Fusspot rants, embarrassing photos of yourself and general correspondence go here: universalnicks@gmail.com

Welcome to Trip City

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I remember a friend long ago (read: April) stating the following: "I want (the Senators) to face some real adversity (in the playoffs) and beat it. Then I'll know this is for real."

Well, they just got the first part of their wish.

The underlying sense of emotion is not solely comprised of panic and frustration right now. Bubbling very close to the surface is a strong hint of deja vu. However, it doesn't date back to bad games or periods versus any of the Sens' playoff opponents this season. To put it bluntly: I feel like the Sens are playing the Leafs again.

Taking nothing away from Anaheim -- they've proven they have talent. But there was never any proof to demonstrate that the Ducks were the overwhelming favourite to win the Cup against Ottawa.

Until now.

Just like the days of yore, the Sens are being outplayed, outhustled and outchanced (a hockey word if ever there was one, but I can think of no other way to describe it right now). Say what you want about Pronger and Niedermayer -- both are immensely gifted. But like a lot of offensive defensemen, both are capable of erring in their own zone, and neither has yet to bring their 'A' game to this series. Regardless, the point is moot because they haven't been called upon to act as the thoroughbreds that they're known to be -- Anaheim is accomplishing enough in other areas to get the job done, and neither of them (paired together or separate) has yet to see any offensive aggression from Ottawa's top line.

Meanwhile on many occasions, it appeared as if Ottawa was attempting to maintain a lead that didn't exist. The Ducks were freely allowed into the Ottawa zone to set up chances, and whenever Ottawa regained possession of the puck, it was just long enough to barely send it out of the zone for a line change. Then the whole process would start over again.

But the biggest indicator of history revisited came during the actual goal, when Alfredsson completely bailed on Samuel Pahlsson in an apparent (and horrifically timed) demonstration of respect for his fellow countryman. Simultaneously, Corvo began to skate towards the net (?!?!) and at the last second, attempted to feebly push Pahlsson out of the way with his ass.

In short, it was a sickening display and a devastating result for Ray Emery, who after tonight, deserves a lifetime exemption from a bill at Morton's for whenever the team is in SoCal.

Frankly, you could see this coming a mile away -- shut down the big line, and there's going to be issues. These issues currently come in the form of The Other Brother and a guy named after a faucet. And putting someone like Neil out there instead of Alfredsson will accomplish nothing. Neil hasn't made room for anyone on the ice since the Pittsburgh series, and Heatley and Spezza are attached at the hip. Does anyone really think Spezza's going to gain control of the puck and hand it off to Neil without considering virtually any other option first -- including his traditional last resort *gasp* -- shooting? We've always known that secondary scoring was going to be an issue, but guys like Vermette, Kelly and Schaefer have been M.I.A. for ages. To be a legitimate two-way forward, you've got to put the puck in the net occasionally.

As for the Topic Du Jour -- the dump and chase (or lack thereof): The Sabres during their series were perpetually attempting to skate the puck in, with brutal results. Now the Sens have inexplicably decided to try it themselves. Rule No. 1: Don't mirror the plays of a defeated team, especially if you were the ones to give them the boot.

*sigh* Alright, that's enough negativity for one evening. You're looking for some positives, right? Here they are:

1) Although Anaheim drastically curbed their penalties last night (three in the first, one in the second and none in the third), they're still coughing up the puck with 22 giveaways in Game 2;

2) The fourth line once again deserves credit for their effort. Putting Saprykin back in was the right call. He controlled the puck, didn't shy away from contact and his speed is always a welcome addition;

3) Ottawa has yet to bring anything resembling a significant effort in this series. Despite that, they've lost both games by only one goal.

Here's the reality: If Ottawa loses the Stanley Cup by continuing to play in such a fashion, all their work in this postseason will have been for naught. The choker label will return with a vengeance, and the fans of Ottawa will not tolerate this kind of regression so late in the season. I'll give The Driver the parting shot:

"If you're going to lose, lose like men. Don't puss out and jerk with people, because if you were going to pull this garbage, why did you even bother with the effort to get this far in the first place?"

I concur.

[Ed. Note: The following is an extremely long post. Consider yourself warned.]

