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Sunday morning deglaze

Sunday, April 29, 2007

...because this is way overdue.

(Apparently that's supposed to be Daniel Alfredsson. I don't get it either.)

So, the Game 2 curse lives on. It was a disappointing outcome to be sure, but the cynics should be somewhat placated by the majority of Ottawa's overall effort. It was a brutal beginning, but the Sens keep proving that they possess the ability to regroup and press forward. It's quite the hat tip to their visible maturity and as long as it continues, it will serve as a hope-filled reminder to those who obsess over the demons of the past -- in spite of such stumbling blocks as overtime losses.

I'm really hoping that people seize this opportunity to celebrate Daniel Alfredsson and the positively brilliant post-season he's had thus far. I realize there's a long way to go, but he seemingly can't do a thing wrong these days -- it's the ultimate demonstration of leading by example. That's why I'm left in disbelief when "observers" such as Mike Bossy begin spouting on Off The Record that if the Sens can't get it done this year, No. 11 has to go. You've got to be kidding me, right? Care to back up that argument with any recent examples of leadership gone awry in the Nation's Capital?

A few more bits and pieces about last night's game...

Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov are always going to be a huge part of the Sens' defense, but this is the series where the others -- the offensive blueliners -- are integral to second-round success. In short, it's all about risk and reward. This is the time to obsess over Redden's universally famous "first-line pass" (one that both Corvo and Preissing are also capable of accomplishing, by the way). All plays and passes become stretched to invade beyond the trap, and obviously the defensemen act as the catalyst. The blueliners have also been required to join the rush in an attempt to increase traffic and keep the puck onside. Obviously you're taking chances and if you get caught pinching...well, you end up with OT goals courtesy of Jamie Langenbrunner. To be fair, Joe Corvo made an effort to chase the Devil down. Preissing, on the other hand, failed to kick it into high gear. There's got to be a bigger effort than the one made by No. 42.

I know some people get on Antoine Vermette's case, claiming that he's soft and needs to ramp up the offense (for the record, Mike Fisher needs to improve on the latter as well, but that demi-deity always seems get away scot-free). It's probably true, but let me tell you one thing: Vermette's the only Ottawa player I trust to get to the puck first every time. Speed is a much bigger issue for this team than a lot of people want to admit. I think the over-under on the number of times I yelled, "SKATE!" last night was probably 50.

One more thing -- after the game, Martin Brodeur did an interview with the CBC. Here was the conversation between The Driver and myself as it aired:

Me: "Look at that hand holding the recorder, sticking out from behind the wall."

The Driver: "I see it."

Me: "It's all I can concentrate on."

The Driver: "I bet it's (Bruce) Garrioch."

Ten seconds later, we were both cracking up. Here's why:

And just in case you need additional confirmation (dude motors out of there pretty quickly), here's a still:

One more thing (and on a completely unrelated note): Damn NBC to hell for their afternoon games. They caused TSN to switch feeds yesterday at 3 pm from the NFL Draft (a.k.a. The Brady Quinn Watch) to Game 2 between the Sharks and Red Wings. After Miami took Ted Ginn Jr. instead of Quinn with the No. 9 pick, the whole draft turned into a total train wreck. The former Notre Dame QB was sitting there with an indescribable look of shock on his face -- all dolled up, sporting a pinstripe vest and dapper tie. He looked like he was on break from dealing the Pai Gow Poker tables at Mandalay Bay. I could've watched the fallout all day. Instead, I got another 30 minutes give or take, with no conclusion (because Quinn STILL hadn't been taken by the time the feed switched). For the record, Quinn went 22nd (!) to Cleveland, and breathed an ironically happy sigh of relief at doing so. Too bad I was unable to see it occur live.

More later.


Friday, April 27, 2007

I know the blog's been quiet, but here's the deal: The column needs to be written after last night's game, but before Saturday's. Obviously, situations and events can change radically in that time, and I have to be prepared for it. I'm holding onto a bunch of material that normally I would post here, but because I have yet to settle on a topic for Sunday, I have to hold off in case I need it for the paper. Whatever I don't use will be posted here whenever I'm done -- I'll try and get on it as soon as I can.

Don't believe what you read...

Monday, April 23, 2007

...unless it's coming from the Devils' website.

The Devils-Sens series is starting on Thursday -- not Tuesday as some media have reported.

