City Paper is not for tourists
Hockey fans, meet the Ottawa Senators: A team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. A team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. A team with a lot of pride.
A team that just can’t admit that the lowly Washington Capitals fucking own them.
Last night, the Capitals beat the Senators by the score of 4-2; the come-from-behind victory marked the completion of the Caps’ four-game season sweep over the Sens. In early November, after Washington had whipped Ottawa 4-1, the Senators claimed that the loss was due to the fact that they had underestimated the foundering Caps squad and thus not played at the top of their game—but that they wouldn’t make the same mistake next time. The Senators got the chance to back up their brash talk in late December, when the Caps traveled to Ottawa for the first game in a home-and-home series. Alexander Ovechkin scored four goals and one assist for the Caps, who beat the Senators in their own rink once again, this time by the score of 8-6. Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber wasn’t the only Senator to take a beating: Caps enforcer Donald Brashear absolutely pummeled Sens tough guy Chris Neil in a lopsided bout during which Neil took what seemed like two dozen punches directly to the head.
Ottawa’s response? The Senators’ thug-on-skates Brian McGrattan accused Brashear of backing down from a fight challenge he issued earlier in the game, only to pick on the smaller Neil—who, until that point, nobody had ever accused of being anything other than a heavyweight fighter in his own right. McGrattan then actually went so far as to claim that Neil won the fight. (Maybe McGrattan’s taken too many hits to the head himself—but, just in case his memory is a little foggy, here’s the video of Neil getting hammered.) Canadian hockey analyst and national embarrassment Don Cherry—in a misguided attempt to salvage some sense of dignity for the city of Ottawa—then called Brashear a “phony” and insisted that he was afraid to fight McGrattan.
Three days later, the Senators came to Washington and responded to their previous lackluster efforts with a 3-6 loss to the Capitals. Following the game, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson gave the Capitals a backhanded compliment, noting that the cellar-dwelling Caps “have nothing to lose.” Nice comeback, Alfie.
Fast-forward to last night’s example of Washington’s continued dominance over what is supposedly a superior team. This time around, Alfredsson said “It doesn’t feel any better or any worse than any other loss…We played a good game. We gave up two easy goals and they got four or five power plays.” Hmmm. That’s a familiar take on things: In each case, it’s a matter of the Senators organization claiming that the Capitals didn’t so much win the game as the Senators did lose it.
Yeah, Alfie, I’m sure that’s what happened—-four times in a row. And I’m also sure that losing four times to the Caps—-who you obviously hold in low regard—-by the combined score of 22-12 doesn’t bother you in the least. Because the frustration and denial on the Sens’ part following each heartbreaking loss to the Caps isn’t completely obvious in the post-game wrap-ups, you know? Perhaps Senators forward Dean McAmmond more accurately described his team’s feelings toward the Capitals when he said, “Yeah. I don’t really like them.” I wonder why not, eh?
Either way, as one poster on the Washington Capitals message board stated, the Senators may not be able to give the Caps any credit—but they did give them eight points. Thanks, guys!