By "you", I actually mean "me". Who am I? Other than the writer of this blog, I'm a sports columnist with a major Canadian daily in the Nation's Capital. At 28 years old, I'm the youngest sportswriter in Ottawa-Gatineau. I'm female. But most importantly (at least in respect to this post), I'm a person who legitimately cares about hockey and its relevance -- however debatable -- as a major league sport.

Unfortunately, none of this currently means a lick to the National Hockey League, because it's become blatantly obvious they would rather take a frozen puck to the uvula than grant me accreditation to the Stanley Cup Finals. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

Here's a synopsis of last week's events: I was told by my editor at Sun Media that accreditations for the Finals would be extremely hard to come by (hardly a surprising revelation). Traditionally, accreditation request forms have a set number of spots. Sun Media had already accounted for all spots in Anaheim and Ottawa -- which I was fully expecting. After all, they had to tend to their employees first, whereas I am a contracted writer.

At the encouragement of others and after informing my editor I was planning to do so, I approached the NHL on my own behalf to see if anything could be accomplished, even if it was only to obtain a practice pass. I sent e-mails to practically every major media relations member. I called the league offices in New York and Toronto. Every one of my calls and missives went unanswered.

Again, I knew the chances were slim, particularly with Game 1 creeping up on the 28th, but I figured I had nothing to lose. Meanwhile on Friday, William Houston of The Globe And Mail published this piece, detailing the lack of accreditation requests from both U.S. and Canadian outlets. Here are some clips:

When the Stanley Cup final starts Monday in Anaheim, most of the leading newspapers in the United States will be busy doing something else.

They certainly won't be sending reporters to Canada to cover the games in Ottawa, where connections are difficult and fares expensive.

"It's Disneyland against Parliament," one U.S. sportswriter said about the Senators-Ducks series. "Not only is it impossible to get directly from one place to another, but it takes a great deal of time and money.

"If I'm a sports editor, I say forget about it. I can spend my money on something better.

That mirrors the view of Newsday sports editor Hank Winnicki, who says the New York Yankees and Mets take priority at this time of year. "There's so much going on in New York that we have to throw everything we have at the big story," he said.

In addition to Newsday, newspapers not attending the Cup final will include the Washington Post, New York Post, Newark Star-Ledger, Dallas Morning News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and St. Petersburg Times. The New York Times won't commit past coverage of Game 1.

Even in the big regional hockey markets they're staying away. The Buffalo News gave it thumbs down. The St. Paul Pioneer Press won't attend. Minneapolis Star Tribune coverage will be limited to blogs filed by its beat writer from the first game to the third.

The two big Chicago dailies, the Tribune and Sun-Times, have been absent from the Stanley Cup final for years. And, in Hockeytown USA, both the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News are taking a pass.


The visiting contingent to Ottawa this spring won't be much larger. Those accredited for the final include USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Daily News, the two Philadelphia papers, the Inquirer and Daily News and Los Angeles Times.

In Canada, there may also be fewer newspapers covering the final. The Sun Media chain will use Ottawa Sun coverage for its newspapers, with the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones also filing columns. The CanWest chain will rely heavily on Ottawa Citizen coverage.

Initially I was buoyed by this admission, but I immediately became concerned by the attention paid to the absence of U.S. outlets. I thought perhaps this news could ironically work against me, due to the fact I was a Canadian writer -- I may be viewed as a surplus. My concerns were fortified when a friend (also in the business) sent this note:

I heard from one Professional Hockey Writers' Association member who said that the NHL is giving a lot of perfectly legitimate media people a very difficult time (for reasons that defy any sort of logic). The suspicion is that the NHL is desperately seeking the American media's heavy hitters (and hence to have to play it safe and keep spots open). Good luck with that, Commissioner Bettman.

Picture it: The NHL -- the high school boy, out of step with the rest of the cliques but desperate to seek validation, hungers for the attention of the most popular girl in school (the American media). She ignores him and regularly mocks him in front of anyone who will listen. Meanwhile, the girl with genuine interest (the Canadian media) might be plain and a bit of an oddball. But she legitimately cares about him, and yet he delivers the cold shoulder. This argument was solidified most recently by the league's incessant kowtowing to NBC during the playoffs -- who infamously demonstrated their gratitude by cutting the Sens-Sabres OT coverage in favour of the Preakness Stakes.