Goodnight Angelina, goodnight...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let no one speak your name again until this June. Potentially next on the docket from Stuff Magazine's Hot 100: Elisha Cuthbert (the real one). We know who the media wants the Sens to face in the next round, and 10 to 1 says they all make feeble attempts to dress better if they catch wind of the frat-boy mag fave being within 100 km of the city -- you know, because they all have a shot at getting with her. Personally, I'm hoping for it as well -- simply due to the plethora of 24 references that'll inevitably come out. By the way Kim, tell your dad to feel free to lay out Silver Spoons. He's annoying as all hell.

Late night cleanup

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

(Worst Photoshop ever, but made me laugh, so it gets a pass. I found this over at The Book of Face -- anti-Angie groups encompass at least 60% of all found. My favourite one, simply based on title alone: Sidney Crosby Is An Advertisement Slut.)

Emails are still trickling in regarding Sunday's column. One the more interesting messages (when it wasn't chastizing us about Wayne Gretzky -- whaa?) had some thoughts regarding Crosby's perception if, say, he suddenly sported a different uniform. Here are the pertinent excerpts:

"Clearly you are not a fan of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That's fine. You are entitled to feel however you wish. I am curious how much of it has to do with the fact that the Penguins are an American franchise and that is not one of the Original Six...If Crosby played for Ottawa or Toronto or Montreal the tune would sound a lot different."


The Original Six gaffe -- let's allow that to slide. What about this missive screams "American fan" to you? Oh, I don't know -- the idea that Ottawans would accept Sidney Crosby if he sported a Leafs or Habs sweater in the postseason (or at any time, for that matter)? You've got to be joking. Every Canadian that follows hockey, regardless of whether they care about them, is aware of the team rivalries in this country. And if the American media were doing their part, the U.S. fans would probably have a much better understanding of them. That being said, there are tons of sites, blogs etc., devoted to coverage of teams and specifically, Canadian rivalries -- may we present Exhibits A and B.

Here's what it boils down to: Putting Sidney Crosby in a Leafs or Habs uniform, and ultimately having him face the Sens in the playoffs would make the vocal displeasure from Games 1 and 2 look like a walk in the park. He would be despised. Vilified. Envision Darcy Tucker with a plethora of talent and pockets stuffed with Carmex. Oh, but he'll be in a Canadian uniform, so that'll make his North of the Border detractors love him? Yeah, we all care about those sorts of things so much these days.

A few leftovers from last night's game:

- About the Zamboni driver up there -- speculation is already beginning and some are wondering if Dany Heatley is dealing with an undisclosed injury. There's absolutely no jump to his game and he can't put anything away, even if it's gift-wrapped. His backhand specifically, is totally off the mark. It's gotten to the point where he's begun to hurt, more than help.

- Speaking of hurting more than helping: Barring a miracle, Wade Redden's time in Ottawa is undoubtedly drawing to a close. The turnovers, the lack of mobility combined with complete and utter weakness when faced with the likes of Gary Roberts -- this isn't working. Sporadic, well-played games will never justify a 6.5 million dollar salary. Is he leading off the ice? That's for the dressing room to know. What is known is if Redden were leading during play as-is, the series would be over by now...and tilted in the wrong direction.

- How did Mike Comrie go without a star last night? Another great performance from him.

- Let's just say it: Oleg Saprykin is as gritty as a triple-cream Brie, and rustier than a 1981 Honda Civic.

- Why is Gary Roberts allowed to bogart Emery's blue paint on a Penguins' PP without fear of reprisal? You know if it were the other way around, the old man would be cross-checking the Sens' player in the back, ad nauseam.

- Colby Armstrong won't be adored in this city anytime soon, but he gets points for this mature decision.

Hopefully today will be the last day where the media will incessantly remind us of who lost, rather than pointing out who won. Hopefully.

More later.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Yeah, go ahead and act like you weren't thinking it as well.

You can claim, a la Don Cherry, that Colby Armstrong had nowhere to go, but that still doesn't justify him flying in low, and bringing his shoulder into Patrick Eaves' head (who was having an above-average series before this, by the way). Fair hits aren't always acceptable hits. Claims of remorse were made, but Armstrong didn't seem to have any problem with running Ray Emery full-steam in Game 2 -- you know the guy is going to pull stuff like this. Retaliation by the Sens was measured tonight, but the meanness level still needs to be ratcheted up a notch -- without taking unnecessary penalties (like Christoph Schubert's late in the third).

Dean McAmmond dropping the gloves last night was hysterical. Dangly arms, and didn't seem to react at all to Maxime Talbot's first punches. It reminded me of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer becomes a boxer, and allows his opponents to hit him until they tire themselves out. (Scroll to the :37 mark for a refresher -- this is worth watching just to hear the theme from The Contender again.)


