Thursday, April 26, 2012
It's Over For The Senators ... And Maybe For Alfredsson
New York 2 Ottawa 1 (Rangers win series 4-3)
It's officially summer in Ottawa.
In the end, the Senators just didn't have enough pucks to break down the near impenetrable Rangers defence and their horrifyingly dominant goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who put in a performance worthy of Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek.
The days ahead will be all about what went wrong for Ottawa and there will be some long knives pulled out of a few bony backs and bodies pulled out from under the buses, an annual April tradition in these parts (as it is in every NHL city but one).
Since you asked, if I had to throw a few stones myself, I'd be questioning why rookies like Mark Stone and Jakob Silfverberg were put in the lineup late in the series ahead of guys who have been with the team all season. Stone made one nice play on a big goal but both rookies didn't have an impact when they weren't struggling. How much energy could a guy like Kaspars Daugavins, universally adored in that dressing room, have given this team? Who knows. It probably wouldn't have made much of a difference because the Senators lost this series to a better team. The Rangers were better in the regular season and they were good enough to fend off a Senators team that had nothing to lose in the post-season.
There were other problems for Ottawa, most notably Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek getting checked and hounded into insignificance almost every single game and Nick Foligno's unfortunate goalie interference penalty in Game 6 that thoroughly killed the momentum they had in the early going, bad call or not. In my opinion, it was a turning point in the series and Foligno deserved the call. You could tell by the look on his face and the mocking hands in the air as he was slightly pushed from behind.
I'm sure Senators fans will wholeheartedly disagree with me, as they spent most of their energy trashing CBC personalities and blaming the referees for everything that went wrong. Sure, some calls were brutal, but it's always been that way in the NHL. One of the first things my father taught me was that referees were a sort of sub-human species who had it out for whatever team you were cheering for. Canadian kids get taught that before they learn about Santa Claus. Not much has changed in 2012 except everyone can now go on Twitter and flamethrow everybody and everything they see.
Well, I didn't intend to let this post get so negative that quickly, but that's Stella Artois and some shattered nerves for you.
When all the crying is done, the fans should look back on this season as a major step forward for this organization and along the way, people were treated to some of the best hockey they've seen in almost five years.
The Senators happened to come up a goal short in the last game, but so have hundreds upon hundreds of other NHL teams over the years. Most of them survived.
The real focus now turns to Daniel Alfredsson and whether or not he has played in his last NHL game. My hunch is that he comes back for another season but might need a month of healing to come to that decision.
There's too many good nights ahead for this young team to willingly choose to walk away from it, but if he does, he went out as the best Senator on the ice, just like he's been most nights of his career.
Black Aces will be back after a couple days, maybe the weekend, and we'll see how the lay of the land is then.
For all my readers, thanks for another season of sticking around ... for the weird, for the mundane, for all of it.