Remember when the Battle of Ontario had some real heat? DGB probably summed up the change perfectly
The old Battle of Ontario: A couple of guys stirring the pot, a bunch of guys answering the bell.
The new Battle of Ontario: A half-dozen pot-stirrers, zero bell-answerers.
This may be the game that breaks my spirit.
MF37 and have previously discussed the status of the Leafs' rivals. I know all of the historical arguments for the Habs but fans around my age have only recently really known a Habs team worth worrying about. Sure, they won the Cup in 1993 but they haven't done anything since. Meanwhile, in ottawa, they were fielding a squad that seemingly each spring was threatening to derail the Leafs' pursuit for the Cup. Since the lockout the lack of playoff meetings has toned down the rivalry but what has really killed it is what you see in that comment: no guts.
The senators are a team of gutless wonders. From Jason Spezza's spear - an extension of his usual practice of slashing and hacking in scrums before allowing himself to be saved by the referees - to Dany Heatley's teflon nature to the litany of ballless moves perpetrated by their captain the senators have a long, embarrassing nature of gutless moves. The biggest indictment of the senators came last year after Mark Bell decimated Alfredsson in the last game between the two teams last year. Not a single senator did anything for the rest of the game other than, as DGB put it, look at their skate laces.
Now, Chris Neil has taken up the mantle of the king of the gutless wonders. Well, judging by his part in the above brawl it's not exactly a new development.
That is ostensibly the senators' enforcer. Mental midgetry aside, Neil is not exactly a shrinking violet. Here are the players that the Leafs dressed to fulfill the buds sandpaper quotient:
There's not exactly a Derek Boogaard or Georges Laraque in that trio. In fact, you have a guy that's probably past his best as a fighter, a guy that is most well known among Leafs fans for not knowing how to lay a proper bodycheck, and a guy whose most famous fight resulted in him getting knocked out by some chump that's not even in the league anymore. But who does Christina Neil fight?
For those of you that struggle with math (ie any senators fans lurking) that makes Christina a whopping three inches taller and 29 pounds heavier than his dancemate. Kudos to White for standing up to Neil on a shift when he was running around throwing knees and trying to injure a Leaf. You know what probably had him the most upset? After dominating the Leafs for most of the three seasons after the lockout the Leafs have quietly turned the tables. They are 6-1-1 in their last eight against the senators.
As much as the media might want to portray that game last night as having had any real spice it was devoid of real emotion mostly because Frogren didn't kill Ruutu when he had the chance and because the senators seem to avoid conflict as a default. I can't imagine what their team meetings are like:
Bryan Murray: "Anyone have anything to thay?"
* everyone looks at their shoes *
BM: "Come on guyth! This is embarrathing! We are worthe than the Leafthes over the patht year!
Alfredsson: "I like meatballs!"
Eugene Melnyk: "Sweet Jesus, I'd rather go to jail than deal with this shit"
Toskala put in a great performance last night aided by some great last-ditch defending. Kubina had a rough game - he was torn apart by the two guys sitting behind me - before setting up Ponikarovsky for a beautiful go-ahead goal. Then Jason Blake was rewarded for his continued good play (weird) with a wrap around goal when Gerber apparently decided to take a nap.
It'll be interesting to see where the senators go from now?