Awaiting the Fat Lady

The Senators’ season is drawing rapidly to a close — hopefully quite rapidly, because I can’t actually take much more of this. The first two games of the series against the Penguins were at least entertaining, but since I attended game 3, my enthusiasm for the playoffs has been replaced by an overwhelming sense of frustration with many different things.

The team’s general poor play and lack of physicality.

Jason Spezza’s consistently poor decision-making.

The terrible officiating, and on top of that, the Penguins’ schoolyard penalty drawing tactics, which even Don Cherry has criticized. I realize Sens fans are considered whiners, but quite honestly, as I sat there watching the second period unfold on Sunday night, I wondered for the first time why I bother watching NHL hockey if this is how they decide the games when it matters.

The fact is: I never thought the Sens would win this series, nor do I think they have played well enough to win it. I would not argue that the officiating or bad luck has cost Ottawa the series. They’re overmatched, and they simply haven’t been very good.

But …

With the game tied at 1 in the second period on Sunday night, I watched as Marc-André Fleury and a Pens d-man took turns punching Nick Foligno in the head behind the play. No call, and within the next two minutes Evgeni Malkin had scored to put the Pens ahead. It’s a goal I refuse to acknowledge because Ottawa should have been on the power play when it happened. It’s also a goal that changed the game immensely.

Also on Sunday: repeat offender Matt Cooke hit Peter Regin from behind during the second period. The play was called boarding and Cooke got two minutes. I have most certainly seen players given 5-minute majors and ejected from games for less. A few seconds after coming out of the box, Cooke, who arguably shouldn’t even have been in the game at that point, assisted on the Sidney Crosby goal that put Pittsburgh up 3-1. He may also have interfered with Brian Elliott on the play. No goalie interference was called.

With the Penguins up 6-4 last night, Chris Kunitz cleared the puck over the glass. It was a clear delay of game penalty. It was the kind of thing that gets called all the time. But this time, it wasn’t called. Less than two minutes later, Kunitz, who should have been serving his penalty, scored the Pens’ seventh goal. So we were going to lose anyway. So great, let us lose on our own lack of merit. Why make it such a painful experience?

All this, plus the most poorly-timed broken glass in NHL history. At a certain point, you have to conclude that the universe, the hockey gods, the NHL — whoever — has seen fit to kick the Senators and their fanbase in the gut repeatedly until we’re down, and then kick us in the face over and over till we bleed once we’re on the ground. And there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Call it fate. Call it conspiracy. Call it the bad luck that comes with playing badly. Call it whatever you like.

Bottom line: it sucks.


2 Comments so far

  1. sam April 21st, 2010 7:40 am

    Thank for writing this .. it’s how I feel . game 2 is the one that slipped away. Too many things have gone wrong:

    – Injuries to key players
    – we’ll see how healthy alfie is
    – shoddy goaltening

    On top, I think this is where Clouston was not a crafty and resourceful coach. His favoritism to shannon at the expense of donovan and elliot at the expense of leclaire were too blatant.

  2. Meaghan April 21st, 2010 1:12 pm

    Sam, I totally agree about game 2. It seemed like a missed opportunity at the time but in hindsight it’s so much worse. I also tend to agree that Donovan should have made it into the lineup before Shannon.