It’s a whole new atmosphere in Ottawa these days; the nights of walking into the Corel Centre and pushing the Sens around have been banished. Friday night’s match between the LA Kings and the Ottawa Senators had all the elements of an old time feud. With Ottawa dominating the on ice scoring by a final of 5-1, the Kings decided to bring the physical game to a new level.
With King Sean Avery stirring the pot through the game including crashing the net of Sens goaltender Domenik Hasek, removing the Dominators helmet in the process, the night was ripe for some vigilante work. Avery would get his at the hands of enforcer Brian McGratton, who dished out a little pay back in the second period. Yet the chippy play by the Kings continued as the score got further and further out of reach.
This is not the Senators team of old; nobody pushes this team around anymore. The Sens on Friday continued to put the NHL on watch that if you take liberties with their players you will be dealt with accordingly and no fear of fine shall stand in the way.
The third period saw Senator Chris Neil expelled from the game for a hit from behind on the Kings Dustin Brown. The nastiness continued through the third with a number of fights breaking out and some rather blatant attempts at intimidation taking place in the Ottawa end. Finally Zdeno Chara took up the challenge in the waning moments of the game, as things continued to get ugly on the ice. Chara took on a rather non combative Tim Gleason with only 3:21 to go in the game. It’s a move that will cost the Sens defenceman a suspension of one game and take 10,000 dollars out of Bryan Murray’s wallet.
According to NHL rules anyone instigating a fight in the last five minutes of the game is subject to discipline, and Chara faced justice on Saturday when NHL police chief Colin Campbell laid down the law.
Yet no one is probably complaining at the Senators offices, the show of toughness by the Sens is seen as a notice to all others that this Senators team will not be afraid to play when the going gets tough. While the Kings were the target of the lesson on Friday night, don’t doubt for a minute that it was probably something noticed in Philly and Toronto.
More importantly it was noticed right at home in Ottawa, for Sens fans this year has shown so far that nothing is going to get in the way of the Senators as they follow the path towards the Stanley Cup. You pick the style of play; the Senators will be there when the puck drops!