With an 8-2 record over their last 10 games and riding a three-
game winning streak, the Senators surged into first place overall
in the Eastern conference. In their last 29 games they are
20-5-4. This period, the Senators avenged their 5-0 home loss to
Philadelphia with a 5-0 victory in Philadelphia. When combined
with their convincing victory against Toronto, the Senators are
starting to look like the team to beat in the Eastern conference.
A cautionary note to this type of thinking may be the Montreal
and Boston losses where both teams avenged recent defeats to the
The big off ice Senator news this period continued to be the
issue of team taxation and fair play in the hockey market place
for Canadian teams. Rod Bryden continued to alert fans and
Canadian citizens with his public message campaign about the
plight of Canadian hockey teams. Overtaxed and unable to get a
fair deal, Bryden has threatened that he may have to move the
team to greener pastures south of the 49th parallel (to the USA).
A team press release this period provided some data as to what
has changed since the June 20th, 1992 date on which Alexei Yashin
was drafted. Both Bryden and the report concur that there are
two main issues.
Firstly, the Canadian dollar has declined significantly; from
1.20 Canadian to the US dollar in June 1992, to 1.52 Canadian to
the US dollar. On today's team payroll of Cdn$ 34.2 million that
represents an increase of Cdn$ 7.2 million (enough to afford
say... one or two serious players).
The second main issue is taxation and public funding of sport
facilities. Estimated taxation on the Senators' Kanata home
(Corel Centre) was 1.2 million in 1992. Tax assessment for 1998
is some $7.4 million (up from $4.3 million the year before).
Don't ask the Nosebleeders where all this extra money is going -
it's not like Kanata has fancier sidewalks or something. In
addition to paying some serious tax, Bryden estimates that the
total tax bill (including real estate, amusement, provincial
surcharges for the highway off ramp, etc) for the team will
exceed payroll (taxes $36
million, payroll $34 million), public funding of new sports
facilities in the US makes the idea of moving south sound
interesting. Quoting the press release "A total of four new
buildings have been built in Canada within the last five years
all four were financed with private capital; while in the United
States, 10 new facilities have been constructed with partial or
total public funding. A further six NHL facilities are currently
being built in the United States. The breakdown of six of the 10
new buildings in the U.S. reveals that Chicago, Philadelphia,
Boston and Washington were privately funded, while Florida and
Nashville are examples of facilities built with public funds.
The difference between each of these publicly-funded buildings
compared to the Corel Centre based on an interest rate of only 8%
is $16 million dollars Cdn a year."
Under circumstances where a team fan support is low or team
expenses are high, Bryden's points could be easily negated.
However, fan support is high (average attendance is over 16,000 a
game and all suites are sold out for the remainder of the
season), and controllable team expenses (salaries) are low. The
Senators have the league's second lowest payroll (first is the
expansion Nashville Predators). Overall the team, which owns its
facility and derives revenue from concessions and non-hockey
events, is struggling just to break even.
Bryden's comments and suggestion of change seems to be gaining
ground. Local radio and news surveys have the general
population, including non-hockey fans, thinking that perhaps this
is a problem to be solved by government. Senior politicians
including Canada's industry minister and party leaders have given
Bryden an audience - particularly on the tax issues and the
impact of the Senators, and other Canadian teams, leaving the
country. We'll see where this one goes folks, but in the short
all the Nosebleeders ask is that we start getting paid in US
dollars (uh...we could buy like two big beers at the game instead
of the one small one we can now afford).
Dudley ready to make some moves?
GM Rick Dudley has to consider making some moves. With the
playoffs around the corner, expect the Senators to make moves to
not only shore up the team in preparation, but to prepare the
team for the impact of the summer expansion draft. Teams must
expose a goaltender who played at least 10 NHL games this season
and they must expose a defensemen and two forwards who have
played in either 40 NHL games this year, or 80 NHL games over the
Lack of emotion causes loss to Bruins
Returning from a five-game road trip, the Boston Bruins were
tasked with facing the red hot (winners of four games in a row)
Ottawa Senators. Maybe it was the fact that they were travelling
for the first time in a while (the Senators had just completed a
six-game homestand) but the Nosebleeders are not sure just what
got into the Senators' Wheaties. They did not come to game ready
to play. A lackluster first period resulted in Boston
outshooting them 14-6 and ending the period with a 3-1 lead. In
an effort to put a spark back into the team, coach Martin pulled
goalie Ron Tugnutt, 9-1-4 in his previous 14 decisions, in favor
of Damian Rhodes. It did not work.
* This was only the second time this season that Ron Tugnutt has
been pulled from a game.