It sounds like original outline for Dawson's Creek -- except our Dawson in this case seems to forget that Joey Potter finally threw in the towel after chasing him for years, and ended up with Pacey Witter in the end...who could be represented by, I dunno... Mixed Martial Arts?

Fast-forward to Sunday morning. 3:21 A.M. EDT, to be precise. The following e-mail from the NHL arrives in my inbox:

Dear Mr. Nicks,

We do not credential freelance writers. Sorry.

Thank you for your interest.

Two incorrect statements in a three-line e-mail: 1) My gender (fabulous attention to detail from someone who is paid to observe such minutiae) and 2) The claim that the NHL doesn't offer credentials to freelance writers.

How do I know this?

It might have something to do with the credential for the '05 Entry Draft hanging in my office. The first post-lockout, closed-door draft featuring the one and only pseudo-deity known as Sidney Crosby. The new face of the NHL, live and in the flesh. I was there, and my position was no different than it is today. Again, I was warned that I would be hard-pressed to get in...but I did.

At the time, words couldn't express how excited I was at the opportunity. When I received word of my accreditation approval, I was in Las Vegas. I cut my trip short and grabbed the first red-eye back to Ottawa to prepare. I did it because I cared about the draft. I cared about the NHL.

And that's what makes this whole accreditation denial all the more perplexing. The NHL, contrary to its own toffee-nosed belief, is not operating from a position of power. It can't afford to treat any media regardless of stature in such an indifferent (and borderline insolent) manner, when its significance on the North American sporting stage is shrinking at a drastic rate. This league shouldn't be "thanking" people for their interest -- they should be tripping over themselves to express their gratitude. The NHL has so few in its corner; so few who are willing to step up and cover the sport, in a feeble attempt to provide it with some dignity. In spite of this, they continue to chase the big fish -- the American media -- whom they couldn't land if they waded for days while sporting bait-laden underwear. Meanwhile here I sit in Ottawa, after the niceties, formalities and e-mails forced me to check my ego at the door. I wanted them to know that the NHL was more than relevant to me. I wanted them to know it would be an extreme pleasure to cover their event. But apparently, that's not what they want. Go figure.

Why is the NHL trying to infuriate the media, when people like myself are doing everything in their power to demonstrate that they're willing to pay positive attention to their league when virtually no one else will? Maybe if I were Linda Cohn, they'd let me in. Maybe if I insulted them regularly on satellite and terrestrial radio, they'd grant me a pass. Maybe I'll pretend not to care.

Or maybe I'll legitimately stop caring altogether. Right now, I'm convinced that's what the league wants.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

This is going to be short because I'm heading out:

1) Alfie touched the Prince of Wales Trophy -- commence your freakouts;

2) Today is The Driver's birthday, so needless to say he's pleased;

3) The following is an e-mail from California -- NBC dropped the ball. Big time. It reads:

OMG I am SO (expletive) pissed right now. This is when I watch hockey, deep into the playoffs. The Sens and Sabres go to OT, and they flip to the (expletive) Preakness. I get it, they're obligated. But they don't put in on an alternate (expletive) channel! I thought they may flip it to CNBC, or one of their several other channels that are showing Bo Flex ads right now -- nope.

(Expletive) it, two wasted hours and no payoff. I refuse to go to a bar to watch the end of it. I tried to enjoy the NHL, for a couple of weeks anyway and this is what I get. Thanks NHL, thanks NBC. That's the last game I'll tune in to for a very long time.

See, the Americans care about hockey, but they have very little patience. Frankly after reading that, can you blame them?

4) Sign spotted during the second intermission (given away courtesy of Rock 97): "Slash the Sen's". The team's now known as the "Sen" -- since when? If this is the case I would have to ask, "Slash the Sen's what?" That's two grammatical errors for the price of one, kids.

Please be safe and behave yourselves tonight. You've been given a window to tell all the naysayers to chew it for now. I highly encourage you to do so.

More later.

We hope this silences James Duthie

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This is going to be fairly short, because the current series situation has caught between a rock and a hard place in regards to the column.

