m certain she’s right that women do. She interviews Trevor Linden at one point, and asks him why he thinks female fans are so loyal to him. Linden says he thinks it’s because many of them have grown up watching him play, which I think gets at what Jackson is trying to say: women sometimes become personally involved in a way that men maybe just don’t.
Connected to this is another part of the reason I think women love Trevor Linden, which is that he comes across as upstanding, smart, and gentlemanly. He’s that guy who you just know would never do you wrong. He’s like hockey’s version of Lloyd Dobler (somewhere, my friend the Doc who loves both Linden and John Cusack is nodding). And with this, we get at the other thing women enjoy about hockey that men — at least straight men — probably do not. Jackson is totally frank about her schoolgirl crush on golden-haired Markus Naslund and recounts her fantasies about some of the players (totally G-rated, okay). Not that I personally indulge in that type of thought about hockey players … not that I would ever daydream about a fun-filled afternoon playing Rock Band with Rick Nash at his house, which I might imagine being something like Sugar Mountain, with a fridge full of ice cream and cake and a cotton candy machine, and also probably a trampoline — if I imagined Rick Nash’s house at all, that is. Which I do not, and I certainly would not have such a weird fantasy about him anyway. But that is beside the point: it seems inevitable that if you put a bunch of really fit men on ice and have them perform heroic feats of hockey greatness for us, women are going to find some of them hot. It’s just a fact of life, like how guys are always going to check out the ice girls. It doesn’t make us any less knowledgeable about hockey, and it definitely doesn’t make us puck bunnies. We just see things differently, and I don’t quite get why that’s a problem for so many men. I like the fact that Jackson deals with this aspect of female fandom in her book, instead of trying to cover it up to appeal to the more “serious” (those are sarcastic quotation marks, by the way) male audience.
Rating: 4 pucks out of 5. Jackson gives a great account of seeing the game through feminine eyes. I would recommend this book certainly to my fellow female hockey bloggers, who I’m sure would enjoy it, and to any male hockey fan who wants a different perspective.
I woke up just before 3:30 this morning and watched sexy kayak dude Adam van Koeverden race to silver in the K-1 500. Van Koeverden has become a great example for me of what Jackson writes about women liking a good story, not to mention a handsome face. Before he bombed the K-1 1000, van Koeverden was pretty much just a hot kayaking machine to me. I figured he was invincible. But seeing him absolutely lose the plot in his first final, and then seeing his complete and utter disbelief at how things had turned out made me much more invested in the outcome of his second race. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone look so genuinely lost on television before. Adam van Koeverden: awesome and unstoppable kayak juggernaut? Good story, sure. Adam van Koeverden: struggling after an unbelievably bad performance and unsure about his ability to bounce back? Now that’s compelling. In my barely-awake state, I cheered my head off for him. This is one of Olympic moments I’ll remember for a long time.
The TV schedules for national NHL broadcasters in Canada and the US (that would be CBC, TSN, and Versus) were released yesterday. For Sens fans living in the Ottawa area, this isn’t such a big deal: you can be pretty sure you’re going to get local coverage of most of the games from Sportsnet or whatever CHRO/The New RO/A Channel is calling itself these days. For people like me, though, who live in faraway places where other NHL teams get all the local broadcasting attention and where they only have access to Sportsnet Pacific, this makes a difference. I learn exactly how often I’ll be able to watch the games comfortably from my bed, and how often I’ll be getting eyestrain and back pain from trying to watch them on a tiny streaming video window on my computer while sitting in my desk chair.
I have browsed the schedules, and I’ve learned a few things. For one, no matter how many times the CBC claims it’s going to show fewer Leafs games, this will never actually happen. If the Leafs finished dead last in the NHL every season from now until 2017-2018, the CBC would still show their games cross-Canada every Saturday night in the 2018-2019 season, and they’d probably bill the Leafs’ quest to set a record for incompetence that might never be broken as the most exciting thing to happen in hockey since 1967. I’m not too sure where they get the impression that people in the west are interested in the Leafs. I suppose there are probably Leafs fans out there, but I haven’t met them. Most people in Vancouver appear to view the Leafs the same way I do, that is, with a mix of violent hatred and complete derision. On the other hand, they react to the Sens mostly with a big "eh." I guess the second thing I’ve learned from the broadcast schedule, then, is that a violent reaction is better than no reaction, and that’s why the Sens won’t be coming to my TV via Hockey Night in Canada very much this year (unless they’re playing the Leafs, or maybe Sidney Crosby’s team). Could it be that Western Canada’s giant collective shrug towards the Sens has something to do with a lack of coverage of the team in the west by the nation’s official broadcaster? Maybe, but I guess we’ll never know.
