Yay! Another Linda Cohn column! This time, though, it's actually something I agree with - she argues that the Ottawa Senators might be more prepared for the playoffs this year because they haven't coasted through the regular season blowing teams out and they're a little less reliant on pure talent for offense. However, since I'm an A-hole, and the article is nonsense, let's take another close look at what ESPN considers to be worthy NHL journalism:
Thanks to March Madness, it's been a couple of weeks since my last column. I'm not talking about the true March Madness that takes place each season in the NHL.
...I'm talking about that fake, college basketball March Madness! When I said the term "March Madness," you probably thought I was talking about regular season hockey games being played in March, but no, I meant the huge, important NCAA Basketball tournament that is constantly referred to as "March Madness."
No, the Worldwide Leader sent me to Pittsburgh to do play-by-play duties for the first two rounds of the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament. Still, the women's tournament got me thinking about the Ottawa Senators.
How badly was your mind wandering while watching these Women's basketball games? I guess I can't blame you, I can't really watch them either.
Year after year, the Senators were a team rich with talent. Scoring came easy, and so did wins. Regular-season wins, that is. When the playoffs rolled around, the Senators transformed into a box of tissues -- soft.
First off, I don't think the Senators magically became soft when the playoffs began, but rather were soft all season but were never really pushed or exposed til the playoffs. Secondly, if your hockey team transforms into a box of tissues, softness is only one of many issues that will prevent you from winning games.
Over the past five regular seasons, the Senators' average point total was an eye-opening 106.2. Their average number appearances in the Stanley Cup finals -- zero.
The Devils have appeared in the Cup Finals twice in the last five seasons, and no other team has appeared more than once. Obviously, Ottawa choked a little harder than most teams, but still, if they had made a finals appearance, would the sentence read, "...the Senators' average point total was an eye-opening 106.2. Their average number appearances in the Stanley Cup finals -- 0.2"? Unless you're trying to be dramatic by saying "ZERO," I'm not sure when else "average Cup Finals appearances" would ever be brought up as an actual thing.
Martin Havlat played 18 regular season games last year and zero playoff games. The Senators weren't exactly playing "Havlatball."
While Ottawa had teams with tremendous skill, those teams were short in the heart, desire and efficiency departments. But, you can now flush those boxes of tissues down the drain. The 2006-07 Sens are more sandpaper than cotton ball!
Watch out, NHL - you can't apply makeup with this year's Ottawa Senators, but you can remove paint with them! They are an object that is slightly rougher than the object they were last year! Also, how can you get rid of boxes of tissues by "flushing them down the drain?" That's not just a crappy metaphor, it's bad common sense.
Also, while I agree that the Senators appear a little more system-oriented and less reliant on talent this year (although they are giving up .15 more goals per game), it's not like last year's team got flushed down a drain and replaced by totally new guys.
2005-06 Senators Ice Time leaders: Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Chris Phillips, Jason Spezza, Andrej Meszaros
2006-07 Senators Ice Time leaders: Wade Redden, Chris Phillips, Andrej Meszaros, Daniel Alfredsson, Anton Volchenkov, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza
Pretty much the same group minus the 6'9", extremely physical Chara. These are still the same tissues as last year, just slightly less soft tissues. They might irritate your nose.
With or without home ice, don't sleep on the Sens. They're no longer pillow-soft.
They're not tissues, cotton balls, pillows, blankets, marshmallows, stuffed animals, fur coats, kittens, cotton candy, soft serve ice cream, sofas, coonskin caps, or one of those big stuntman airbags for jumping off buildings and landing. No. This year, the Ottawa Senators are HUMAN ADULTS.