1) Two nights ago, James Duthie went full-blown OCD regarding the idea of the Sens facing a long layoff (as much as 12 days had they won last night). He brought it up at least three times before digging up the stats, and they read as follows: Three teams have gone 12-2 in the Semifinals, only to be beaten in the fourth round. They are the 1992 Chicago Blackhawks (swept in four), The 1995 Detroit Red Wings (swept in four) and the 2003 Anaheim Ducks (beaten in seven). Now it won't happen, so they can't talk about it anymore -- instead, they can talk about a Sens loss and the possibility (according to the media) of a Buffalo comeback/Senators chokejob. This team can't win (with the media, that is).

2) When I saw the Senators' starting lineup I almost choked, and 90% of my reaction was due to the defensive pairing listed. Why on Earth would Murray start the game with Redden and Meszaros? Why?

3) Pennywise's Knocked Down was played during the pre-game skate. Was LOVING that. Oleg Saprykin was the last off the ice, and shot a puck in the Buffalo net. The crowd cheered, but I remember thinking it was bad karma.

4) Guess who I was sitting beside last night? Go on, guess. I'll wait. Did you guess Dwayne Klessel? That's an E5. Frankly, I've never understood what the BFD was about this guy and why bloggers obsess about him, but anyways -- he looks nothing like he sounds, he's older than you'd think, eats a lot of popcorn and is need of a wardrobe overhaul/haircut. In other words, he fits right in with the majority of the population upstairs.

5) Scouts are nuts. One team in particular is beyond obsessive with their research -- I was blown away. I'm going to leave it at that, except to say that to see another team's assessment of the Senators without any kind of bias whatsoever (read: non-media and non-fan) was a total eye-opener.

6) The Sens didn't score after The Sweet Escape was played last night, but they did have a decent sequence. I say keep playing it. It's the only song the crowd can apparently keep in time with. By the way, the Senators also played a video montage set to Crowbar's Oh What A Feeling. This city's stuck in a Can-Con time warp.

Pompoms and teeth pulling

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rob Brodie had an interesting piece in today's Sun about a campaign to make Elgin Street into a "Sens Mile", and apparently a great deal of word of mouth is being spread via Facebook. Here's a clip:

"We don't have enough fans getting out together and celebrating," said Currey, whose Facebook group 'I Am An Ottawa Senators Fan' has attracted 12,000-plus members in just six months.


"I was in Buffalo on Saturday (for Game 2) and they had 7,000 people watching the game on the big screen. Calgary had the Red Mile.

"We need to get something going here."

If the Senators oblige by sweeping the Sabres with a win at Scotiabank Place tonight, Currey wants the mass display of support to begin right after the game.

While I largely don't have a problem with this (with the exception of "Mile" being used instead of "Street" -- alliteration and some feeble sense of originality would be nice), I can't help but notice that the whole thing seems so forced. Why aren't people just coming down to the Market on their own? And when it comes to fan activity, why can't anything be organic? Why do people have to be told what to do? When things are organized, it sucks the "coolness" factor (for lack of better term) right out of them. That's why I jumped on the Gwen Stefani thing with two feet -- it was naturally occurring on its own. Do you think anyone in Calgary or Edmonton honestly said, "Okay guys, we're going to watch the games in the bars, then everyone will move the party to the street, and we'll politely ask the women in the group to bare their breasts for our entertainment"? It just happened. I'm not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth here -- I'm glad someone's making an effort to get fans to participate in an obvious celebration. But the fact remains that people should be taking initiative, and making it happen on their own.

This would keep Tony Reali busy

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

There's some unbelievable material coming off Buffalo's WGR 550 website. They have a phone-in line where you can leave your complaints, and the audio rants are posted on the site each day. You seriously need to check this out -- you can find the page here.

[Photo credit: The Book Of Face]

(I actually took this photo during the New Jersey series. There was an inordinate amount of people dressed up last night, including a ton with painted faces and body parts -- everyone looked as if they overdid it on the Mystic Tan. I was freaked out by the fact that the painting seemingly had no age limit. There were plenty of older men painted up who would normally be seen during the 6 am rush at Cora's.)

Okay, okay...I'm here. I was at the game last night, and was up quite late (no, not because of that -- I was trying to clear some space on my DVR). A few things:

- I hope that A Channel's Ken Evraire doesn't coach a children's team of any sort, because his motivation skills really leave something to be desired. I was standing in the Red Zone with The Driver while checking out the festivities. At one point, Evraire appeared onstage with a microphone and said, "There are going to be some bad bounces that come Ottawa's way, and Buffalo are going to score some goals. Don't get your hopes up. Keep focused!" The Driver and I looked at each other as if to say, "Did that just happen?"

