Jean-Pierre Allard has a thing or two to say about the Senators, down 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their first-round series. Hey, there's some speculation that Daniel Alfredsson, torn MCL and all, might play tonight, and maybe Jason Spezza will deign to dress.
It turns out that Jason Spezza, the subject of yesterday's "feet firmly planted in cheeks Babblecock's babble," did not skate at yesterday’s practice, continuing his recent streak.
Spezza was, surprise, surprise, not available to the darling media yesterday, skedaddling out of the Sitting Boring Patrons (SBP) arena as fast as Alex Ovechkin high hip in the plexiglass.
Exhibit A in the ultimate irony, folks.
No word either if the Citizen's Ottawa fan-boy writers (to borrow what the New York Post incorrectly applied to a writer at another daily) were subsequently able to function throughout the rest of the Lord's day, having to do without their bread and butter, a prized Spezza quote.
Exhibit B in the ultimate irony of it all.
Wouldn't it be the story of the year in Canada, if the brave depleted Sens Army actually came up with an inspired effort tonight and managed to squeeze out an unexpected win and force Roy A. Mlakar to go and find his long lost smile while drawing out emergency funds out of the broadcast crew's salaries for the travel expenses to Pittsburgh for Game 5?
Well, it wouldn't be to this humble dissenter.
Those with even a glimpse of memory or basic ability to read between the lines will agree that other than clamouring for a tough SOB coach in the mold of Mike Keenan or Paddy Burns, my main gripes with the Sens of recent vintage have been the lack of a genuine No. 1 goalie, first-line power forward and a big, mean stay-at-home defenceman. I think I've also called for Brian McGrattan to be inserted into the lineup so he can score a "dirty Avery Goal."
More recently, I've come to conclude that Jason Spezza will never be that top forward and moving him should have been explored in February of this year, heck, even after last year's mismatch against Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks. Taking a page from baseball's Mahatma, Branch Rickey, who said it's always better to get rid of your stars a year too soon than a year too late.
Hence, the case against Spezza which I offer as Exhibit C.
Should he not be in the lineup tonight, I sense that his loss will be minimal and in fact may even turn out to be a blessing for all, except the abovementioned media cheerleaders, in that it may spur an unexpected increase in production from the plebes. This would make GM Bryan Murray look like a genius for getting those stiffs in the first place when he started the current trend and moved fast Peter Schaefer for slow Shean 'Sunshine Superman' Donovan last summer.
However, should his teammates take this latest injury as the perfect excuse to not show their fans what’s left of the chemistry in the dressing room, and No. 19 ends up missing the last two games of the season, I don’t even want to imagine what his trade value would be should the incumbent GM decide to test the market this summer when Sean Avery becomes a free agent.
Speaking of Avery, whose every move from now on will be closely scrutinized and YouTubed after his stretching of the rules, I hope all members of the Sens Army, and the Mighty SOPO too, were watching NHL highlights last night and not the four-hour Boston Marathon between the Red Sonx and Yankees. For that might have given them a clue as to why their team, once the league’s highest scoring machine before they traded Joe Corvo, has inexplicably forgotten how to score. Er, goals, that is.
I thus offer you Exhibit D.
I'm not advocating that the Sens stoop to similarly embarrassing tactics and do to Marc-Andre Fleury tonight what Sean Avery did to Martin Brodeur during a Rangers PP yesterday. Nevertheless, it's time for anyone on Ottawa who is unafraid of getting whacked to stand in front of the Penguins goalie and at the very least create some interference, traffic, screening, thrash talk, anything, even perhaps a tip-in.
Like, everybody else is seemingly doing it. Then again, they’re undoubtedly afraid that the Penguins will administer them, as advocated by the Pittsburgh media, the most vicious of two-handed slashes even been given since Bobby Clarke overseas and Billy Smith domestically.
Does the Sens Army have such a player left that can stand to the front and in the line of fire? Or has this advertising campaign that cheaply piggybacks on Canada's real troops been a total tease?
Don't know. But I sure as heck know one thing for certain. If I'm the coach of this rudderless crew, I'd rather take my chances with Brian McGrattan than Alex Nikulin.
I rest my case, members of the jury.
April 14, 2008
(Editor's note: Did everyone see that the Montreal Gazette's venerable hockey writer Red Fisher said for the Sens should have been fined heavily for Murray's "tanking" comment? Of course, Red Fisher followed hockey before 1996, so what could he know?)