If you’re anything like me, on Thursday you were probably all pumped up for the Playoffs thanks to Mark’s excellent pump-up tunes, and confident in the knowledge that the Rangers were 1-seed that was ripe for the picking. If you’re even more like me, you’re probably now desperate to rid yourself of the disappointment of having watched a playoff hockey game which the Sens played, at times, with all the intensity of a canasta game at the retirement home. Well, come with me, gentle reader, and we shall reminisce about the better days that were so recent, yet now seem so far away. (See, I told you we needed to do this before the playoffs started...)
January 2, 2012: Ottawa 3 – New Jersey 2, OT
Remember that time Ottawa was down in the 3rd period, before storming back and eventually winning the game off the stick of Daniel "The Manual Gearbox"* Alfredsson? What’s that? I’ll have to be more specific? Oh, well then maybe this will jog your memory.
After going down 2-0 in the 1st period, and failing to capitalize on 3 powerplay opportunities in the 2nd, Ottawa proceeded to hang around before catching fire in the 3rd. Early in the 3rd, Erik Karlsson sprung Jason Spezza in alone on Martin "Not Mike" Brodeur with one of those transcendent "How did he see that, let alone make it?" passes. Roughly 2.5 seconds later, Spezza scored thus cutting the lead to 1. Then, with less than 8 minutes to go in the 3rd, Erik Condra tied the game while Ottawa was shorthanded with a shot that Brodeur could have saved if he hadn’t been so busy saying to himself, "There’s no way Condra can possibly score from there...". The game went into overtime, and it was none other than Daniel Alfredsson who scored the game winner on the powerplay shot from the hashmarks after taking a feed from Erik Karlsson, just in case there was anyone who missed it when he did it against the Flames a few days prior. Oh that Alfie, he’s so thoughtful.
* Ed note: "The Manual Gearbox" because he’s so damn clutch.
January 8, 2012: Ottawa 6 – Philadelphia 4
Having tired of being the overtime hero, Daniel Alfredsson decided to get his goal out of the way early by scoring a mere 54 seconds into the game off a Kyle Turris feed. Although after Alfredsson’s goal statisticians were predicting that Ottawa would win the game by the score of 60-0, by the time the 3rd period came around, Ottawa had given up 4 of the next 5 goals and found themselves in a 4-2 hole. If you can’t guess what happened next, well then you have terrible pattern recognition skills. Colin Greening kicked off the comeback with a goal that was so garbage, Greenpeace stormed the rink in protest. A few minutes later, Erik Karlsson found himself on a 3-1 with Jason Spezza. He then proceeded to use Spezza as a decoy before firing the puck past Bryzgalov to tie the game. Just as the game appeared to be headed to overtime, Filip Kuba (seriously!) sent a long shot from the point past Bryzgalov and into the net, sealing the win for Ottawa. After the game, Bryzgalov was quoted as saying, "Given the vastness of the universe, it’s almost impossible, statistically speaking, that the puck would end up in the net of all places." Upon hearing this, Ottawa fans were then quoted as saying, "Actually, it’s almost impossible, statistically speaking, that the puck would end up in the net because Filip Kuba shot it."
January 8, 2012: Ottawa 5 – Pittsburgh 1
January 17, 2012: Ottawa 3 – Toronto 2
There was so much to like about this game. Craig Anderson played out of his gourd, Kyle Turris had the game winner with a wrister so fast and accurate it might as well have been laser guided, and Ottawa assassinated Toronto at the ACC.
Full Disclosure: I was initially skeptical that All-Star Weekend was going to be all that great. Ottawa’s fans have the reputation of being a tad...cerebral at times, and I wasn’t really looking forward to having to deal with Dany Heatley or Phil "The Dill" Kessel at Scotiabank Place so that their excellent play could be honoured. I needn’t have worried. From the epic online ballot stuffing, to the constant chirping during the draft to The Euge opening up the coffers for the new scoreboard, to Scott Hartnell instructing Dion Phaneuf in the proper technique for removing snake venom, there was plenty to like on and off the ice over the course of the weekend.
However, all of these things paled in comparison to the fact that the fans turned All-Star Weekend into a celebration of Daniel Alfredsson. Standing ovations greeted him, TSN did features on him, and by the time the weekend was over, everyone who had been watching knew how much Daniel Alfredsson means to the Senators fan base and to the City of Ottawa. It was a truly great weekend for Ottawa and their All-Stars.
I don’t like to think that this will be Alfie’s last year, but if it is, I’ll be glad Alfie went out after a year like this one. A year filled with special moments like his 400th goal and the All-Star Game Weekend. A year that he didn’t have to give us anything, but he gave his all anyway, and we gave it back to him.