Yet another word on the PP -- what on Earth is the point of having a player like Dany Heatley down low? He won't fight to stay in position in front, and if he's standing to the side, he's useless unless the pass/rebound comes directly to him. If it's in his vicinity, he's inevitably beaten to the puck by a nearby Penguin, due to his incessant floating.


Can we please acknowledge what a great playoff series Chris Kelly is having so far? He's always willing to do the dirty work, and I was so thrilled for him when he scored in Game 2 -- if the kid's got a knock, it's his woefully lead-filled hands. On the flip side of the coin: Memo to Dany Heatley -- the playoffs have started. You can begin scoring now.


Not much negativity via the email regarding yesterday's column -- I had one missive which referred to me as "brain dead" that was also sent to the op-ed section, so I'm sure you'll be able to catch that in the paper in a couple of days. Good times. Strangely enough when I wrote the guy back, he wasn't able to come up with a reason why it's unacceptable to boo Crosby, yet taunting Marc-Fleury is considered fair game. Actually, none of Crosby's supporters in Ottawa have been able to explain how that works. Funny that. Where should we turn in times like these for a bit of common sense? Would you believe...a Leaf fan? From the TUC inbox:

Good morning Erin,

Great article today. I live in Ottawa but bleed Blue and White and I had
some buddies saying how classless of the Sens fans etc. But I agree with
you 100%. When you purchase a ticket you have the right to voice
whatever opinions you want. I don't think Sidney goes home and cries
afterwards. I think it's great to see the building so loud and into the
games because it seems to only happen when the Habs or Leafs are in town
and that's only because the fans are 50/50. No I don't have a rev up the
red shirt or Sens car flag but I guess if a Canadian team has to win
well.............I'll leave it at that.

Two words: Gets it.

P.S. Do you think anyone in the Ottawa media will have anything to say about the boos that were heard during O Canada last night? There was a boy in the building from Cole Harbour, NS last night -- good God, it's happening again! (In all seriousness -- a truly classless demonstration by those select Pens fans, and a proper demonstration for media members like Hugh Adami that provided the real definition of unsportsmanlike behaviour.)

Good news and tense moments

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Whatever was/is ailing Christoph Schubert's neck did not keep him from traveling to Pittsburgh tonight -- he was spotted in the airport, along with the rest of the team. The Sens also had a sketchy moment this evening, when Customs and Immigration were insisting that they were off-duty at 7 pm -- the time when the team was scheduled to leave. After a few tense minutes, Customs was finally convinced to stay on duty until 8 pm, allowing the Sens to clear Immigration and board their flight to the U.S.

First off, credit to Pittsburgh for coming away with a victory. Now onto the important stuff...

Mike Comrie has come into his own in this playoff series -- the effort is non-stop, combined with the feistiness of a little dude with a chip on his shoulder. Better still, if you were watching the telecast, you may have seen Comrie taking a leadership role during the PP, in an attempt to improve its effectiveness -- chirping at his teammates when they became sedentary. (More on this later.) Obviously, the Sens will not have salary cap room to retain Comrie in the offseason, but here's a question: How much money does the heir of The Brick fortune need? Comrie's salary likely resembles a slush fund to him -- 10 to 1 says he "invests" it in pimped out hot tubs and a truck like Jon Lieber's.

On to the PP, which obviously is still an issue. Alfredsson was able to put one away (displaying a large amount of joy and relief in the process), but some of the same problems from Game 1 still remain -- although there was some improvement with the play being brought down low. A new issue has arisen, and while it's been a known weakness for the Sens in the past, they likely thought it wouldn't rear its ugly head in this series: The dreaded faceoffs. Pittsburgh was relegated to the bottom of the barrel in faceoff wins during the regular season -- today was a different story. Maxime Talbot won 66 per cent of his (19-29) and Angie came away with 11 out of 14, or 79 per cent. On the other side of the coin, Mike Fisher went 6 for 19, Jason Spezza was 12 for 23 and Antoine Vermette ended up going 4 for 9. Adding to the frustrations were faceoffs that weren't won cleanly, making it difficult to get quick shots off while inside the offensive zone.

And finally, memo to Angie and Maxime Talbot: Were penalties deserved after you received respective shots to the throat and nose? Perhaps. But how's about you not fling your head back in a soap opera-worthy performance, followed by a blatant stare at the adjacent official in a feeble attempt to garner sympathy?

