Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Tickets, tickets, tickets!! 

It's an expensive week to be a sports fan in Ottawa. Grey Cup tickets go on sale to the general public today (we season ticket holders reserved ours a while back). The Grey Cup ticket costs as much as the rest of the season combined (at least where I sit) but the experience may well be worth it.

Late last week, I received a letter for the World Cup exhibition games. Though I missed their initial deadline (end of yesterday), the three emails I received last night informed me there was still time.

My Senators playoff package arrived yesterday. They may cost anywhere from an arm and a leg, to perhaps only a flesh wound depending on how the team plays.

Ottawa Lynx tickets went on sale yesterday. Opening day is just over a week away. IMO, the Lynx are the best value in town. The quality of ball is good. There isn't a bad seat in the stadium. Parking is cheap. Tickets are cheap. I can't recommend it enough.

However, maybe the best deal for tonight is Game 7 of the 67s first-round series against the Brampton Batallion. After running into trouble, the 67s have fought back to force a 7th game. While I don't get to as many 67s games as I'd like (including this one), I always love the ones I do go to. The Civic Centre has great atmosphere, and at only $15, the price is right.

Flyin' in Florida 

Nutshell recap since last post.

Sens against Avs. Very Good. Sens against 'Canes. No show. Sens against Bruins. Stop handling the puck, Patrick. Sens against Habs. Playoff Patrick has returned?! Sens against Leafs. Watch out for that rut Patrick....doh! Prusek fills in mostly admirably, occasionally spectacularly. Captain Alfie signs on as a lifer on Sunday.

Which brings us back to the present but also back to the 80s.

Ottawa 5 Tampa Bay 4

Wow. Now that was fun - in a heart-stopping-breath-holding-80s-firewagon-hockey kind of way. Andrew at Ottawa Senators Fanblog has a good breakdown of the game, including the odd decision to on the Redden hooking call that led to TBay's third goal. Not that it wasn't a penalty, but given that it followed immediately a period of about 20 seconds where Modin had been holding Bonk's stick tucked under his arm like a prosthetic third arm, the arbitrary calling of penalties was interesting.

There was a time, possibly as recently as a few weeks ago that such an occurence would have prompted much scorn and swearing. Now, after much hard work and effort, I've passed the scream at the TV phase and entered the jaded apathy phase when it comes to inconsistent or non-existent refereeing (though I reserve the right to occasionally lapse into a screaming tantrum). I know it's going to happen, so I just let it slide. When the Bolts went ahead, I had resigned myself to a likely loss.

That's when the Sens pleasantly surprised me with a rare sign of resiliency (tying, then retaking the lead), followed by the all-too-frequent blowing the lead. Happily, they finshed the game off with some good work in OT, capped by Mr. Playoff's OT winner.

As the cherry on top of a fine evening of hockey, Daniel Alfredsson's goal pushed him past Alexi Yashin as the top goal scorer in Senators' history.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Filling in the gaps 

Almost lost amidst the stampede heading back toward the Senators bandwagon is the news of the Renegades filling their vacant coaching slots.

Best search terms ever 

Someone got here by seaching for "tweedledee guinness". Whoever you are, I hope you found what you were looking for.

Patrick steals the show 

When you're as excited as I was about a game, there's always the possibility of ending up disappointed. Fortunately, tonight's Sens-Avs tilt was not one of those nights. It was a tight game featuring end-to-end action. The three stars:

1. Patrick Lalime. For at least one night, (though hopefully just the first of many to come over the coming months) Lalime was excellent, making all the big stops in the 2-0 win. He made his most spectacular save was off Milan Hejduk on a 5-3 penalty kill. He made 23 saves in all.

2. The 4th line. Neil-VanAllen-Ray were great tonight. The did a great job on the cycle down low, controlling the puck deep for extended periods on a few occasions. They generated multiple scoring chances with Neil and VanAllen even getting in on Schaefer's PP goal.

3. Peter Bondra. He was all over the place tonight. Unfortunately he was shooting at a soccer net instead of a hockey net. If he can start hitting the net again he'll be even more dangerous.

Boneheads of the day: all those who left with 5 minutes to play to get a jump on traffic. I wonder if some of these people would leave during a tie in game 7 of the Cup finals. Probably. Sigh.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Updating the blogroll 

Looking at the sidebar today, I realized that I didn't link to even half of the hockey blogs that I read on a regular basis. I've now updated the list:

On the Wings publishes perhaps the most detailed game previews and game recaps in the hockey blogosphere.

