Tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators was one that most Sens fans had had circled on their calendars for a long time.
Specifically, since November 5th, 2017. The day this team shocked the hockey world by shipping out its best centreman and one of the most important members of its community in favour of Matt Duchene.
This game was never about the Sens. The result could not have been less important.
The score certainly didn’t matter at this point in the season, with the playoffs completely out of reach and the team only a few points out of last place in the league.
This game was about Kyle Turris. It was about welcoming him back to Ottawa. It was about letting him know just how much he meant to this city, to this fanbase. It was about saying goodbye, because we weren’t prepared for this trade, we weren’t warned, we didn’t have time to give him a proper send off. This was his send off.
As good as Matt Duchene has been lately, and as much sense as that trade meant, it would be incredibly difficult for anyone to do what Kyle Turris did for this organization, on and off the ice. We miss you, Kyle. And we’re sorry our owner sucks. We don’t like him either.
It was very strange seeing Turris in a Nashville jersey. It also made me very sad to think that we’ll never get to see him in the beautiful jersey the Sens wore tonight. Or the variation of it that they’ll most likely be wearing soon, since they haven’t exactly been subtle about the impending rebrand. Why did this beautiful man have to leave right before we got nice jerseys?
Perhaps the beautiful jersey is what’s inspiring this stretch of alarmingly good play. As a wise woman once said, it is ever so much easier to be good when your clothes are fashionable. Maybe it’s time to retire it for this season? Then bring it back next year? Winning is fun and all, but that’s really not what this team needs to be doing right now.
The game began in the most Sens way possible. Like clockwork, Boucher started some of his worst players, the puck dropped, and before everyone had fully registered that the game had started, the puck was in the back of the Ottawa net.
Welcome back, Kyle. This is what the team has turned into in your absence.
The Sens picked things up a bit after that, spending a bit of time in the offensive zone and a little bit more time than that in the defensive zone. The play wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was watchable, and these days that’s pretty high praise.
And then the Sens put a dagger through all of our hearts, with a Kyle Turris tribute video.
Now, I think it says something about a franchise that it has gotten scarily good at putting together emotional tribute videos for former players, and that these tribute videos are often the highlight of the games at which they are featured.
Oh sorry, you go to hockey games to cheer on your team? I go so that I can get emotional over tribute videos for my favourite players, who are now playing for the opposition.
Here’s the video, by the way, if you feel like crying today:
Thank you Kyle Turris for 7 great years of memories on and off the ice! pic.twitter.com/EU6Iq9Zjnh— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 9, 2018
Dion Phaneuf then got into a fight with Scott Hartnell, who once famously told him to “suck it” during an All-Star game.
Not long after the tribute video, as we were all still wiping tears from our eyes, Chris DiDomenico evened the score with his sixth of the season. The forward did good work getting himself open in front of the Nashville net, and buried a pass from Ryan Dzingel.
The game started to get a little bit chippy after that, with a few borderline hits being made on both sides. Nashville got a powerplay, but failed to convert.
With only a few minutes left in the period, Scott Hartnell walked right around Cody Ceci to set up Calle Jarnkrok and take back the lead for the Predators. The score was 2-1 after 20 minutes.
During the intermission, I watched some figure skating, and if you didn’t, I pity you.
I may have also kept it on in the background during the rest of the game. Multitasking is fun.
It’s almost unfortunate that the Sens chose this moment, when everyone had a perfect opportunity to turn off the hockey game and watch a bunch of highly athletic and beautiful men showcasing their skill on ice in a competitive sporting event, to play one of their best periods this season.
Early on in the period, Max McCormick scored his first goal since January 2016, to even the score. Then, in a refreshing change of pace, Ottawa controlled the play for more than a few minutes, outshooting their opponent by quite a wide margin.
Just past the halfway point of the game, new recruit Magnus Paajarvi scored his first goal as an Ottawa Senator, after Erik Karlsson sent him an absolutely beautiful cross-ice pass and he completed a wraparound that would have given Craig Anderson nightmares.
Isn’t it funny how the fourth line is suddenly good now that Burrows is out of the lineup?
Also, I’m sorry for dissing hockey earlier. Erik Karlsson is every bit as beautiful and graceful as Patrick Chan and watching him skate is just as entertaining as watching figure skating. The rest of the team, on the other hand...
The Sens continued their solid play throughout the rest of the period, and entered the final frame up 3-2 despite a last-minute push by the Predators.
The third period was a different story.
As we all know, it is a law of the universe that a good period of Sens hockey must be followed by a very bad period of Sens hockey.
It was Nashville’s turn to control play, and Ottawa’s turn to predictably sit back and attempt to defend the lead instead of building on it. The tank was back on.
The Predators came close to scoring a few times, but Anderson stood tall and kept the Sens ahead. Trust him to ruin the tank!
The Sens held on until about five minutes from the end of the game, when PK Subban (of course) buried his second of the game to even the score. In other news, I learned that hockey is a lot of fun when it’s played over classical music and right beside figure skating.
Overtime was incredibly exciting, and mostly dominated by Ottawa. I don’t know why Boucher chose this game to start his best players in overtime, but it’s more than a little bit frustrating. We don’t need to win this game. We needed to win games, like, two months ago. Come on, Guy.
Let’s not think about all the amazing overtime goals Kyle Turris has scored in this building. Nope. Not thinking about that. Not at all.
Regardless of what it meant for the Sens in the long run, I can’t deny that it was incredibly fun to watch Hoffman’s shot, and Karlsson’s skating, and even Chabot for that matter. It was also a lot of fun to see Hoffman score his 100th goal on a beautiful breakaway. I love that man. Please don’t trade him. My heart can only take so much.
Sometimes, you just have to enjoy the hockey game, regardless of what it means in the long run. Yes, tanking would be the best strategy. But this was fun. Let’s enjoy this.
Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, please do yourself a favour and look up the video of a Japanese figure skating pair skating to a piece from Yuri On Ice, which made me almost as emotional as the Turris tribute video.
- Matt Duchene was on fire tonight. It definitely lessened the sting of the trade.
- DiDomenico also looked pretty good, and it’s still laughable that the Sens thought Dumont was better than him.
- Dzingel had a good game, as always.
- Anderson was great too.
- The usual suspects were bad. I don’t need to name them all at this point.