GAME 5: OTTAWA 2 at ANAHEIM 6
Anaheim wins series 4-1
Anaheim wins the Stanley Cup
I head into this game knowing this is a mere formality.
We can pray for a different team to come out, that the real Senators will shine, but they have -- the desperation of Philchenkov, Fisher, it's all been out there, all this time, I just don't think we have the technical competence to overcome. At some point, it's not about how much you want it. It's about the other team just being better.
(I'm sorry. If this weren't the final game of the season and if I weren't in such a daze and my brain and emotional thresholds weren't fried -- then maybe I could find it in my heart to give a recap but I doubt any of you are reading to find out how they scored only that they did score and they scored 6 and we scored 2 and they got Stanley and we didn't.)
We are down 2-0 in the first period, I started crying into my Sens Army scarf and this is it. There is no come-back, no miracle, and no little brief flashes of hope -- even when Alfie rifles the puck past Giguere to make it a "real" game. Every inch we grab, they grab a foot back. So, this can only mean that Phillips makes a rare unforced error and bounces the puck in off Emery's skates to score on his own net. Steve Smith, anyone? Then this can only mean that Alfie will give us another bit of hope by scoring shorthanded, in a play born out of will, but the penalty killers only to surrender a flukey goal that Ray seems ill-positioned for. They never surrender their 2-goal lead for more than a few minutes and they take it into the third period, and the players know it, no matter what brave words are being said, it is over. We don't have many chances generated now anyhow and it would take someone of immense, immense naivete and courage to believe that we can come out in the third period with God on our side and score 3 goals and not get scored on.
I am not that person. I wish I could be that person. But that person would probably punch something once they found out they were wrong, or start questioning God.
Like why, God, you would have us in the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose. Why you would allow us to win our series' in 5 games only to lose the only one that counts in 5. You have a great sense of humour, God, but sometimes you are just cruel. Cruel! Maybe you have something you would like us to learn from this, but I am too distraught right now to think.
(Just why, God, if you are merciful and just, would you allow Corey Perry to win the Stanley Cup?)
"They're climbing uphill here," Bob Cole tells me.
This isn't a hill. This is asking the Senators to climb Mt. Everest, then Mt. Olympus. The gods have already forsaken us.
On the bright side, this has become another arena where you will know for sure when Alfie has the puck. I don't think any Sens fan at this point gives a crap at what other people say about Alfie -- weasel or spineless or classless -- he is our beating heart. We are willing to forgive his rare trespasses because of this.
Muckler stares furiously at the crowd, gnashing at his nails, trying to figure out where he went wrong. When Perry takes an Alfie-giveaway to make it a real blow-out, Emery's brows are straight. He doesn't look flustered. I wonder how Gerber would look in there right now, but this is thought for the off-season.
So Anaheim has the Stanley Cup. And any major city with a major sports championship will feel the giddy thrill of this, the utter ecstasy of this, but will they remember this in a month? Will they remember this in another season? Will they remember this when they are older and telling their children stories of heroes and hockey players?
This is the end, as it's always been, except this time … this time, it's Stanley.
Every hug evokes an onslaught of tears. Orange is deathly and dull. The Senators somberly hug each other, Emery is re-assured. Alfie taps everyone, muttering something in the ears of everyone. Chris Neil grimaces, looking like he has been shot and twists his face against his stick. Handshakes are exchanged, and the boys can't cry -- they probably want to -- but this is all just a daze, a dream corrupted, gone terribly wrong. Do they want to watch this? Do I want to watch this?
They say I should be happy for Teemu Selanne. I am not capable of such complicated emotions. I feel only sorry, for Mike Fisher, for Phillips and Volchenkov, for Daniel Alfredsson and myself.
Thank you all, for reading. Thank you for being here during the lows of the season where the future of this team was in serious question and thank you for being here as we sailed through the highs and then crashed and burned, just now. Thanks for reading.
Thank you, Ottawa Senators. I won't turn this into an Alanis Morissette song, but ... thank you for doing more than I thought we could do, more than I realistically expected. Thank you for making me happy and putting a smile on my face when I was stressed with real life. You stole about two months of good sleep from me, but it was all worth it, driving to Ottawa, feeling spiritually connected, being proud to be one of the only two left and just that feeling, that feeling like, for an instant, you exist as something bigger than yourself, and now, now I think I understand why, why people become sports fans and why people stay this way.