Location: Ottawa, On. Canada.
Time: 19:30 EST on a cold wintery Wednesday night.
Scene: The Ottawa Senators face their key rival, the Buffalo Sabres. The crowd is nervous, knowing the home team is in deep, playing without their top centre, Jason Spezza, and sit precariously close to missing the post season. But, they’re hopeful, knowing, if the team digs deep, they can get the win. They look at their game sheets and notice a new name on wing…Mike Comrie.
You see, that was the scene set for OTT vs. BUF on January 3, 2007.
The Sens were recovering from a tough start and inching their way back into the play-off picture. Then tragedy struck. No Vermette, No Spezza, No Fisher.
I remember this game. I remember saying before going into it “this might get ugly”. The Sabres were on fire, the Sens were still finding their legs, and without their 3 top centres, the picture didn’t look good.
But, they won, big time. 6-3, and they never looked back, all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Could they do it again? The similarities are staggering. No Spezza, no Leclaire, no Foligno, no Neil, and a new face on forward, Campoli. The Sabres come into the game on fire.
But, again, they won. No, they didn’t just win, they owned the Sabres. That may have been the best clutch game I’ve ever seen. From top to bottom, that was a near perfect game, and if not for the stunning play of Miller, it would have been an absolute blow-out.
Elliott was solid, and made some outstanding saves.
The defense was sharp, aggressive, and dominated their checks in the defensive zone, while also providing outstanding support on the offensive blue-line.
The forwards, top to bottom absolutely dogged the puck, won almost every battle, everywhere, and repeatedly challenged Miller to make big stops.
Ruutu took some penalties, but in all honesty, I only saw one true penalty, the high stick in the final 2 minutes. The rest were “reputation” calls.
In a word, the officiating was awful. The most ironic being the hooking call on Kelly, after his having been robbed of a scoring opportunity, due to a hook, but without the benefit of a call.
But I digress.
That was outstanding.
The Sens tonight reminded me of an old tractor. It may not look like much, but it’s reliable, durable, and works, works, works.
Now THAT was a team victory!