January 21, 2006
(OTTAWA) -- Being an unabashedly bias reporter from mapleleafs.com here in Ottawa, one feels a little like a fish out of water, like say Luke Skywalker felt, traipsing through the Death Star on a rescue mission for Princess Leia.
|I can't hear you - La, La, La, La, La, La... |
Except, Luke would of course affect the outcome of his mission unlike said reporter and two points for the Maple Leafs would have been a whole lot prettier than Leia ever was right about now.
And even surrounded by a sea of red-clad members of the wrong side of the Battle of Ontario, there is relief in the fact that scattered amongst them are thousands of citizens of Leafs Nation.
As per usual for installments of the Battle of Ontario, this one began in the stands as the Blue and White faithful started the "Go Leafs Go" chants forty minutes before game time, while the Senators backers attempted to drown them out with their own version of the familiar mantra.
Eventually, the chant morphs into something like, "Go Sleafs Go". And at least this way, everybody's happy.
But on the ice, things got serious for the Leafs pretty quick and no one in a white jersey was very happy.
With Pat Quinn sticking with his line combinations intact, the offensively gifted Senators jumped on top early and often and picked up the torrid pace from where this season series left off. The Senators outscored the Leafs 16-2 in the teams' last two meetings.
After two periods, the situation hadn't got any better as the Leafs were down six - count "em - six goals, but the ambassadors of Leafs Nation in the newly-named Scotiabank Place were undeterred and demonstrated that the only thing that runs as deep as their love for the Blue and White is their loathing for the red and black.
After forty minutes, and with that six-goal deficit, more than one group of unfaultering Leafs fans were heard strolling through the enemy's concourse singing a familiar song in Toronto that takes solace in the triumphs of springtimes passed (sung to the tune of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, with lyrics credited to Pete Cugno)
| LEAFS LINES |
| PONIKAROVSKY || ALLISON || ANTROPOV |
| KILGER || SUNDIN || STEEN |
| STAJAN || O'NEILL || WELLWOOD |
| DOMI || WILM || BELAK |
| DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS |
| BERG | KHAVANOV |
| COLAIACOVO | KABERLE |
| KRONWALL | KLEE |
"Oh three cheers for Ottawa
A lesson they'll be taught-awa
Alfredsson and Spezz-awa
You'll soon be golfing a lot-awa
What else rhymes with Ottawa?
Not a whole heck of a lot-awa
They're the team we already forgot-awa
"Cause the Stanley Cup will never go to Ottawa"
The great part about this rivalry though is that as much as the fans despise the other's team, it's all in good fun. Rest assured, Leafs fans attempting such a stunt in say, Philadelphia, would either; a) not make it out of there alive or b) require a SWAT team escort to make it out of there alive.
These guys though, didn't need a SWAT team and at worst were met with good-natured jeers and hisses.
"Naw, it's all in good fun here," said supplanted Torontonian Peter Mitchell. "The most that comes up is a little back-and-forth, but everybody knows were all here to have a good time and we Leafs fans aren't going to let it ruin our fun just "cause the boys are down."
"It's always fun when these two teams play up here. It's always pretty equal with the Leafs and Sens fans. We'll get "em on Monday though - and we'll be louder!"
Really that's the best part of the equation for the Maple Leafs. It's only one practice day before they return to the semi-hostile environment here and face off against the Sens for the sixth meeting of the season between the rivals.
NOTES: This is the first time the Leafs have lost five-straight games in Pat Quinn's tenure. Saturday was the 1000th game in Senators franchise history. Saturday's attendance at Scotiabank Place was 20, 093, the most fans ever in the building for a hockey game.