* Senator frustrations boiled over in the dying minutes of the
second period as a wild skirmish ended with Vaclav Prospal (6'2")
in a scrap with Hal Gill (6'7"). Daniel Alfredsson intervened
but referee Bill McCreary, seemingly agreeing the matchup was
uneven, did not call what would normally be a third man in
* The Senators had two goals called back in the game but it was
the Bruins' fifth goal that caused coach Martin, convinced that a
Bruin was in the crease, to become upset with the refereeing.
One of the Senator goals called back was a Daniel Alfredsson slap
shot where Alexei Yashin was called for being in the crease.
Montreal times deux
Any Ottawa-Montreal game is of big interest to Montreal Canadiens
fans (who are we kidding, any Montreal game at all is of big
interest to Montreal fans) but Montreal-Ottawa games hold special
meaning to Ottawa fans. Up until a few years ago, the two-hour
commute to Montreal was the easiest way to see live NHL hockey
(we won't mention beer prices in Montreal). As reports from both
local papers had each team taking three or the possible four
points you just knew that things would be interesting.
A sellout Corel Centre crowd witnessed an Andreas Johansson
effort that included two goals and a collision with Stephane
Quintal that resulted in him being carried off the ice. The
Senators showed a restored confidence as they soundly danced
around the Canadiens defence to take the easy victory. Luckily
for the Senators, the Johansson injury turned out to be no more
than a minor hamstring pull.
The return matchup in Montreal was also a sellout but was a
different game. Pre-game expectations on both sides were that
Montreal was playing lousy hockey and Ottawa was playing great
hockey and we could expect another Ottawa domination. Another
Montreal loss would really put their chances of making the
playoffs at risk. Pre-game expectations do not always match
reality. Another lackluster road effort for the Senators resulted
in an unexpected loss. The only good news for the team was the
return to the lineup of Lance Pitlick (after missing 32 games
because of a hip injury).
Finally a road win
There was a time where "finally a road win" really meant finally
a road win (in the team's first season, their first road win came
in the last road game of the season vs. the Islanders). After
road losses to Boston and Montreal, the Senators visited Long
Island to feast on some Islander ice.
A tight game was broken open by a Daniel Alfredsson go-ahead goal
midway through the third period. The win extended Ottawa's
unbeaten streak against the Islanders to 13 games (10-0-3 in the
series since January 6, 1996).
The Islanders failed to capitalize on four third-period power
plays and were 1-for-7 with the man-advantage.
Flying into Philadelphia
After taking just three of the first 22 meetings against the
Philadelphia Flyers, the 5-0 Sens' victory increased their record
this season against the Flyers to 4-1. Damian Rhodes had
relatively easy night, stopping 19 shots, and Daniel Alfredsson
scored a goal and an assist.
Flyers rookie goalie Jean-Marc Pelletier made his NHL debut on
his 21st birthday. The 6-3 Pelletier performed well, allowing
just one goal over the first 40 minutes before the roof caved in
in the third period.
* The game marked a franchise record 35th victory.
* Alexei Yashin recorded his fifth career hat trick.
* Damian Rhodes posted his second shutout of the season.
* Yashin netted his 30th goal.
Go Tugger Go - Quiz Time
Although being pulled against Boston, Ron Tugnutt is poised to
challenge the modern GAA record of 1.77. Tugnutt, who had posted
a GAA under 3.00 just twice in his 11-year career before this
season, currently sports a 1.64 average. The record is held by
two different goalies (71-72 and 50-51). Name one or both.
National TV Win
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of this year's surprise teams.
Up until a few weeks ago the Leafs had led the Northeast Division
for most of this season. An important Saturday night matchup
against the Senators would either propel the Leafs back into the
first place hunt or put them deeper into the pack.
Ron Tugnutt played a great game, stoning Toronto center Steve
Sullivan a number of times, including once on a penalty shot.
With 12:53 left in the first period, Sullivan was hooked down
from behind by defensemen John Gruden. On the penalty shot,
Sullivan deked backhand to forehand but Tugger did not bite.
After the game, the Tugger claimed he has recently seen a
highlight film of a Sullivan breakaway and he was hoping that
Sullivan would do the same move - he did. The Senators came away
with a convincing 3-1 win.
* The Senators have won three straight and six in a row at home.
* The Senators moved four points ahead of New Jersey for the top
spot in the Eastern Conference.
Looking ahead - road trip
After a home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning (featuring the
return of Alexandre Daigle), the Senators embark on a 12-day road
trip. With less than two months left in the regular season, this
trip could be good to further bond the team together as it gears
up for the playoffs.
Modern day quiz answer
When talking about modern day hockey, the 1943-44 season is the
cutoff point. It was that season that the red line was invented
and thus modern day hockey was born. Tony Esposito (1971-72) and
Al Rollins (1950-51) share the modern day GAA record at a very