The Canadian match-ups will start to come fast and furious soon, but until that time we must enjoy the last for a while. The last one for a while, though will be tonight's meeting with our friendliest rivals, the Senators. I asked Sens Chirp, fellow Score Sports Federation member, a few questions in the usual format, and he asked me some too, to be posted at his site before the game (as usual): Sens Chirp.
Sens Chirp's answers to my questions follow below.
Q1) We look at your team a foreign fans and think Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson... Can you tel us from a Senators perspective who the players to look for tonight will be?
Sens Chirp: I always expect great things from Antoine Vermette when these two teams meet. Like all Francophone NHLers, deep down inside him burns a desire to play for Les Habs. I'm sure a similar desire exists in a certain Tampa Bay Lightning forward.
Q2) By the same token, who are the players you as Senators key on when you think of a match up with the 2008-09 Canadiens?
Sens Chirp: Every time we play the Habs it seems like that Kostitsyn guy is two places at once. Other than that its the usual suspects; Kovalev, Koivu, Higgins. Although with Kovalev I only worry about him every third or fourth match up; something I am sure Habs fans are use to.
Q3) This rivalry has been an interesting one, if not fully engulfed in flames of passion. The Senators won their first ever game against the Habs and since then have outplayed the Canadiens on many occasions (from early times to your total dominance of us for a while). How do the people of Ottawa feel about this rivalry and why do you think our two cities can't hate each other as much as say Toronto or Calgary?
Sens Chirp: Like every good rivalry, these teams will need to meet in the playoffs to really get things going. Habs fans still pack our barn every time these two teams play and to be honest with you that freakin Ole chant boils my blood. I think as it stands now Ottawa fans love to beat Montreal but Montreal fans don't quite take Ottawa seriously yet. Its a developing rivalry.
Q4) After all those playoff dead ends, someone decided to blow up the identity of the Ottawa team. Out with Euros in with grit. It got you a final, but has it set you back? Do you look at Euro-centered teams now and say - we built a better one than you once?
Sens Chirp: Its hard to say. See after getting kinda pushed around by the Ducks in the final we vowed never again. Then the following year while we were trying to get bigger and stronger the Euro-centric Detroit Red Wings won it all. Its kinda like that old Nintendo game, Ice Hockey. We lost to the Ducks and decided to stock up on all fat guys, meanwhile the Wings won it all with a team mostly made up of those fast skinny guys. Really we should have tried to stay somewhere in between with those middle sized guys. I really hope your readers remember this game otherwise this Q&A may have just gone off the tracks.
Q5) The fall happened so quickly, it took everyone by surprise. Which piece from the best years do you think would have kept this franchise holding firm? Zdeno Chara? Jacques Martin? Todd White?
Sens Chirp: Zdeno Chara, plain and simple. The guy was a one of a kind talent and we let him get away for nothing. Instead we kept Redden and eventually he got away for nothing too. Add to that the departures of Corvo and Preissing (also for nothing) and you see why we are where we are right now. Its the bad decisions on defence that have this team struggling right now.
Q6) Ray Emery was a massive pain in the butt, but how much would Sens fans enjoy having a hood young goalie again vs. the reclamation projects that hark back to earliest (Beaupre) years?
Sens Chirp: I really hope that was a typo because if it was its one of the funniest of all time. Umm in Brian Elliott we like to think we have something special and so far we have not been disappointed. Tonight should be a good test for him.
[I'll let you all judge if it was a typo...]
Q7) You haven't had a big draft pick in a while (Spezza, I guess). Hedman, Tavares or playoffs?
Sens Chirp: This is a tough question for me because unlike a lot of Senator fans I have yet to come to terms with the idea of missing the playoffs. I guess if I had to choose between the two of them I would say Hedman. The idea of a Hedman/Karlsson defence pairing is just too good to pass up although Tavares wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. All that being said...playoffs.
Finally, as with the last two Canadian match-ups, we had a look at some of the common threads and divergences between our two franchises. I asked Sens Chirp and Tobalev what came to mind (in a word or two) when they read the following:
a) Radek Bonk
Sens Chirp (Sens): Quite possibly the best Las Vegas Thunder to ever make the show
Tobalev (Habs): Solid defensive player
b) Benoit Brunet
Sens Chirp (Sens): Horrible Helmet
Tobalev (Habs): Crummy player, crummy commentator
Sens Chirp (Sens): Opening Night. After that the rest was a blur. (10-70-4)
Tobalev (Habs): Habs Cup
d) Oldest team name in the NHL
Sens Chirp (Sens): Ottawa Senators
Tobalev (Habs): Ottawa Senators [Well done Tobes, not too biased here to appreciate history...]
e) No-trade clause
Sens Chirp (Sens): Hand-cuffed
Tobalev (Habs): Brisebois
Always good to get a vastly different point of view. One not coloured by Pierre Houde/Benoit Brunet or the 110% guys. Thanks to Sens Chirp for taking part. Make sure you go by his site (Sens Chirp), dear readers, as it's a good old Sens blog with a taste for the rumour (which we'd all guiltily have to admit we love too, I think...)
Good game. GHG.