Lynx' "Make Your Pitch" winner announced

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sorry, I'm a bit late on this, but here's the press release:

OTTAWA – The Lynx Stadium mound has seen future All-Stars for 15 seasons. Tuesday, April 17th, 10-year-old Sam Muise will join them and kick off the 2007 season when he throws out the ceremonial first pitch Opening Day.

Nominated by his father, Joe Muise, Sam won the "Make Your Pitch" contest on www.ottawalynx.com where fans nominated friends, family, co-workers and complete strangers to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2007 season—the 15th season in Lynx history. The successful nomination reads:

“My son Sam, 10 years old, survivor of a brain tumor at the age of 7. He loves the Lynx, goes to most every game, brings a buddy to most games and uses his own paper route money to buy the ticket. A dedicated fan and really nice kid.”

Joe Muise was very excited to learn of Sam’s good luck. “He’ll be pretty excited,” said the senior Muise. “This is a bit of a surprise. He’ll be pretty pleased.”

A Lynx season-ticket holder, Joe estimates that he and Sam see about 50 games per year. Sam also goes to baseball camp for a week each year.

“He loves the Lynx and baseball in general. I took him to his first game when he was three years old and he’s loved it ever since,” he said.

This is the first season the Lynx are the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Lynx home opener is scheduled for April 17th against the Charlotte Knights at 7:05pm. The Lynx Box Office is Open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm. Ticket information can be found at www.ottawalynx.com or by calling 613 747-LYNX (5969).

This is why we're avoiding the SBP like the plague -- from Chris Stevenson's blog:

There is a big media throng following the Senators-Penguins series and everybody is fighting for space and quotes and angles.
My favourite question so far, addressed to Senators winger Dany Heatley this morning:
“What’s the advantage of winning Game 1 of any series?”
“You’re up 1-0?” asked Heatley.

Who dared to make this inquiry? A hint would be nice. We'd love to discuss the relevance of their employment in an open forum.

Here's my third favourite. The Mark Chumura one is stellar, but Deadspin bagged it, and the Tim Couch one is too graphic. If you want to see the rest, go here.

I'm sorry about the restrictions, but apparently some people can't tell the difference between an US Magazine lede, and the NHL playoffs. I've been besieged by women obsessed with Angelina Jolie (the real one) -- they've crashed my email. Whatever their grievances are, I'd like for them to blow over before I reinstate the blog's access. Thanks for understanding.


Everyone will analyze and trip over this game to death -- I'll let the others handle the breakdowns, because it's not my cup of tea...in this series at least. I've purposely avoided 90% of all television media over the past 48 hours, because I couldn't handle the perpetual rehash and arguments over semantics. I watched the first four minutes of Off The Record yesterday evening where Pierre McGuire fawned over Gary Roberts, and my blood pressure shot up about 15 points.

That being said -- a couple of quick points:

I can't remember the last time, regular season or playoffs, when I saw the Sens play with such chemistry and utter effectiveness. Phenomenal work from the defense -- Chris Phillips was on fire, Anton Volchenkov was working the bodies and Joe Corvo (CORVO!) was totally dialed in. All pairings should be extremely happy with their performance on Wednesday night. Not only was the pseudo-Angelina Jolie* contained, they were rendered virtually ineffective.

Speaking of The Pretty One and their disallowed goal -- if that had happened to say, Ryan Malone, the goal would have counted. It takes supreme consciousness to actively kick the puck in such a situation. It's obvious that's what the NHL thought they were doing, because they're certainly aware of Angie's reactionary abilities. Anyone else, and it's undoubtedly considered to be a fluke. Every once in a while, it sucks to be a phenom.

As for the Sens crowd -- they must be Jennifer Aniston fans, because the boos rained down on Jolie all night. The jury's still out on the metallic pompoms -- they seemed like a good idea in theory (certainly better than the ThunderStix), but they don't make much of an impact on camera.

A couple of minor quibbles -- Emery has got to watch his rebounds. A large number of them were Manatee-esque. The PP also needs a major kick in the pants. Two 5-on-3s with no results? Ack. The Penguins were pushing the Sens to the outside with a great degree of effectiveness, and Alfredsson quickly ended up on vasectomy duty from the point. Something obviously needs to change, and getting noses dirty with battles down low would be a very nice start.


*We're not saying their name, because Pittsburgh readers trip out whenever I reference that player. I still get emails about the critical '05 piece from Penguins fans, and offering a blatant response indicating that my opinion has changed a fair amount, has yet to placate a single Pittsburgh supporter. Whatever. Angelina Jolie and said player are both revered and possess prominent cavitas oris. That'll do fine as a moniker. Now I'll just sit back and wait for the Pennyslvania-based emails to roll in, accusing me of referring to their assistant captain as a sexually confused, incestuous, spouse-pilfering whore. I love my job.

