Few predicted it at the beginning of the season, but as the 2011-2012 regular season comes to a close today, Ottawa has the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
And the LORD did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, etc. etc. However, it’s a sad truth that the Playoffs end badly for all but one of the 15 teams blessed enough to reach them. When you combine this with the fact that the playoffs tend to turn me into a profane and bitter husk of a man, I think it’s a good idea to review this excellent and surprising regular season now, rather than after my memories have been tainted by what may likely be a sad end to the season.
So without further ado, here some highlights from October 2011.
October 8, 2011: Maple Leafs 6 – Senators 5
Even though Ottawa was down 4-0, they roared back to score 5 goals in the 3rd, and put an extreme scare in to the Toronto faithful. Featuring 2 goals from one Daniel G.* Alfredsson, and a rare Stephane Da Costa sighting, this comeback was the first sign of the never-say-die attitude that would be the Senators’ hallmark for much of the season. More importantly, this game spawned the tradition of Mark predicting a 5 goal 3rd period during every game, a prediction that has not once come true since this game.
October 11, 2011: Senators 4 – Wild 3
Ottawa’s 2011-2012 home opener featured many of the Silver Seven faithful in attendance, and they were not disappointed. After an appropriately pomp filled ceremony involving many of the original members of the Ottawa Senators 1992-1993 team, and an unfortunate incident during which Sergei Gonchar was briefly mistaken for Roberto Luongo by some of the fans, Ottawa quickly found themselves down by two goals. However, Ottawa clawed back from 2-0 and 3-1 down via goals by Nick Foligno, Chris Neil, and Colin Greening. After overtime solved nothing, Daniel Alfredsson decided that the game should be over, and clinched the game for the Senators in a shootout to a chorus of “Alfies”. This continued the tradition of Daniel Alfredsson being The Fucking Man, and foreshadowed future epic moments during the regular season in which the chanting of “Alfie” would figure prominently.
Other highlights included Dany Heatley being harassed by Chris Neil and the fans.
October 22, 2011: Senators 4 – Blue Jackets 3
After playing what might be considered a mediocre 59 minutes, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek send the Scotiabank Place crowd into a frenzy by scoring two goals in the last 40 seconds of the game to steal the victory right from under the Blue Jackets’ nose. At the time, I said I felt sorry for the Columbus fans, but not so sorry that I wished Ottawa didn’t win. This victory felt like some sort of crime, but it was an awesome crime, and that made all the difference. Since this game, Ottawa’s made the playoffs while Columbus has failed for Nail so effectively, they’ve essentially had last place locked up since January. How might these team’s fortunes have changed had Columbus been able to hold on for another 40 seconds? I don’t know the answer to that question, but in retrospect, this game feels like a seminal moment for both teams involved.
October 25, 2011; Senators 3- Hurricanes 2, SO
October 27, 2011: Senators 4 – Panthers 3
After Colin “Soylent” Greening put Ottawa up by 1 with 2:07 left in this entertaining contest, it looked like Ottawa was going to keep the lead for good. However, a goal from Kris Versteeg with the Florida net empty leveled the score, deflated the Ottawa fans, and just plain depressed me in general. Then, just when it seemed October could not get any more ridiculous, Nick Foligno provided an emergency Zoloft in the form of a game-winning goal with a mere 2.5 seconds left in the game. He then attempted to eat his own face in celebration. Game highlights also include Stephane Da Costa scoring a goal assisted by Erik Condra, a moment that I would have never believed happened if I hadn’t seen the highlights with my own eyes.
October 29, 2011: Senators 5 – Rangers 4, SO
Just to prove that they could make comebacks vs the elite teams in the NHL as well as the shitty ones, Ottawa spotted the Rangers a 4-1 lead with 11:55 remaining in the 3rd period, before scoring 3 goals in the remaining time and taking the victory in the shootout. This game featured another strong performance from Milan Michalek as he scored 2 goals in the 3rd in addition to the shootout winner. Remember in the beginning of the season when The Paulrus put a heavy emphasis on skating and physical fitness? I feel like a good number of these comeback victories can be attributed to this policy, as Ottawa was consistently able to outplay their opponents early in the year. Clever man, that Paulrus. Every point counts and if you can get some easy ones in the beginning of the season, they’ll come in handy later on.
Join me later in the week as I recap how the awesome honeymoon of October transitioned into the awkward marital counselling of November, and how Daniel Alfredsson continued to be amazing in every way imaginable.
*Ed note: The G stands for God-like. You heard me.