Hockey Bird and Hockey Rodent admirably tackle the arduous job of covering the Rangers.

Budblog covers the Sens' provincial rivals. Mike Boon also covers the Leafs among many other things. For example, today he reviews the misfortunes of the ballplayers featured in the best Simpsons episode ever.

Boltsmag covers PEI native Brad Richards and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Today, Hockey Nation looks at the latest development in the Battle of Ontario. KP at Hockey Nation also has a CFL blog called Twelve Men on the Field through which I found a couple of Renegades sites: Ottawafootball.com and a Renegades fan page.

An Avalanche of excitement 

Until I moved to Ottawa, I had only seen one NHL game. Growing up in PEI, my only contact with professional hockey (other than a brief AHL stint in the mid 90s) was through TV and newspapers. Professional sports were something that happened in a far away place, both geographically and psychologically. When I started going to Senators games regularly about 6 years ago, I was honestly slightly in awe. For the first year or two, it felt surreal to see highlights of games I had been at. It took some time to reconcile that I had seen in person what had always seemed like another world.

That novelty has since worn off, though I still thouroughly enjoy going to Sens games. However, waiting for tonight's game against the Avalanche, my anticipation and excitement is as strong as any non-playoff game I've been to. I've been waiting for this game all season. Even though Forsberg and Tanguay will be out for the Avs, and Alfie is a game-time decision for the Sens, I'm excited to see two ultra-talented teams square off. Despite the Sens current slump, they do seem to get up for the better teams, and I expect them to raise their game tonight. It promises to be a great game.


I ran across another Sens blog a few days ago via the always well written and thoughtful Canucks Corner. I've added the Ottawa Senators Fanblog to the links in the sidebar. In addition to general commentary, he writes detailed game recaps.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

So long, Sheriff... 

In their second deal of the day the Sens sent "The Sheriff", Shane Hnidy to the Nashville Predators for a 3rd round pick in this year's draft. While I understand that there was just no room for Hnidy, I'm sad to see him go. He isn't the most talented player, but you never have to worry about him taking a game off. He works hard out there and he sticks up for his teammates when needed.

I wish him all the best in Nashville. Hopefully he'll get the chance to play full time.

The arms race continues... 

After a quiet deadline day morning, things are heating up this afternoon and the road through the Eastern Conference continues to get tougher as both Ottawa and Toronto have improved their clubs. The Senators picked up D Greg de Vries from the Rangers in exchange for underchieving D Karel Rachunek, and prospect Alexandre Giroux. It's a definite upgrade for the Sens in the short term, but could look bad long term if Rachunek (or Giroux for that matter) lives up to his potential.

The Leafs made a great pickup in Ron Francis, in exchange for a 4th rounder in 2005. Great move with little risk for them. They also signed Calle Johanssen. The Sens are rumoured to be countering the move by bringing Rod Langway out of retirement.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Deadline eve 

In honor of the deafening trade hype, and composed of rumoured Senators-to-be, I've assembled...

The all rumour team:

G Kolzig
D Pronger
D Witt
F Wiemer
F Messier
F Barnaby

Recently cut: Chris Simon

Not a bad lineup.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Loading up... 

In a mini dealing frenzy that has many wondering if the trade deadline was moved up a week, the Eastern Confereence contenders continue to load up for a potential playoff run. If you've been away for the last 48 hours, here's what you've missed:

The Canadiens pick up Alexei Kovalev and Jim Dowd.

The Bruins win the Sergei Gonchar sweepstakes and add Michael Nylander for good measure.

The Maple Leafs add Brian Leech.

The Devils (Kozlov), Flyers (Burke, Zhamnov), Lightning (Sydor) and Sens (Bondra) have also made significant trades in the last few weeks.

And the trading deadline is still nearly a week away. Lots of rumours still abound. This early flurry could be a sign of a blizzard to come. However, we're more likely to see final tinkering from most teams in the East rather than blockbusters.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Moving to the Eastern Townships... 

I'm not really, but given the Sens' performance during my last two trips there it's tempting. Although SRC didn't seem to realize that there were games other than the Canadiens, or at the very least didn't bother to update us on them, I eventually learned of the Sens 7-1 win. Last time I was in Magog on a Saturday, the Sens downed the Rangers 9-1. Good thing I'm not superstitious or I'd be moving in with my brother-in-law for the duration of the playoffs. That could get especially messy if the Sens end up meeting the Canadiens in Round 1.


Hopefully this week will be better for writing. Goodness knows it can't be any worse than last.