*** Greetings, overseas message boards for women -- This post has absolutely NOTHING to do with Angelina Jolie the actress, or any female that may resemble her. This is a sports blog, and this post pertains to the National Hockey League. Please do not approach tabloids with a supposed scoop, unless you consider The Hockey News a tabloid. Thank you.

Not-so-blind item

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Which NHL GM is rooting for the Penguins to advance past the Sens in the postseason? Although he won't admit it outright (doing so would suggest failure in his roster selection abilities), he's blatantly hinted at a preference in facing the Penguins and their woeful D, because they present a better matchup against his own team -- which is also sparse on the blueline.

Fantastic news coming out of the capital as the Sens nailed down integral defenseman Anton Volchenkov to a three-year deal, which will see No. 24 remain as a Senator beyond his first opportunity to declare unrestricted free agency.

UPDATE: Salary breaks down as follows: Volchenkov will get $2.1 million next season, $2.2 million in 2008-09 and $3.2 million in 2009-10.

UPDATE #2: Reports coming out late Tuesday stated that Chris Phillips will be avoiding unrestricted free agency, as he has signed a four-year, 14 million dollar contract with the Sens.

We weren't even looking for an excuse to reprise the picture, but Eddie, being the nice guy that he is, gave us a prime opportunity.

From TSN.ca:

Florida Panthers goalie Ed Belfour was arrested at a popular South Beach bar early Monday after a scuffle with a police officer.

Belfour and teammate Ville Peltonen were at the bar when security guards from the club asked police to make Belfour leave, police said.

The 41-year-old goaltender from Carman, Man., refused and walked towards the officer "in a fighting stance" and pushed him, a Miami Beach police report said.

Belfour pulled away from the officer trying to arrest him and grabbed his shirt. Belfour then fell forward on the ground, kicking and refusing to place his hands behind his back, the report said.

Belfour had slurred speech, blood shot eyes and smelled of alcohol, police said. He was charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer without violence.

Peltonen, 33, was charged with criminal mischief after he broke a metal pole off a fire rescue truck parked in the area, a police report said. (Ed. note: Whaa? I'd love to know how this happened.)

Belfour is being held at Miami-Dade County Jail on $1,500 bond. Peltonen is being held on $500 bond.

While playing for the Dallas Stars in 2000, Belfour pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest following a scuffle with a security guard at an upscale hotel. He was sentenced to two years' probation and a $3,000 fine.

The Panthers, who missed the NHL playoffs, completed their schedule Saturday with a loss to the Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. Belfour did not play in the game.

Let's all be nice to the Leafs

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The following is a transcript taken from last night's Hockey Night In Canada broadcast, immediately after the Leafs' victory over the Canadiens. Don Cherry and Ron MacLean were discussing the upcoming Devils-Isles tilt that would ultimately decide the Leafs' fate, and who would be starting in goal for New Jersey:

Cherry: "Not a good thing if (Lamoriello) doesn’t play (Martin) Brodeur tomorrow – you have to be fair on this here. I remember I had the Boston Bruins we were home free, we couldn’t lose, and I played (Gerry) Cheevers because you’ve got to be fair and if he plays (Scott Clemmensen), that’s not fair."

MacLean: "Scott Clemmensen, the word is about 98% that they're leaning towards (Lou Lamoriello of course is the coach) that they’re putting him in."

Cherry: "I’m just saying it’s not fair if you don’t go 100%. Also, say a guy brings his son to the game, he pays 300 bucks the whole deal and he wants to see (Martin) Brodeur, it’s not fair, that’s all I’m saying. It’s not fair, and he’d better play him or someday down the line Lou’ll want a favour too."


Come on now -- I know no one expects in this day and age for Don Cherry to be unbiased, but do we need to make lame excuses for a desired New Jersey victory to soften the blow? You need to be "fair" because ultimately one day "Lou'll want a favour too?" Yeah, I'm sure that guy's really concerned with something like this. You undoubtedly want to be sure that you have the Leafs' back, after all.

Oh, and nice effort to drag the poor father-and-son scenario out -- apparently waiting all this time to see Martin Brodeur, and are throwing down a chunk of change this aft to come and see the child's hero, only to be thwarted by the vicious buzzkill known as Scott Clemmensen. I guess the only chance said father and son had to come to a home game prior to this was October 19th -- that's the last time this season that Brodeur didn't play on home ice.

