Ottawa Senators – Eleven In Six

Matt McKechnie January 12, 2014 26
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As the Ottawa Senators surrendered a 1-0 lead to Mike Fisher and the Nashville Predators in the third period of last night’s game, you could almost hear Coach Paulrus speaking the steadying words of Gold Five in Star Wars to his young team; “Stay on target! Staaayy ooon targeeeettt!”

And that’s exactly what the RABHA did against Nashville, extending their 11-point streak to six games (5-0-1). Minus a few minor giveaways and adding some great, momentum-correcting saves from The Alien, the Sens battened down their hatches, got a few lucky bounces, equalized the play, provided a solid penalty kill at the end of OT and buried the Predators in the shootout 2-0.

Zibanejad made a great outside move on backup Preds goalie Marek Mazanec, beating him blocker-side, while Spezza found a way to do a quick dangle and get a trickler to go through Maz’s fivehole.

Aside from the obvious ridiculousness of shootouts, the Sens found a way to grab another two points on the road and helped to increase their playoff chances.

LUCK VS. PUCK

There’s an old adage that streaking teams get all the luck, which has definitely been true lately for the Sens. Beating Montreal 4-3 in OT a few games ago, there were moments of complete D-zone breakdowns where the RABHA could have easily lost that game. In Colorado, they did lose, in fact, (after coming back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead and blow it in the third), but luckily, the game went to OT and the Sens nabbed a point.

In Nashville, the Sens were outshot 33-21 and had a tough time getting any shots or decent opportunities in the third…but in the end, that is all null and void.

As we all know, sometimes losses or wins just aren’t ‘fair’, but in the NHL universe, the score sheet is what matters. Even though the nines line didn’t see much action from Conacher or Michalek (minus a nice forecheck by Con-dogs to force a bad D-zone giveaway to Turris who netted the only regulation goal), the S line (Spezza, Stone, Smith) had some great moments of connection and look like they are going to start clicking.

But I think the major difference between big market and small market fans is this; Big market team fans want their star players to produce but small market teams fans just want to their team to win at any cost.

I’m not saying that big market team fans don’t ALSO want to win – I’m just saying that sometimes, they want to win a specific way.

Right now, if you’re a Sens fan, you can’t help but feel good about this team’s momentum and another two-point belt notch heading into the final thirty-five-ish games of the season.

SHUT UP ABOUT THE SPEZZA! JUST SHUT UP!

There’s one last point I’d like to add to this article, and I hope that I can emphasize this as strongly as humanly possible; Jason Spezza, no matter what you think about the guy, increases his team’s chances of winning.

I understand that he is definitely a polarizing figure to the Ottawa media and Sens fans. He makes weird plays with the puck and sometimes, because he has a playmaker mindset, he gives the puck away. I’ve been there with you, raising my first and cursing his name while watching a game as he made a backpass to Casper the friendly ghost.

But for all of the rightful responses that are circulated about this guy, I have to laugh at some the asinine, mindless comments that are written about him.

This is the one that I love the most:

“Spezza makes us lose games”.

Oh really? Well that’s an interesting logical tact to take – and though I see your reaching anger, I also see the ultimate futility of your words and raise you this point (answered by a series of retardedly rhetorical questions):

Since his arrival on the team in 2002, who has been on the team every year that the Sens have made the playoffs (eight times in 10 seasons)? Oh right – Jason Spezza. But wait – who was on the team when they made their only run to the Stanley Cup finals, though? Oh shoot. Right. Spezza again. Wait, though – who has scored the most goals for the team since 2002? Oh wait – it’s Jason Spezza with a stunning 240 NHL goals to date.

But hold on, since their recent four-game winning streak, Spezza came back and we lost our first game on this streak, so that counts for something, right?

Oh but – he also scored a regulation, PP goal to tie the game against Colorado and then he scored the game-winning goal in the shootout the very next game against the Preds. So…there’s that.

Here’s my point: As much as I love Ottawa, the city, and the hockey team, Sens fans often don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to their opinions about Spezza.

And what I find the funniest about these opinions are statements like “Spezza is not half the captain that Alfie was” when in actuality, a massive chunk of these same fans were calling into Team 1200 for the early years of Alfie’s captaincy, saying things like “The Sens will never win with #11 as our captain.”

Really, Sens fans? We would never win with Alfie? Do we have to keep having this conversation?

It’s history repeating itself. Smarten up and be original. It’s easy and weak to hate Spezza. If you’re going to critique the team, have the balls and the decency to say that the whole team played poorly instead of scapegoating our new captain and throwing one guy under the bus.

Like him or hate him – but give the guy some f&*king time! He’s been wearing the C for 12 weeks, now.

At any rate, the Jason Spezza-led 20-18-8 RABHA roll into Minnesota on Tuesday to play the Minnesota Wild at 8:00 EST.