Opposition Coverage: Silver Seven Sens
Saturday, Apr 11, 2009, 7:05 PM EDT
Air Canada Centre
Nothing the Leafs can do tonight will match this embarrassment
This year's final installment of the Battle of Ontario (formerly the Rape and Pillage of Upper Canada - Chris Selley) goes tonight and it's hard to avoid DGB's conclusion:
While any fan can see that the Battle of Ontario is dying, the truth is that it was never much to get excited over in the first place. The Sens always win in the regular season, the Leafs always win in the playoffs, and every incident that showed the slightest hint of bad blood was immediately ruined by horrified cries for everyone involved to be suspended.
Over the past year the senators cannot even point to regular season dominance as the Leafs are 7-2-1 in their last 10 meetings. We all know that there have not been any playoff meetings (whoops) since 2004 so what is there left to be upset about? I guess they could be angry that foreigners will frequently assume that Toronto is the capital of Canada but that just makes sense because Ottawa's a boring town. Ask anyone that's ever lived there. We all know they get way more antsy about things. Senators Lost Cojones' reaction to Tyler Bozak making the right decision, while a great example of why he's a fun read, is telling:
You could have come to a team chocked to the tits with young studs like Furbligno, Runaway Shanon, The Winch, Pascal Leclaire, Illya Zubov, and C-Bass. Instead, you picked Luke Schenn and...er...help me out here...
You could have come to a team with a brand new coach with everything to prove, and whose main philosophy is "Hey look! A puck! Let's go get it!". Instead, you picked a narcissistic cyborg who won't hesitate to toss you into a wood chipper if he thinks it will further his career.
Where to start? Schenn, Kulemin, and Grabovski are already better players than any of those noted and he's in for a hell of a surprise if he thinks Leclaire is going to be as good behind their shoot first, shoot second, shoot some more team. The coaching decision one is an easy one to look at too. Clouston will last just until he asks the senators' big three to play some defence. Once that trio are fed up it's won't be a shock what'll happen. Toss in the fact that Bozak was signing for a GM that had used four different coaches (including himself) in a hilarious two year slide from beaten finalists to just being beaten regularly and choosing stability seems the right option.
"BUT WE'VE BEEN SO GOOD SINCE HE WAS HIRED!"
Sit down sens fans. Let me explain to you how teams play once they're in a lottery position after New Years. They no longer have ridiculous expectations to match so they play lose and they play themselves out of a good draft position. Congratulations, you're every Leafs team you've laughed at since the lockout.
The points in the season series are
actually equal at 6-6 DGB points out that I can't do math when I am tired. The Leafs are up 7-5. A win tonight won't move the Leafs or the senators up the standings but a loss by the Leafs could be the first step towards what could be one of the greatest days in history:
LA plays San Jose at 1pm so we'll know their result before the Leafs' take the ice. The Coyotes play the Ducks at 8pm so there could be some anxious waiting after the final whistle at the ACC.
This could be the last game at the ACC for the Leafs' UFAs (as per NHL Numbers):
I don't think that I am going too far out on a limb to say that there are only 4-6 players I can see being re-signed from that list and only 3 that I'd really want back: Gerber, May, and Devereaux. Even then, it would have to be at similar deals and in very clearly defined roles.
So this game is at least one more step towards the Leafs' return to being a contender. At the very least some more deadwood will soon be on its way out of the door. In a best case scenario the Leafs are one ping pong ball away from a franchise player.