At this point in the off-season, some people start counting the days until the regular season. I'm counting down the days until the rookie tournament. Sure, it isn't the most meaningful hockey, and I might not recognize all the numbers on the backs of the jerseys, but it's players in Senators uniforms playing what appears to be other NHL teams... and dammit I'm desperate!
Unfortunately, the rookie tournament is a month away. So to pass the days, I typically spend this time of the year re-watching the highlights from the previous season. Along the way, I was reminded of what a roller-coaster of a year this past one was. I decided to take some inspiration from Stanley Cup of Chowder and come up with my own Top 10 games of the Ottawa Senators 2010-11 season.
In picking my favourite games, I tried to think of which ones excited me the most this season. With the upheaval that took place at the trade deadline, it is probably no surprise that many of the exciting moments were when new, young players did something... or anything really.
I hope everyone can get some enjoyment watching some of these highlights, if you haven't rewatched them yourself already. Each game's highlights are linked in the headers to NHL.com.
10. Father Karma: December 16, 2010 visiting the Minnesota Wild
I suppose this was really Brian Lee's game. After being a healthy scratch for who knows how long, Clouston gave Lee a chance to play in his home state while his father watched from the stands. In fact, this was the first game of the season's "Father-Son Road Trip" that the Sens have made an annual tradition. The "Father Karma" must have really been on the job, because the Wild had a too-many-men penalty, but it wasn't called until after the puck was in the back of the net. I didn't know that they could turn back the clock on those types of calls. Maybe the back referee saw it and dropped his whistle? Anyway, on the ensuing power-play Foligno scored. I remember feeling like we cheated somehow. But hey, I'll take it!
With the father-son connection, this game gets my vote for "feel good game of the year."
9. Greening's First: March 3, 2011 visiting the Atlanta Thrashers
In this game, Colin Greening's got his first NHL goal. It wasn't the prettiest of goals, but that doesn't really matter, does it? At this later part of the season I just started feeling great everytime someone new and young was putting up points. As a side note: boy can Butler can rip the puck, what a release! You know who else enjoyed that goal? The 12 people in the stands.
8. King Lehner: January 13, 2011 visiting the New York Islanders
I chose this game primarily because it was Robin Lehner's first start and first win. He didn't have a particularly great game (see: Trevor Gillies scoring his first NHL goal), but I remember being very exciting when I heard he would be getting the start. This was a fairly high scoring affair (I believe we were up 6-2 at one point), so it at least provided that most basic of thrills. This was also the team's first win of the calender year, and it broke a lengthy losing streak. I believe it was the only win we had while Spezza was out.
7. Kovalev's 1000th: November 22, 2010 hosting the Los Angeles Kings
I was hesitant to add a game based on anything Kovalev-related to my Top 10 since I know how polemic his tenure with our team was/is.... but damn it, this was an exciting moment! Say what you want about the man (seriously, say what you want), but putting up your 1000th point at the 10:00 mark of the first period and breaking your stick on the play is just too awesome. Too bad he couldn't be that awesome for 2 years.
Some other things from this game:
- Neil and Ruutu's 600th game. Who knew? Ian Mendes did.
- Michalek's 400th game too I guess?
- After horrendously giving up the puck for a goal against, Spezza redeemed himself with an awesome little dangle:
6. The Butler Does It: February 12, 2011 visiting the Edmonton Oilers
This game was on Hockey Day in Canada, and it was the first game in the "post-Fisher" era. After getting a few call-ups earlier in the season playing largely 3rd/4th line minutes, Bobby Butler finally got a real shot after Murray started doing his thing. I had been waiting all season for this guy to get his first, so I was quite thrilled when he finally netted one early in the game. Of course, the best part was when he exploded in the last 26 games of the season with 21 points. Can he keep it going this season? This was also Brian Elliot's first win of 2011. So... yeah, there ya go. Figured I'd end this paragraph on a high note.
5. Condra's First: February 26, 2011 hosting the Philadelphia Flyers
I'm not sure I need to write anything here, I just need to show this picture:
Ok, I will write something. Foligno also had a nice goal to go with Condra's first two career NHL goals. Also Phillips scored... wait, lemmie double-check that... Yes, Phillips scored. Exciting stuff.
4. Shutting out the Leafs: November 27, 2010 hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs
This one made my list because I attended this game with my friend who is a Leafs fan. But really, does anyone in the Sens Army need an excuse to put a shutout victory over our provincial rivalry in their Top 10? Highlights were watching Fisher fight past Grabovski to earn that first goal, and of course Alfredsson knocking down Kessel.
3. Kelly Tricks Lundqvist: December 5, 2010 visiting the New York Rangers
The Fisher trade stung, but when it was over I thought I could handle anything. Then Kelly went, and it hurt just as much. However, I am absolutely thrilled that Chris Kelly got a cup with the Bruins because he's definitely one of my all-time favourite Sens.
If I recall correctly, at this point in the season our offensive struggles were well-documented. It had been almost a month since we had scored more than 2 goals in a game. Enter Chris Kelly and his first career hat trick to give us a 3-1 win over the Rangers. What I really like is that, even though his third goal was an empty-netter, you can watch him earn it right from back in his own end. I'm gonna miss him.
2. Enter Anderson: February 19, 2011 visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs
I remember when Anderson first arrived in Ottawa he got a huge cheer when introduced over the big screen while sitting on the bench (I think it was at the Bruins game the night before this Toronto game). I guess the Sens Army is anxious for a legit starting goaltender or something... I wonder why that is? We may have jumped the gun in lauding him before he had even played for us, but Anderson did not disappoint the following evening. He was thrown to the wolves in a game against our bitter provincial rivals on their own turf.
What followed was exciting goaltender battle ending with a shutout being handed to each goalie. Anderson was particularly excellent during overtime when the Sens found themselves killing a penalty. A few days later when Anderson stepped onto the ice at Scotiabank Place for the skills competition, the place went berzerk. What a way to endear himself to the entire city.
Side note: When Spezza got the lone shootout goal that won the game for the Sens, I was reminded of that scene in Independence Day when Will Smith opens the alien ship and punches the alien and says "Welcome to earth!" Yes, Reimer is the alien.
1. Alfie's 1000th: October 22, 2010 visiting the Buffalo Sabres
There wasn't really any doubt that this was one of my favourite games of the season. I was living blissfully unaware of how bad it could get, and Alfie put on his cap'n hat and finished the night with a hat trick to grab his 1000th career point. It seemed like the ship was starting to right itself. I only wish I had a reaction video of me jumping around my living room when Alfie tucked in the empty-netter. I think Alfie should thank Brian Elliot for letting in that ridiculously weak 2nd goal. If he hadn't have, maybe the Sabres would have never pulled Miller.
There ya have it, my Top 10 favourite games of the year. Did I miss something that you thought should have been in the Top 10? Share in the comments.
If you are still bored, here is something I noticed while watching some of the later games: Bobby Butler is awesome. Take a few minutes and watch all of Bobby Butler's goals from this past season.