- How much more of a hint do you need that Daniel Alfredsson is a different guy? He did the post-game conference with his four-year-old son on his lap (who looks a lot like him, by the way).

- Gwen Stefani and the Senators are currently 2-for-2. The Sweet Escape was played before the sequence that led to Alfie's goal. My phone went nuts afterwards. Finger on the pulse, people! Now if only the team would play it more often.

- I overheard Daniel Briere being absolutely torched by some out-of-town media who were from one of cities where Briere is rumoured to end up after UFA. They ripped him to shreds, and that's before he's even changed jerseys into something more familiar.

- I was part of a rare phenomenon known as the Random Elevator Mock. I took a packed elevator down from the 4th level after the game. At one point, it stopped and opened its doors...to two lone Buffalo fans. It was like the world's slowest mocking drive-by. The doors parted, everyone laughed at and booed the Sabres fans for 12 seconds, the doors closed again and we were gone.

- I saw a rally cap/helmet movement being attempted on one of the Buffalo message boards last night, and 95% of the respondents were getting ready to plan their golfing season. Wow, they really are turning into us.

More later.

A guide to a grassroots movement

Monday, May 14, 2007

Good morning Ottawa Senators Hockey Club:

Allow me to speak plainly -- I know you'll read this, so permit me to offer a bit of advice to your audio/visual team for tonight: Play Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape.

Now I can hear you already: "Silly pseudo-media girl, we already play that song." I know that. Play it again. Play it several times tonight -- specifically the beginning. Here's a refresher:

You may have noticed that the home crowd has *gasp* taken some initiative and has been heard singing along to this portion of the tune during home games. You may have also noticed that this song was playing at the HSBC Arena right before Joe Corvo scored his game-winning OT goal on Saturday. Here's the clip (thanks to Peter Q. for the heads-up). That's your cue. Please, for the love of God, take the ball and run with it. You're on a national stage right now, and you're running out of time to find anything that remotely resembles a unique playoff identity -- and no, Bobby Lalonde doesn't count. I know other teams have played this song. Right now that doesn't matter -- the crowd has shown interest, and the song can be related back to a big playoff moment. And please, don't just play it once while turning the volume down during the relevant portions. News Flash: It doesn't work, and the crowd doesn't like it. Play it, play it loud -- put "Woo Hoo" and "Yee Hoo" respectively up on the screen for all I care, so people know what they're doing. I don't know if you've noticed, but this city can barely hold an "Alfie" chant together. They need all the help they can get, and this is a good start. Trust me.

Thank you,


(As for the rest of you attending tonight's game -- would a "Norwood" chant whenever the puck went wide-right be asking too much? Probably, right?)

Jacked up!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

(Derek Roy, getting in a few preliminary rounds before the 2008 Olympic Team is selected. He'll also be competing in the 3 metre springboard.)

It's late and I'm exhausted from yelling and doing the "Keep It Out" dance, so only a few points tonight:

- Memo to Don Van 'Mensa'hoven: Not calling interference after Chris Kelly was blatantly hit from behind by Brian Campbell was a mistake. Calling interference on Joe Corvo in OT for not knowing what to do with the puck was a mistake. In short, please brush up on your knowledge of the interference rule. Much obliged.

- How about that fourth line for Ottawa tonight? Huge respect to them, especially during those sequences mid-way through the third period where they refused to give up the puck deep in the Buffalo zone. As for Triple Cream Brie -- the guy who Muckler was so hot on that during a taping of OTR in March, he referred to him as "Spareekin" -- dude's got confidence for days. He's so sure of himself when he handles the puck. It's great to watch.

- Did you notice Murray playing the Corvo-Preissing pairing with Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson after a while? It wasn't happening all the time, but one wonders if the coach was trying to protect his shakiest defensive pairing by matching them up with the big line, in the hopes that the forwards would keep the puck in deep and away from 7 and 42.

- I'm dying to see how the media deals with "Corvo The Hero". It's obvious the guy tries hard, and he's one of the team's best interviews -- I'll be irked if disparaging monikers are referenced this morning after his great moment last night. Ease up for God's sakes and give the guy his due. He sure as hell deserves it today.

