Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fans Start To Bail On Spezza Too Early

Uh oh. Here comes the mob.

The Senators are only down 2-1 in their series against the best team in the Eastern Conference and already the fans have started in on Jason Spezza who is stuck at 1 point in the early going of what’s been a memorable playoff round.

Granted, Spezza has built up enough goodwill over the season to keep the trust of most fans but the call-in show on the Team 1200 after the game wasn’t very pretty and the schoolyard twitter bullies have stepped into their own little time-machine to travel to an era when it was fashionable in Ottawa to boo their franchise centre.


For some people, the Ottawa Senators only ever play against themselves. In this comfortable little fantasy world (where everyone wears “little white shorts”), it’s as if no other NHL teams exist. Ottawa is playing against the EA Sports computer and when the results aren’t positive, it must be because Spezza is “the dumbest player in the league” (that’s a real quote from a caller today), Milan Michalek is “invisible”, Craig Anderson isn’t a clutch player and Erik Karlsson can’t play defense.

In this wonderful headspace, it’s easy to forget that the Senators are playing against the best goalie in world, against the best defensive team in the East and against a head coach who has a Stanley Cup ring. And somehow, they’re only down a game in a series in which Ottawa has outplayed them two out of three nights.

For the love of God, fans in Toronto would crawl over a mile of broken glass on lovely Sherbourne Street just to be down 3-0 to the Rangers if it meant being in the playoffs.

In reality, this is a great turn of events for Ottawa. They’re right there with the New York – with a lucky bounce going the other way, Ottawa would be up 2-1 – and their best two forwards, Spezza and Michalek, haven’t even played their best game yet. At some point, those two will find a way and it just might put Ottawa over the top.

Spezza is second on this team in shots for the series with 9. That’s not a player who’s shrinking away under pressure. That’s a guy who is being checked to death by the Rangers but is fighting his way through it only to find a Vezina trophy winner smiling in his face.

It’s the same story every year in the playoffs. When you only have a few offensive weapons like Ottawa has, it’s easy for an elite opponent like the Rangers to shut them down. All their resources go into stopping Spezza, Michalek and Karlsson. Because of that, you often see third and fourth liners become playoff heroes because they’re the only players seeing the third defense pairing and weaker forwards.

True to form, Chris Neil scores an overtime goal in Game Two. Erik Condra has a goal and Spezza doesn’t.

There’s still time for Spezza and Michalek to make a difference in this series. For sure, they need to be better, in particular Michalek, but three games is an awfully quick turnaround for fans to start throwing guys under the bus.

They should be happy with a team that’s playing a near perfect brand of underdog hockey that could even see them topple the Eastern favourites. If you didn’t have Spezza, the Senators would already be golfing by now and you’d have nothing to do but complain about Don Cherry and Sidney Crosby for weeks like everyone else.

Enjoy it while it lasts. Tennis season is just around the corner.


Anonymous said...

The level of hockey IQ of the average fan in Ottawa is embarrassingly low.

It's sad to see ignorance get a voice on the Team 1200, but loud, dumb, people are what gets listeners to tune in.

gwplant said...

Classic...at least there is some sane reading online, most of the garbage on twitter and other so called knowledgeable blog websites is almost intolerable to read, so many people who THINK they know what they are talking about and just love to criticize those who actually do it for a living.

Mark Parisi said...

Amen, Milks. It's ridiculous how fast fans turn if anyone suffers any adversity, and of course the pitchforking is lead by the Sun, because criticizing the players appeals to a the readers that buy papers.

It's so much easier to point out who "sucks" than say, "Hey, let's not panic, we're in this series."

Still... Spezza did not have a good game last night.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it's pretty bad.

That said, Spezza was infuriating last night. Unfortunately people can't channel their frustration into manageable portions - say, just be mad at Spezza today, while still acknowledging him being awesome the other 84 games this season.

That said, no one thought this would be a short series (other than New York supporters), and it doesn't look like NYR will be rattling off 3 straight. Keep to that system and we're golden.

And Spezza will be fine.

Anonymous said...

The 82 games are a training round. Who gives a crap if Spezza got 400 points in a bunch of games against the Islanders, Jets, Canadiens and otehrs with zero pressure, zero on the line and zero consequence?

NOW is when the "mature" and "new" Spezza needs to elevate his game. Lundqvist is incredible? Sure...but it's Spezza's JOB to get through him, whether by using that big body of his to angle the puck away from the Rangers, or using that great wrist shot or passing...and not BLIND passing like he did last night.

Spezza wants to be the captain?
Our REAL captain plays a hardnosed, two-way game that would and SHOULD put Spezza to shame.

We may need Spezza like we may need Karlsson, but I'd not hold a door open for either of them, to put it politely. These guys are just going to want more and more money and more and more adulation until they decide Ottawa isn't their style and they leave town. Spezza ALREADY spends time in TORONTO during the off-season.

This is the guy that is supposed to lead us to a championship?

Anonymous said...

The comment above leaves me in complete disbelief. What makes YOU so good, asshole?

Peter Raaymakers said...

I can't listen to TEAM 1200 call-in shows anymore. It's just too much.

On the other hand, philosophers may cite these call-in shows for proof against human exceptionalism and human supremacy.

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