CBC’S Confirmed Nationally Broadcast Sens Games for 2008-2009
Oct. 4: Pittsburgh at Ottawa (Stockholm, Sweden) (2:30pm Eastern)
Oct. 5: Ottawa at Pittsburgh (Stockholm, Sweden) (2:30pm Eastern)
Oct. 25: Ottawa at Toronto (7:00pm Eastern)
Nov. 22: N.Y. Rangers at Ottawa (This game is part of "Original Six Saturday.") (3:00pm Eastern)
Dec. 6: Pittsburgh at Ottawa (2:00pm Eastern)
Dec. 27: Ottawa at Calgary (A birthday gift? For me? How thoughtful!) (10:00pm Eastern)
Jan. 3: Ottawa at Toronto (7:00pm Eastern)
Jan. 17: Montreal at Ottawa (7:00pm Eastern)
Feb. 21: Ottawa at Montreal (Hockey Day in Canada) (3:00pm Eastern)
Feb. 28: Toronto at Ottawa (7:00pm Eastern)
Mar. 14: Ottawa at Pittsburgh (3:00pm Eastern)
Mar. 29: Ottawa at Tampa Bay (a Sunday game, for some reason) (6:00pm Eastern)
Apr. 11: Ottawa at Toronto (7:00pm Eastern)
Good thing for afternoon games against Pittsburgh, eh? The Sens will be featured nationally in the primetime Saturday slot only five times this season (the CBC will also broadcast other Saturday night Sens games regionally in the Ottawa area), and each time they’re playing either Montreal or Toronto. Looking at the Sens’ remaining Saturday games, I actually can’t blame the CBC for not showing them more often. The Leafs generally do have more appealing matchups. The only problem is that the other team in those matchups is, of course, the Leafs.
Which brings me to lesson #3 learned from the broadcast schedule: TSN only gets to pick its Sens games after all the other networks are done. How else can we explain a slate that features matchups against mostly teams that are either mediocre (Florida and Atlanta — twice!), boring (Boston and New Jer-zzzz), or Nashville? They’ve thrown a couple of good looking matchups — one game each against Montreal and Washington — to make it a bit more palatable, plus meetings with Buffalo and Tampa Bay which should at least be entertaining. I don’t want to complain too much because really, I’m always glad to see the Sens on my actual TV, but these are games it’s going to be a little hard to get psyched up for.
The NHL on TSN’s Sens Games for 2008-2009
Oct. 22: Florida at Ottawa (7:00pm Eastern)
Nov. 11: Ottawa at Montreal (7:00pm Eastern)
Dec. 3: Atlanta at Ottawa (7:00pm Eastern)
Jan. 4: Ottawa at New Jersey (5:00pm Eastern)
Jan. 14: Ottawa at Atlanta (7:30pm Eastern)
Jan. 20: Washington at Ottawa (7:30pm Eastern)
Feb. 5: Boston at Ottawa 7:00pm (Eastern)
Feb. 11: Ottawa at Buffalo (7:30pm Eastern)
Feb. 16: Ottawa at Nashville (8:00pm Eastern)
Mar. 11: Tampa Bay at Ottawa (7:00pm Eastern)
So, all in all, that’s 23 Sens games on TV in Vancouver this season. Not bad, but also not enough to satisfy my bottomless appetite for Sens coverage. The final thing I have learned from the schedule is thus that I will be subscribing to NHL Center Ice Online as soon as I get back to my west coast home. This will allow me not only to watch about 60 more Sens games (unless there are pay-per-view games) but also to watch any other televised NHL game. Like Spider-Man’s amazing abilities, this will, I’m sure, be both a gift and a curse. The eyestrain and backaches will get worse and worse the more hockey I watch, and my grades will suffer, and I’ll have no life. But at the same time, I will become an encyclopedia of hockey knowledge, able to comment intelligently on that questionable penalty in the Columbus/Dallas game the other night and the reasons for the Ducks’ 18-game winless streak. It will be awesome.
