Saturday, May 05, 2007
Sympathy for the Devil: Part V
Senators win series 4-1

This is an exorcism, this is a purging, this is irony at its best.

The first period is the last throe of a dying team; New Jersey finally physically asserts themselves, creating turnovers in the neutral zone and keeping us pinned to the boards for minutes, forechecking like mad.

Gomez scores off a rush, tucking the puck in behind a sprawled Emery. This is certainly the best period the Devils have played in the series (as well it should be) and they deserve more than a one-goal lead, but fortunate bounces keeping the puck away from breakaway chances and Emery keep the tension. Maybe the Devils relax a little. They know that they are undefeated when defending a 1-0 lead; they are outshooting the Senators by 8; they're at home; the arena isn't empty ...

Some aspects of the Devils' game don't really ever change -- they still get most of their chances off the face-off. The Senators can't get out of their own zone because they can't win a face-off so Emery is forced to make a save for the face-off so they can't get out of their own zone because they can't win a face-off.

Towards the end of the first, Neil leads the Senators in establishing a tougher forecheck. Despite moving the puck around in their zone, the Devils don't allow a probable scoring chance, keeping all 3 shots screened and to the perimeter. Still, Neil, Fisher, crash, bang their way into the Devils' zone. The physical play is partly due to the laxity of the referees -- there is only one call in the first period, which is remarkable. Heatley needlessly interferes and sits in the box as his team-mates calmly suffocate a Devils power-play.

The second period renews this effort. The Senators start to fore-check better, and on a furious rush by Vermette, he barely keeps the puck in, and I mean by a hair. The Devils give the puck away and a shot from the half-boards by Tom Preissing is deflected by Vermette into the net. Brodeur doesn't look graceful as the puck skitters between his legs and slowly, agonizingly, it must seem, into the net.

Perhaps nobody else sees this, but on a camera shot of the Sens' bench, Preissing, the Chuck Norris look-alike, sticks his tongue out playfully for the camera. He's adorable in the way only an Economics major can be.

After Vermette's goal, the Devils urgently try to regain their lead. Emery holds them in until Saprykin, a one-man wrecking machine, throws himself at the Devils to create a fore-check. He's insane, pressing every Devils player against the glass at least once, diving down to keep the puck in, diving down to clear the puck.

The Senators finally get their chance on the power-play, when Selke nominee Pandolfo goes off for goaltender interference. Spezza beats Brodeur with an improbable shot from the face-off circle. It sails cleanly over Brodeur's left shoulder, with Heatley's big ass screening Brodeur's face. There are so many bodies in front that it's impossible to tell if Spezza's shot was clean and just a beautiful release, or it deflected off someone's body part.

The Devils keep pressing, with their new plan of trying to take advantage of Emery's rebounds. It is true -- most of them are in the middle of the ice, but every time they come out, the Senators are the first ones there.

Mike Comrie, after a glorious chance, meets Brodeur's glove and heatedly exclaims, "Fuck!" as the camera zooms in on him. He looks so scruffy he could pass for an art student.

A few minutes later, any hope of a Devils' comeback is destroyed by an Alfredsson wrist-shot, from the left face-off circle, that skips between Brodeur's legs and into the net. It's demoralizing. It's not a Brodeur-calibre goal against. It's just the sort of thing we needed.

(Maybe Brodeur should've taken more time with his equipment. Bob Cole helpfully points out that his left strap is undone and sounds distressed that Marty has not realized it.)

After the goal, the camera examines the faces of the Devils. In Internetspeak, their expressions are roughly translated as:




Is this it? Is this the series?

(I'd like to ponder this, but the commercial for Canada Post with the coin people comes on and I am terrified. They dissolve and come together and dissolve ... what the hell is going on?)

As we head into the third period, Bob Cole seemingly doesn't bother to look at the scoreboard. "They scored two goals in the second," he says. He speaks of a tense "one-goal" lead. I don't think he realizes that 4 goals are scored until halfway through the period.

The New Jersey fans, give them credit, though because there's not a lot of them, there isn't much credit to be given, aren't turning it in. Chants of Let's go Devils still ring on television. Still the Devils hit, fore-check, and finally the E(lias) G(omez) G(ionta) line is allowed to face the Big Line (we'll think of a name later). Nothing going. The Senators have learned from the New Jersey Devils. We clog up the middle and trap and trap and trap. One fore-checker in, everyone back, and penetration is impossible unless we turn it over. Despite a Philly boarding call, our PK still doesn't allow them any room. Actually, there's not much difference between our PK play and ES play this period ... except Fisher gets a SH break-away chance on the PK, while we barely register a shot during ES.

This is when the fans start booing.

With about 2 minutes to go, the Devils pull their goalie. I know they will score. This is the way it has to be. With 39.8 seconds to go, they do it. But nothing more -- the clock runs down and the Senators burst out onto the ice, calmly, no bear-hugs or players sliding along the ice or pile-ups, but a civilized celebration. The players exchange hand-shakes, with almost every Senator player giving an extra tap to Brodeur.

At the end, the goalies exchange words.

Emery tells Brodeur it was an honour to play against him.

Brodeur tells Emery that the last goalie to beat him won the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup. Go win it all, he tells Ray.

In the 25th season of their existence, the 2007 Devils die after having gave birth to the 2007 Ottawa Senators nearly exactly 4 years ago. 3-2.

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Blogger Sherry said...

Artfully done as usual.

He's adorable in the way only an Economics major can be.

As someone who takes Economics, I'd like to know where the adorable economics majors are.

06 May, 2007 18:09  
Blogger aquietgirl said...

Look in a mirror. :)

06 May, 2007 22:26  
Blogger Sherry said...

Oh, you :P

Not an economics major though, just forced to take it.

07 May, 2007 11:28  
Blogger aquietgirl said...

Well ... you're still adorable.

07 May, 2007 23:25  
Anonymous KV said...

God. This particular post almsot made me cry. You're wonderful. =)

15 May, 2007 16:18  

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