And Don, one more thing -- if you really interested in keeping it even, should Jersey be playing their third-stringer from Lowell against Wade Dubielewicz?

Fairness -- what a concept. Hopefully both teams will come together at the conclusion and share a bowl of orange slices. Let's bring back ties, while we're at it. That way, everyone wins!

Pass the buck

Thursday, April 05, 2007

(Alternate title: Better Late Than Never)

Okay, so after the Lynx' Media Day I got a bit sidetracked and ran a few errands. Long story short, I'm about twelve hours behind posting. My deepest apologies, especially considering that traffic was exceedingly heavy following Tuesday's PPV -- a trend that has continued since the first broadcast game. PPV truly is good for one thing from my standpoint -- TUC's popularity. Thank you again for your support. (I sound like a Bartles & Jaymes commercial, and yes, I know I'm dating myself heavily by stating so.)

Alrighty then -- let's get to the game itself.

Firstly, I learned my lesson several games ago, and began viewing PPV broadcasts anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour after the puck was dropped. Here's an elementary math lesson for next year that I suggest all of you learn: PVR + PPV = freedom. Of course with the PVR, you can start the game on time and pause to grab a snack, answer the phone, go to the bathroom etc. But if you start late, it also allows you to fast forward through the lagging segments, thus reducing the frustrating nature of the broadcast itself. Pure genius. PVR is a necessary tool for any hockey fan to logistically survive the NHL's pay-per-view broadcasting. I highly suggest to anyone who's thinking of ponying up for this "service" again to invest in the box.

(Aside: Does it sound like I could sell PVRs? I have a traditional digital box in my bedroom, and it might as well be a Betamax. The thing is useless. I've heard of people becoming addicted to TiVo in the States, and now I totally understand. I swear, one of these days I'll be out and about, and will raise my hand as if I'm holding a remote control, attempting to pause and rewind real life.)

Alright, so we all know what happened -- the game cut out with approximately four minutes left in the second period. The Senators put up a "technical difficulties" slate, and all of sudden we were on the Devils' feed. (Rob Brodie reports that Bell ExpressVu fans were even less fortunate.) We weren't privy to much of the Devils' broadcast -- the tale end of a discussion regarding Lou Lamoriello and a commercial was all that was shown, before the Sens feed returned. We caught the last bit of Roy Mlakar interview, and the 3rd period began at 19:30.

Now the Sens aren't going to think much of this, but remember that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy stepped out of her tornado-blown home, and into that magical land? That's what the Devils' feed was like to me. Colour...clarity...legible words...it was fantastic. And then it was gone. I'm not kidding -- I was crestfallen.

For the record, we also received a moment of foreshadowing in the 2nd when the feed suddenly switched to a screen listing the channels for an MLB preview. I sent a friend an SMS when the first glitch occurred. Here's what he sent back:

"Consider that an upgrade. Expect an extra $5 on your next cable bill."

Cut to this morning when the major fallout obviously began. The cable companies allegedly won't take the blame, because they state the problem had nothing to do with their end of the broadcast (in other words, the delivery of the feed to customers) -- it should be noted however, that some have been handing out full or partial refunds. During an interview with J.R and Garry Galley on the Team 1200 yesterday aft, Jim Steel, the Sens' V.P. of broadcasting, made a feeble attempt to smooth things over. The reason the Sens are offering (via Steel) is that the company providing many franchises and sports (MLB, NHL etc.) with the routing of the feeds, had a major glitch. Hence the loss of the feed -- hence the loss of many other feeds from other games. Long story short, don't blame the Sens.

Hmmm. I guess the Devils don't use said company to route their broadcasting. Funny that.

However, the highlight of the interview came when J.R. brought up the clarity of the broadcasts themselves. The reason Steel gave (and I'm paraphrasing because I was listening in the car) was that the Sens played most of the PPV games on the road in older buildings (i.e. Mellon Arena, MSG etc.). These buildings have poor angles for cameras to use, which accounted for the disappointing quality of the feed.

Mr. Steel, two questions: 1) Did the Penguins and Rangers supply the Sens with that subpar camera lens we're all forced to view the broadcast through; 2) What possible reason do the Senators have for the equally poor feed from Scotiabank Place itself, during a PPV game on March 8th? Granted I wasn't here during construction, but if the Sens' arena was built in the Precambrian Era, that's news to me.