- And finally -- speaking of the media, how about that love-fest in the first segment of the Satellite Hotstove? Watching the media being forced aboard the Senators bandwagon is beyond hilarious. It must drive some of them absolutely crazy to go without at least one negative dig to use against Ottawa.

[Photo Credit: The Book Of Face]

No reason...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

...just thought you'd enjoy it.

[Photo Credit: The Book Of Face]

Just a question -- is the opposition's team located in Buffalo or Beachy Head? One hopes they don't hurt themselves jumping off the bandwagon en masse.

It was hardly a memorable performance from Ottawa last night -- the Preissing-Corvo pairing was completely off-kilter, appearing to function as a panicky mess for the majority of the evening. On the Afinogenov goal, Corvo charged out to the point in some sort of misguided attempt to cover Kalinin but stopped short, which left Preissing all alone on the wrong side. And of course, Corvo was a major part of the atrocious sequence in the third (along with Schubert) that saw Ottawa fail to get the puck out of the zone on five or six attempts. Jason Spezza's skating left a lot to be desired (he was barely moving his legs) and Alfie, who continues to work hard, seemed to struggle a bit with timing -- particularly during pass reception.

On the plus side (besides the obvious win) -- a wonderful performance from Mike Fisher. There were also two notables who rarely get mentioned these days: Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly. Kelly busts his ass every shift, and his role on the PK is so integral to the defensive success that the Sens' forwards have achieved thus far. You could also mention Vermette in the same breath, but it should be pointed out that he had a beautiful sequence vs. Afinogenov mid-way through the 3rd where he continued to pressure the Russian off the puck. That's the way you need to deal with this player (especially when he's clicking, and last night was one of those nights). The Vanek-Roy-Afinogenov trio seemed to be the line obtaining the most chances -- I loved Vermette's demonstration that Afinogenov could be contained. One note on "Jack White" Briere: He was a non-factor last night, but so was Gary Roberts in the first game vs. Pittsburgh, and Ottawa saw how that changed. Maybe he's hurt, but I'll postpone judgment for the meantime. And how about "Triple Cream Brie" Saprykin registering his first playoff goal as a Senator? It's about as unexpected as having two players wearing No. 61 in a series.

The next 48 hours should be interesting. I imagine Buffalo supporters will be regrouping their smack. After all, when some Sabres fans aren't referring to Dany Heatley as "a murderer", they've been keeping busy acting as the Sens' alarm clock. How very Super Bowl of them.

(Hmmm...there's that card to play as well, isn't there?)

More later.

[Photo Credit: The Book Of Face]



Here's Paul Devorski on the phone during the review of the Vermette goal. I kid you not -- this photo is completely unaltered, with the exception of miniscule adjustments made for clarity. Wassup?! (Sincerely, The year 2000.)

And here's Tom Preissing demonstrating how the Devils must feel after tonight's game:

Two out of three Hart Trophy candidates obliterated. You can't help but like that.

There really isn't much left to say about this series that hasn't already been stated -- there were more turnovers than a badly run small business, and no real hatred or drama which made for little buildup during the off-days. This of course, has led to a full-blown obsession with Elisha Cuthbert and her appearance at the SBP during Game 4. I was there but didn't see her. (I was in the auxillary portion of the Scott Norwood Section -- at one point, I almost took out Bob Cole while going to grab a club soda between periods. I think he may have come up to my chin.)

"Elisha Cuthbert is in the building!!!" "She has hair like Rue McClanahan!!!" "She's eating fries!!!" "Everyone says she's dating Mike Comrie!!!" "I heard they're doing it!!!"

Seriously? What the (expletive) is this -- Degrassi: The Next Generation?

Here's a picture of Elisha from the game that I found on some guy's blog:

Hey Comrie: "Thank you for being a friend..."

Apparently the readers found the Cuthbert media coverage to be quite hysterical and "stalker-ish", to use their term. Here's Mike C.'s take:

"It's a hot actress and all they notice is she's eating a greasy snack? I'm betting these are the only things sportswriters care about: Chicks in hockey arenas and food."

Normally Mike, I don't think it takes a woman of Cuthbert's attractiveness to get them worked up into such a state. I mean, if I threw a bouffant wig and a pillbox hat on Lou Lamoriello, making him look like a dreadful facsimile of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, I bet at least half the press box would attempt to flirt with that hot mess.

