Maybe there’s a slightly, overly anticipated and hyped-up buzz about every team’s home opener, but entering the grounds of the Canadian Tire Centre (or as my friend Luke calls it, The Palladium Corel Tire Place) on Thursday night felt different.
And I mean different in a good way.
Although it wasn’t a fully sold out game (surprise, surprise), there was a sea of Sens jerseys everywhere – more so than I can ever remember at a home-opener (and I’ve been to my share of home openers) and a good amount of palpable excitement.
Getting yourself ‘up’ for an event like this is always a process, and in the back of your mind, you always wonder if it’s all for not.
This year, we wouldn’t be let down.
The start of the game was a little ho-hum and it almost seemed like ‘bring a book night’ (props to @wtyky for that tasty quip), but that turned around a few minutes in.
Although a sleepy Martin Brodeur looked less than stellar between the pipes, the Sens were up 3-0 early in the second period, after only taking 11 shots on goal.
A quick firestarter blast from Karlsson at 4:32, coupled with a fast-following wrap-around by Bobby Ryan at 6:51 in the first, and a nice side-net roofer from Zack Smith at 18:41 in the second, gave the near-capacity crowd much to hoot about.
But after Zajac and Bernier potted their first goals of the season, the Devils were almost back in the game and the score was 3 to 2.
Luckily, Michalek put a laser beam past the ailing Brodeur and Spezza added an empty netter to seal the deal.
At this point, Luke and I had hugged exactly five times (no more and no less) to celebrate each goal, and I even noticed that my voice was going hoarse.
Surrounded by friends from Silver Sevens (and young children who were told by their parents to keep making ‘earmuffs’), it was a great night. High fives, smiles and four correct goal predictions (by Luke and myself) were all heavy fuel on a little fire.
Although the local media seemed to focus their attention on the fact that ‘Ottawa was outshot 43-22′, this is all I have to say:
What do you want?
Welcome to the NHL; a win is a win and every point counts. If you spend your time constantly looking back and analyzing ‘ways in which this win could have been more definitive’, you’re going to miss out on the magic of getting on board with an exciting team.
Yes, yes – we all want to have our cake and eat it too. We’d all love to see Ottawa winning AND outshooting every opponent, taking almost no penalties (and killing every penalty beautifully), but it’s early yet. This 3-2-2 team has been through the road ringer and to have emerged as well as they have, I’d say they deserve some ‘ice-cred’.
Maybe they’ll be a team that can get outshot and still win. No – they don’t look like the scrappy grinder, NHL-leading penalty-kill team they were last year, but this year, they have some shooting power.
I’m sure somewhere along the lines of this season, we will see the D tighten up and Coach Paulrus’s actual smile.
Until then, the Sens remain a solidly contending team who take the momentum of their two game win streak into today’s game against the ailing Oilers.