Sens Lost The Battle But Not The War

Matt McKechnie April 2, 2013 12
The Ottawa Senators were as close as Coach MacLean’s fingers to scoring on Saturday night – but after a crossbar-hit by Jim O’Brien, a goal that was called back by Colin Greening and two missed breakaways by Guillaume Latendresse, the Sens came up 4 goals short.

The Battle of Ontario has ended for now…and the Leafs have taken bragging rights to a new level.

On March 30, 2013, the Ottawa Senators continued to not be able to solve the Sphinx-esque James Reimer, as the red-and-black-attack were blanked 4-0 in their own building by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Although the Sens outshot the boys in blue by a mark of 31-23, they just didn’t seem to have the same puck-luck that the Leafs had. An early, weak tip from Joffrey Lupul somehow baffled ‘Big Ben’ Bishop, and the Leafs were off and running from there.

Nazem Kadri had a hat-trick and cashed in on a few critical defensive errors by the Sens.

The Leafs absolutely outplayed the Sens and deserved the victory against a shaky, nervous Ottawa team that took on way too many penalties way too early in the game.

What was most aggravating about this game, however, was not the final result – but the fact that the Sens and Sens fans will now have to hear about this loss for ages to come from the ‘loudest of the loud’ Leafs fans and the Canadian sports media.

As icing on the Leafs-biased-cake of CBC, Don Cherry had Kadri, Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren on Coach’s Corner after the game, and even kissed Kadri (as he did to Dougie Gilmour many years ago). It was almost as if Don Cherry wanted to pit himself as the Godfather of the NHL, and was giving his public ‘blessing’ to Kadri and the Leafs.

It was almost as sickening as long-time Leafs play-by-play man Jim Hughson’s commentating of the actual game.

After the game, an article by Alec Brownscombe on Maple Leafs Hot Stove outlined the following:

“They’re not contenders yet, but this is looking like an offensively-inclined, hard-hitting, glove-dropping, entertaining, winning hockey team; just like the vision Brian Burke pitched to us five years ago. Randy Carlyle spoke about injecting the pride back into this organization before the season started. We’re getting there.”

It has begun. It’s interesting how Brian Burke, a man eternally despised by any true-blue Leafs fan, is now painted with the genius-brush.

It’s also interesting how Cherry has never had Alfredsson, Iginla, Pacioretty or Byfuglien on his grandstand after a good game by Ottawa, Calgary, Montreal or Winnipeg.

Maybe that’s the irony and the idiocy of the NHL; small market teams hunt for good team-players while big market teams hunt for superstars. The Toronto Maple Leafs organization and fans have been dying for a superstar for eons, and it’s almost as if any amount of good cohesive team-play won’t help them until they get ‘the guy’. 

The only question is ‘who will be that guy?’ and how many more Kadris will the Leafs cycle through before they finally find their shining star?

Meanwhile, back on the small-market ranch, the spotlight-less Sens continue to plug away in Boston tonight, as they remain one step ahead of Toronto in 5th place, but tied with the Leafs point total.

When grilled by a reporter about Jakob Silfverberg’s giveaway that led to Kadri’s third goal of the night, ‘The Walrus’ MacLean had this to say about his player:

“Jakob was just trying to make a play. And sometimes, when you’re trying to make a play in hockey, you make a mistake. But you know – he’s been playing very well so if it’s alright with you, I think I’ll play him next game.”

The Leafs and the rest of the large market teams will continue to starve for the next Gretzky or Lemieux – and they will sometimes gloat when a small battle has been won – but the real war rages on.