(Aside -- for future reference, please attempt not to go "Brad Lidge" in your e-mails. It's just too damned easy.)

You've got to wonder though -- if the Rangers are up next, are all the male sportswriters in the city going to be walking around with notebooks shielding the fly on their pants?

Maybe Ottawa will be spared. Maybe they'll play Buffalo in the Conference Finals. Hurrah! More cliches! Anton Volchenkov's nightmares about Mike Grier! Daniel Alfredsson's unfinished business with Jason Pominville! More free-associating fans from the opposition with massive chips on their shoulders! It's more excitement than you can stand, damnit!

More later.

P.S. One last pic for this photo-heavy post: I'm told this cake was allegedly sent last night from a hotel in Times Square to another in East Rutherford, NJ. You have to look closely (photo was taken with a cell phone), but the icing reads, "Ram (a.k.a. Roy Mlakar) loves Boo Boo (a.k.a. Bruce Garrioch)":

How was this "wildly inappropriate" photo leaked? I'm thinking a lot of time and resources should be spent to get to the bottom of this. I mean, a lot.

More later.

A slight delay

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Apologies, but we've got some things on the go right now. Thoughts on last night coming soon...hopefully.

Coming around to a new reality

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

First of all, I wasn't at the game tonight. 10 minutes before the puck dropped I was still biking in my basement while listening to SNFU's The Devil's Voice (totally weird coincidence). I might try for Wednesday's game -- depends if the Scott Norwood Section is already packed with riff-raff. They may not have room for me.

Anyway, I know I wrote this on Sunday and I meant what I said -- still do. I'm not going to bag on the team when they're still doing so many things right. But that still doesn't change how ten years of history can affect you, and how you assume things might play out, in spite of the team demonstrating that they can actually break old habits.

A perfect example of this was at the end of the second period. I sensed frustration on the part of the Sens at the inability to beat Martin Brodeur. Typically in the past, the anxiety would fester into a full-blown cluster(expletive), and the team would be out of the series in five games. But whatever I sensed was off the mark. The Sens' patience demonstrated thus far has been utterly remarkable, as well as (and this is huge) their willingness to keep their foot on the gas, regardless of the situation. Remember the Toby Jug's version of shutdown hockey whenever the team garnered a lead? Remember how many times it blew up in their faces? Those days are over.

I think part of the reason why I'm still expecting the worst is due to watching so many games at home and becoming overly affected by the commentary. Greg Millen's verbal humping of Martin Brodeur is beyond relentless. He kept insisting that Brodeur was unbeatable and after a while, you begin to believe it. I felt like Audrey Raines after going a few rounds with the Chinese on 24.

(Aside: How buggered up is she, by the way? When you click on that Wikipedia entry, be sure to note her "current status" -- top-right hand sidebar. As long as you saw last week's ep, I promise it won't be a spoiler. Just don't scroll down on that page.)

If I can, it'll be nice to see a game live and experience any momentum switches in a proper environment.

A couple of quick notes...

- Elliotte Friedman asked Ray Emery at the end of the game about the significance of going against Martin Brodeur "head-to-head". Ray dodged the question. Friedman tried to re-word. Ray deked once more. A few minutes later, Friedman interviewed Mike Fisher and tried to get the answer out of him. For God's sakes, let it go.

- I don't know who several media members think they're fooling, but a few have been pronouncing Brodeur's name "Bro-deeyeur" (say the second half to yourself as if it were one syllable, and hope that your co-workers aren't around). One talking head actually forced himself to use the wrong pronunciation last night -- he was about to state the backstopper's name correctly, and then stopped himself. The NHL Media Guide lists the phonetic spelling as "broh-DOOR". TUC has inquired about the new pronunciation to several Francophones as well, and they've been left just as baffled. Memo to the Name Changers: Knock it off. You sound like jackasses. If you actually want to pronounce a name right while sounding wrong, use Andrej Meszaros (MEHT-zahr-ohsh) as a template.

- Say what you want about Bob Cole (undoubtedly a lot of it will be negative), but he's become an ironic oasis amongst a plethora of screaming play-by-play announcers/colour commentators. Mike Emerick's incessant caterwauling over the most insignificant of sequences has left me with a desire to punch him in the uvula on more than occasion during this post-season.

More later.