Ottawa 4 Tampa Bay 1
Just as I was going to write something about the Senators win over the Bolts tonight, I catch sight of Sens prospect Mika Zibanejad scoring the overtime goal for Sweden to win the World Juniors and doing an incredible "Foligno leap" as his teenage teammates swarm him in a shambolic blur of yellow jerseys.
It was an unbelievable goal by a can't-miss kid who has power forward written all over him.
Could Ottawa Senators fans possibly have a better day in January?
Their top prospect stars in the World Juniors and scores the clutch overtime goal to become a hero in his homeland.
Four Ottawa Senators - Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek - get voted into the starting lineup of the All-Star game right here in Kanata while the Leaf's golden boy Phil Kessel gets buried before the finish line as Sens fans stack the ballots at the last minute (Oh the indignity! Kessel gets picked last in the "fun" draft last year and now the millions of Leaf fans hang him out to dry).
And just to make sure everybody gets a gift bag, the Senators roll over the Lightning for their 4th straight win that temporarily puts them ahead of Pittsburgh for 5th in the East.
Not sure I should write much more because most Ottawa fans are probably in some kind of happiness coma or else blind drunk in an effort to deal with the mind shattering events of today.
Allright, one more for the deranged.
Alfie had a 3-point night.
Grown men are weeping across the city.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Craig Anderson
2. Daniel Alfredsson
3. Kyle Turris
Honorable Mentions: Zack Smith, Colin Greening, Jason Spezza and Erik Condra.
Expansion Twins Starting To Grow Up
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators both entered the league in 1992 when the rather dapper NHL President John Ziegler was the king of Palm Springs and nobody but basketball fans had heard of Gary Bettman (nor had they heard of an NHL "Commissioner"). Here’s a few random comparisons between the two relatively young franchises:
1. After their first two NHL seasons, the Bolts had 53 wins while the Sens had 24.
2. To date, the Senators have had 9 head coaches (including Roger Neilson for two games) while the Lightning have had 8. Basically a wash.
3. The Lightning have had 8 different captains. The Senators 7.
4. The highest sweater number worn by a Senator was 94 by Stan Neckar. For the Bolts it’s 97 worn this season by Matt Gilroy.
5. A few notable players that fans may or may not remember that have played for both Ottawa and Tampa are Alexandre Daigle, Filip Kuba, Vaclav Prospal, Bruce Gardiner, Andrej Meszaros, Mike Sillinger, Zenon Konopka, Cory Stillman, Janne Laukkanen, Andreas Johannson, Brandon Bochenski, Grant Ledyard, Ryan Shannon, Stan Neckar, Luke Richardson, Colin Forbes, Jody Hull, Andre Roy, David Hale, Darren Rumble and Juha Ylonen.
6. The Lightning have had the first overall pick in the Entry Draft 3 times, taking Roman Hamrlik, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. The Senators also picked first 3 times taking Alexandre Daigle, Bryan Berard and Chris Phillips.
7. The Bolts best late round pick has to be Pavel Kubina, taken 179th overall in the 7th round in 1996. Obviously Ottawa’s is Daniel Alfredsson taken 133rd overall in 1994’s 6th round. Maybe Ryan Dzingel will change all that in a few years.
8. Ottawa has used 27 goalies in its existence. Tampa has used 37. Remember Dieter Kochan? Who’s calling who a goalie graveyard now?
9. The Bolts have made the playoffs 6 times in their 18 completed seasons, with the most in a row being 4 from 2003 to 2007. The Sens made it 12 times in the same span, doing it 11 years in a row between 1997 and 2008.
10. The one comparison that really matters? The Bolts have a Stanley Cup.
Some more good news for Senators fans: the players voted into the All-Star game will be spending the month of January trying to prove to everybody they truly deserve to be there. Daniel Alfredsson already mentioned something like that around Christmas, saying he wished it was his play qualifying him for the game and not just his popularity (to paraphrase). Is it a coincidence he’s been on fire lately? The player this should give the biggest boost to is Milan Michalek who’s been pretty cold since he returned from a concussion. I don’t think it matters to Erik Karlsson. He’s too green and otherworldly to even know what pressure is. He’d still have 20 assists if he was playing with a broomball stick and wearing a pair of old Kodiak’s.....It's always funny when you hear a player very forcefully yell "f**k off!" during the play on live TV and guys like Dean Brown and Denis Potvin have to pretend we all didn't hear it......Played Pro-Line again on Wednesday night for the first time in a while and picked Winnipeg to beat Montreal and took the Under. Habs win 7-3. I took Boston and New Jersey to tie. Bruins win 6-1. And yet I seemed so sure of my own genius when I forked over the two dollars to the strangely smirking clerk who said "Good luck" like he knew something I didn't.....
.....Kyle Turris. Pretty good hockey player. Not the greatest interview. I felt for Ian Mendes as he tried to get a few moderately entertaining answers out of the young man after his first goal as a Sen. Mendes would have had better luck mining for diamonds in Major's Hill Park.....You might be surprised but a lot of NHL coaches don't go around patting backs on the bench. Hell, some coaches barely even talk to their players outside of the dressing room. But there was Paul MacLean going right up to Kyle Turris to congratulate him on his first goal as a Senator. And we've seen that type of thing all season from MacLean. It's somewhat normal for assistant coaches to do the rah-rah thing but the stereotype of the head coach is a guy who eats ice chips and sneers like Mike Keenan (who really did eat ice chips from a Gatorade cup every single game). It's no surprise the players love playing for a guy like MacLean. If he can get them into the playoffs, they'll go through the wall for him......Kerry Fraser recently penned a really good column over at TSN about some of the more vicious and controversial trash talking that goes on in the NHL between players. As Kerry points out, it can often go over the line into territory that gets everybody in trouble. But for every taunt that goes over the line, there's probably 50 that are pretty funny. I've been reading Fraser's new book about his career called "The Final Call" (which I will probably do a review of in the near future here on the blog) and in it he recalls a time when New York Islander (and now TSN personality) Ray Ferraro made then-New York Ranger Tie Domi go completely berserk with rage. Seeing that it was right around Halloween, Ferraro waited until the linesmen had Domi tied up in an after-whistle scrum and then yelled at the young tough guy "Domi, with a fuckin' head like that, you should be sitting on someone's porch!" As Fraser tried not to laugh, Domi had to be held back from "ripping Ferraro's head off to hang on the rear-view mirror of his car." Halloween-themed trash talking clearly has potential for greatness.....
.....Now that Stevie Yzerman's running the Bolts, can we start calling Steven Stamkos "Stevie" too? I think the only one who still calls Yzerman "Stevie" is Don Cherry, but that's a tradition that should be carried on. It's not too hard to remember Stevie Y as the kid who Detroit pinned all their hopes on to drag them out of their ghetto early 80's era.......One last thing about the Lightning - their new uniforms this year are a huge improvement (remember these old 3rd's?). Simple, clean but still bright and those lightning bolts on the pants are a nod to their early years. Yzerman said the organization wanted a classic look and in a way the Tampa uni's are close to a blue version of the Wings look. Pretty sharp....
......John Vogl of the Buffalo News gives us a great quote from Ville Leino on the quiet and lifeless atmosphere in Buffalo’s home rink this year: “Married couples fighting upstairs, you can hear that on the ice."…..Geez, I’m guessing the Sabres would love to get their hands on Ryan Getzlaf if all the scuttlebutt about him being available in a possible yard sale in Anaheim. Getzlaf is exactly the kind of big, proven, playmaking centre they’ve needed for a long time. Could even be worth sacrificing Ryan Miller for….