The interview wrapped up with the perpetual dangling carrot known as HD PPV being thrown out once more ("at least two years away...definitely not next year, but we're seriously looking into it"), and I was left rolling my eyes in frustration.

The Sens can claim that there will be growing pains, and all teams had them when they made their initial foray into PPV. As a paying customer, I've earned the right to be impatient, and to expect more. I don't really care if someone is feeling their way through a process -- I'm spending my money on a service that this team is providing. Nearly everyone expects better for their $10.95, and the last thing they want to hear after a decidedly subpar attempt at five PPV games, are a multitude of excuses about remote cards and decrepit arenas.

They can dangle the carrot, but let me state right now that I won't be taking a nibble until it's within biting reach. To put it plainly: I have absolutely no intention of purchasing any other PPV games until the Sens broadcast the games in HD. End of story. They threw down the gauntlet -- let's see if they actually have it in them to pony up. This might mean that on weeks next year when games are on PPV, certain columns will not be Sens-related. I don't think many readers would have a problem with that.

Finally, let's finish this ramble off with an email from reader Mike, who made the unfortuate error of experiencing his first PPV game on Tuesday night. Think things are better at the bars? Think again.

Don't know if you're collecting PPV thoughts from readers this time,
but I thought I'd send along my first experience with the Sens PPV.

After listening to the first 4 PPV games on the radio, my wife and I
decided at the last minute to meet friends at the pub for a beer and
the game. That's where we ran into our first problem. We live in
Barrhaven and our usual spot when we go out for Sens games is
Greenfields. However, we got there and discovered that they hadn't
ordered the game. We moved on to the Barley Mow and discovered the
same thing. Finally we moved on the Broadway B&G which we knew would
have the game and just barely snagged the last table in the place (in
a less than primo location obviously) just as the anthems were ending.

So our first discovery was that uptake of the the PPV, at least in
Barrhaven, was less than stellar. Only one of the 3 main bars in
B'haven had. Not that B'haven is a typical bar scene, but in one of
the largest suburbs, we had a tough time finding the game. I don't
know if uptake is similar elsewhere.

We couldn't really hear the audio, so I can't comment much on the
broadcast itself. I will sadly never know what Chris Phillips had to
say about his shed, nor will I know the answer to "Who is funnier Dean
or Gord". One thing I did notice (and annoyed me) was that on the two
screens I could see, there was no sign of the game clock or score. I
think this might have just been Broadway's set-up though. The
"technical difficulties" apology message was cut off on one screen but
visible on the other.

At one point during the game the menu for MLB Extra Innings popped up
for about 30 seconds. I'm not sure if this was a mistake by someone at
the bar, or if it was the feed but I assume the former.

Of course the topper was the outage late in the second period.

I can't imagine having paid for PPV. I know I'd be among those calling
Rogers this morning if I had, and I wouldn't be a repeat customer.

Grade for Tuesday night's broadcast: D

Final PPV Grade: Honestly, I'm hovering between a C- and D. I get a twinge of sympathy approximately once a fortnight, and I seem to be coming down with it at present. If you have seen some (or all) of the games, send in your grades and I'll post them later.

Ammunition stockpile

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

After last night's utter debacle on pay-per-view, you can trust that I have a parting shot for the final game we were privy to (and I use that phrase loosely) vs. New Jersey.

However, at the moment I'm tied up with some prep work for the Lynx' Media Day tomorrow (thank God), and I have no intention of filing a half-assed overview/sob story column, in lieu of actual research. I've PVRed the game, and there are a couple of things I want to review first. Anticipate my final thoughts sometime this afternoon...after I call Rogers Cable, of course. Somehow I doubt I'll be the only one.

Reach much?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You'd think with so much in the NHL coming down to the wire, fans would be caught up in potential playoff races -- not so in Vancouver, at least, not tonight apparently. There's speculation that Vancouver fans are chomping at the bit to let D Jack Johnson have it during this evening's matchup vs. the Kings.

The reason? Johnson was the one that laid an elbow to the face of Canada's Steve Downie during the 2006 World Junior Championships, which took place in Vancouver. The belief is that a lot of bitterness remains towards L.A.'s new rookie out west.


Now don't get me wrong -- I'm not condoning cracks to the face with an elbow joint, but aren't we reaching a bit much? Sure, this is the scene of the crime (for lack of a better phrase), but what other connections are there? Downie isn't a Canucks prospect -- he was drafted by the Flyers (2005 -- 29th overall). I also don't think it's a stretch to say that Downie is hardly the most sympathetic of figures. Personally, my support for Team Canada's Junior Team has cooled considerably since his arrival, and I know of many others with a staunch dislike of Downie, despite their support for Team Canada.