Every time I turn the TV on these days, there’s Canada failing to win yet another medal. I’ll be honest: I like watching the Olympics, but the main thing I’m getting from the goings on in Beijing right now is an intense desire to be watching the Vancouver 2010 games instead. Judging by the fact that a good number of the Olympic-themed TV ads I’m seeing on CBC feature references to winter sports, I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Watching these Olympics is also fuelling my need to see a real sport played. A sport I care about all the time and not just every four years. A sport that has sustained me through many a long winter (in Ottawa) and one long, stupidly winterless school year (in Vancouver). That sport is of course hockey, preferably hockey played by the Ottawa Senators. Sadly, there are still a whopping 37 days until the Sens’ take the ice for their first pre-season game on September 20 against the Rangers.
This hockey drought is really making me appreciate the times when hockey was there. Even the monstrosity that was last season was better than this no hockey state. With that in mind, I will now continue my series of 2007-2008 Season in Review posts, revisiting the dreary month of November.
Episode III – It’s Hard to Hold a Candle (November)
Ah, yes. November. A month that ended in five straight losses (two in shootouts). At the time it seemed like a fluke, but in retrospect I suppose it was our first signal that the Sens might not be invincible, and that the season could go badly. Things started off on the wrong foot with a 6-4 win over Atlanta that, as John Paddock said at the time, felt more like a loss: after building a 5-0 lead in the first two periods, the team allowed the Thrashers (mostly Ilya Kovalchuk, who had a hat trick despite having been treated to dinner by Dany Heatley the night before, the ungrateful jerk) to come within a goal in the third. It wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t happy. More bad news for the Sens: Jason Spezza hurt himself in practice and missed the first six games of the month with a groin injury. This didn’t seem to slow the team down much, however, as they won five of those six games and, having won eight games in a row overall, set a new team record for longest winning streak. The one loss without Spezza was less than impressive: a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals (they get my vote as this season’s arch-nemesisisisis), who were struggling mightily at the time, having lost 10 of their previous 12 games. But it was only a couple of games after Spezza returned that things really got bad.Â The losses piled up: 4-2 to the Sabres. 6-5 in a shootout to the Penguins, with our new friend Jarkko Ruutu scoring the winner. 4-3 to the Flyers. 3-2 to the Islanders, again in a shootout. And finally, 6-5 to the Predators in regulation to end the month. Two 6-5 losses. They gave up six goals against twice in one week. It was terrible, but it felt like an anomaly. I know now, of course, that this losing streak was actually foreshadowing how the season would end. If only I could go back in time and warn us all.
Memorable Moments: I have deleted much of this month from my memory already, but there is one moment I treasure. One moment which never fails to bring a smile to my face when I look back on it. Picture it: Long Island. November 28, 2007. The Senators have lost three in a row and the fans are beginning to lose hope. They’re now in overtime in a game against the Islanders when the Isles get a 2-on-1. The fate of the game hangs on the defensive play of that one man back for Ottawa. Who is that one man? Please, please let it be Chris Phillips or Anton Volchenkov. Alfie? Mike Fisher? Chris Kelly? No, it’s … oh crap, it’s Jason Spezza. Well that’s it, the game is over, we’re toast. But wait, what’s this? Spezza has positioned himself between the two Isles players and the net. He’s … he’s … he stopped them!! Jason Spezza has played a perfect 2-on-1! He saved the game! Spezza saved the game with a great defensive play! Savour it. Savour … oh, we lost anyway. But I must admit that I still have Spezza’s brilliant 2-on-1 saved on my DVR somewhere.
Eye on a Player: Jason Spezza was the centre of attention for much of November, as I recall, because of his groin injury. Even if he hadn’t been, he’d be my choice for hero of the month just for that 2-on-1. When Alfie sat out a game due to a sore groin, Spezza took on the role of groin injury mentor to his ailing captain, advising him not to rush back. "Groins are tough," he told the CBC. "You don’t want them to linger." For not rushing back from an injury, for playing a beautiful 2-on-1, and for coming up with one of my all-time favourite hockey player quotes — Jason Spezza, I salute you.