It used to be that a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs brought much misery to fans of the Ottawa Senators. It normally meant for a long night and one ending badly for the followers of the red, white and black.
But this year things are decidedly different, a meeting between the Leafs and Sens is more than likely to result in a thumping of the Maple Leaf Nation both on the scoreboard and on the ice.
Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada prime time attraction was no different, as the Senators provided the home town crowd with many enjoyable moments. The Sens were led through the night by Jason Spezza, who continues to try to play his way onto the Olympic team by sheer point’s volume. Spezza contributed a three point night on the way to a convincing 8-2 demolition of the Maple Leafs.
The avalanche of goals did not come until the second and third periods after a stellar performance by Ed Belfour in the first; Belfour held the Sens at bay shot after shot as his defence abandoned him on this Saturday night. Forwards refused to back check and seemed unable to keep up with the Sens skating as the second period passed its midway point, after the Sens picked up their fourth goal one just got the impression the rest of the night would be a long one for the Eagle. Too many Leaf penalties resulted in too many power play opportunities for a skilled Ottawa side, who took advantage of their good fortune most of the night.
Toronto could not put together much of an offensive attack on Saturday, giving Domenic Hasek only infrequent appearances on national television. The first period shots of goal told the tale of how this game would eventually work out, Ottawa had directed 18 shots at Belfour in the first period, the Leafs had tested Hasek only five times in that same period of time.
As is the case with these two teams the play turned chippy as things got out of hand on the scoreboard, numerous fights would break out during the third period and some particularly nasty stick work would flare up from time to time. One incident between Carlo Colaiacovo and Jason Spezza highlighted the frustration of the Leafs on the night. A spear to Spezza at the blue line, resulted in a punch up inside the Leafs goal crease as Spezza tried to provide a little frontier justice for the infraction.
The attempt by the Leafs to intimidate the Sens once again did not work, in previous years the Leafs would dominate a Sens game simply by out hitting them, taking the softer players on and dishing out the heavy hits when the right time would come along.
This year it’s the Sens who are playing the body hard, not allowing the Leafs to take any liberties against their players and more importantly of all not being run out of their own arena any more.
It’s still early yet, but the notices are being posted for April and the playoffs, no one can come into Ottawa anymore and take liberties and points away from these Sens. All attempts to do so will be dealt with in a most unpleasant manner, both on the scoreboard and in the penalty box.