If this is the way Vancouver fans feel, obviously there isn't anything that can be done. I just find it pointless to remain bitter over an event with players that they have no connection to, with the exception of the city where said incident occurred.

The Caps earned six Jagrs

Monday, April 02, 2007

Yet another ratings list from ESPN.com -- this one coming via Page 2. It's the Pain and Suffering list -- a compilation of teams from the MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL that lists the teams that have inflicted the most misery upon their fans. Here's the formula:

[(Seasons in playoffs) + (losing seasons) + (non-playoff seasons) + (finals losses) + (finals losses in past 25 years) + (Soul-sucking moments) + (seasons without a title)] - [(winning seasons) + (playoff seasons)]


seasons without a title

For the record, neither the Sens nor Leafs made the list, but teams like the Flyers, Sabres, Canucks and Kings did (as well as others). Check it out -- it's worth a look for the heads alone, and you can bet your ass you'll be seeing some of those around here in the future.


With a handful of games left, New Jersey assumes that lightning can strike twice -- they've fired head coach Claude Julien, and "Segmented Eyes" Lamoriello will be taking over behind the bench.

Can we see a show of hands of who's willing to take this job when it opens up again? You work towards something for ages, only to have it snatched away at the last second -- and the Devils have done it more than once. It's like a guy getting a chance to copulate with Jessica Alba, only to come down with a case of PE. So close, and yet...so far.

(That photo has nothing to do with anything -- I just thought it was awesome. For the record, there is a real Paul Shaffer Drive in Thunder Bay, but no Curt Harnett Avenue. WTF?)

Alright, let's get on with it. Call it: Pittsburgh or New Jersey. Who would you rather see the Senators face? Right now, I'm picking the Devils. Now before you begin tripping out, hear me out:

1) Jersey's not the hot team -- Pittsburgh is, and you never want to face the hot team;

2) I'm thinking bigger picture here -- ultimately I think Jersey will be a more significant (and necessary) test for the team, because everyone knows the playoffs are ultimately about defense. You might rate the Devils' defense as average, whereas the Penguins' is subpar, but there's no contest in respect to goaltending. A series victory over Martin Brodeur is always worthy of attention and respect;

3) The longer the Devils stick around in the postseason, the stronger they get. Kill them off while you have the chance;

4) While a possible series victory over the Devils is noteworthy, the seven games or less it takes to accomplish it, is not. Ottawa only garners playoff interest based on their opponent, and everyone knows that the Devils' play won't attract large numbers. On the other hand, the idea of Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby embarking on their postseason maiden voyage will have the media in a lather. Let another team play the passenger on that hype machine's wild ride;

5) A two-word built-in excuse: Gary Roberts. If Ottawa plays New Jersey, it's not an issue. If the Senators were to lose in the postseason to Pittsburgh, I'm staunchly certain that the local media would claim that one of the main reasons was due to Roberts playing for the opposition -- regardless of his relevance during the series. He's not in an Ottawa uniform, and there are some residents of this city that need to get over it, fast.

Obviously there are pros and cons to both teams -- either team has the potential to beat Ottawa, and I think that the Senators can beat either of these teams in the postseason. Some might say that after the issues that Ottawa's defense has faced over the course of the season, the ability to shut down a high-powered offense like Pittsburgh's would be a coup. I'd rather attempt to remain confident in the Sens' defense for the meantime, and see the offense take out another team that's notorious for shutting the opposition down. History has shown they're the types of teams that tend to go the furthest, and eliminating a franchise that plays in such a fashion seems more significant to me.

Other bits and pieces...

Reader Kathleen has offered up a blog for us to check out called Big Body Presence -- a bit of info, a bit of humour...my only quibble is that the site is quite new, so I'd like to see how they develop before I give a final ruling... but so far, not bad.

Did you know that Liam Maguire has a blog? Liam's so damned stellar -- I think the guy's hilarious, and his blog doesn't disappoint. He's been tackling the issues of the day in his typical manner, after what appeared to be a hiatus from posting. Let's hope he keeps it up. Oh, and by the way -- past is past. Give the man a radio show again.

And finally, I'm wondering how much longer we'll be privy to TGOR/Team 1200 vs. The Citizen's Hugh Adami. In case you missed it, here was the opening shot. Seriously, is there anything better than a pointless media war? Not that I've been in one myself, but I'm always warmed by the usual, "Aren't we in this together?" emails that come after I've tweaked someone's nose. Those kill me.