This is a new weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.
Thursday, October 8 – Senators @ Sabres
Buffalo. People are saying Buffalo will be better this year, as if Buffalo could ever not be Bad, even when it’s better, as if God had never said “You know what, Buffalo, it is just not ever going to happen for you,” before going back to pummelling Buffalo with lake-effect snow. The only source of suspense in any Buffalo team’s sporting campaign is whether it will be honest with itself and lose immediately, or whether it will delay the inevitable right up until some kind of “wide right” or “skate in the crease” moment, as if this is somehow preferable. Yet Buffaloans (Buffaloafs?) persevere in the face of this abject loserdom, believing against all available evidence that their “star-crossed” history will only make eventual victory all the sweeter. This is asinine. Buffalo should never be an object of sympathy; it exists solely as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the universe’s inescapable nihilism.
Worst of all, I have heard tell of Senators fans with a soft spot for rival Buffalo, as if a common history of losing engenders some kind of kinship. This is the sort of weakness that’s supposed to be bred out of a species as it climbs the food chain. Any Senators fan that feels anything other than enmity for Buffalo is essentially telling you they’d think twice about climbing over a corpse to rescue themselves from a hole. Do not rely on these people.
PREDICTION: Some say that Robin Lehner has spent his summer gearing up to take revenge on the Senators in this game, presuming that the Robin Lehner Buffalo has traded for is some new version that never falters or melts down during emotional moments. I would say that if you liked the Robin Lehner that glowered at the Senators’ C-list defensemen after giving up yet another soft goal he may have been partially screened on, you’re going to LOVE this year’s Robin Lehner. Senators 5, Sabres 0.
Saturday, October 10 – Senators @ Maple Leafs
Okay, these guys already. You and I, we’ve developed a rapport at this point, right? So let me be real with you – ain’t nobody care about the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015. The only people still making Leafs jokes in 2015 either need to fill four hours of drive-time radio or refer to Twitter favs as “paying the bills”. Except that a Leafs joke in 2015 is less like paying the bills and more like making rent by doing something unsavoury with your landlord. You immediately feel bad about yourself and think about going back to school. The rest of us recognize that the Leafs are just another long-mediocre hockey team whose last relevant game with the Senators took place when Ulysses S. Grant was still alive. We generally ignore them, just like we do the Florida Panthers, or HPV.
I will say this: the general sarcastic pessimism adopted by modern Leafs fans is a cunning defensive strategy, but make no mistake – deep down, they still believe that their Scrooge McDuck vault, nerdy front office, and new “Jack-O’-Lantern on November 15”-headed coach will eventually break the fifty-year wizard’s curse on their franchise as long as they secretly pretend it isn’t happening until the very last minute. In their defense, though, it used to be the last ten minutes.
PREDICTION: The Leafs are now officially “rebuilding” – technically, bulldozing a pile of old cinderblocks counts as “rebuilding” – which basically means this year’s team picture is a copy of last year’s but with leading scorer/ol’ hickory ham Phil Kessel crossed out and like six guys named Brad photoshopped in. Look for the Leafs to set the tone early in this game by showing off the medium energy of a team that’s determined to juuuuust play itself out of a top five draft pick. The only outstanding question here is which of Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri will have the more convincing “Wait ’til I tell my Dad about this” sneer after getting punched in the face by Mark Borowiecki. Senators 5, Maple Leafs 0.
Sunday, October 11 – Senators vs. Canadiens
You wanna #actually hate somebody? Here you go. The Senators play the Habs three more times this year, which affords me several future opportunities to skewer the no-account dirtbags that comprise their roster and spend a moment speaking to you now about their entitled, dim-witted fans. No, that’s unfair, “entitled” is too strong; Habs fans are only entitled the way that a weird tinpot dictator trying to assert rule by divine right atop some disputed-zone trash heap is entitled. Hey Habs fans, you know what it’s called when you’re constantly taking credit for something that happened before you were born? Having a trust fund. You people are why Occupy happened.
They come by it honestly, though. Unlike the Leafs, who at least occasionally demonstrate some grasp of the concept of shame, the Habs try to obscure the fact that they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since Olden Tymes by doubling down on concepts like “tradition” and “heritage”, as if having fans that are actually in their seats before the puck drops is somehow reason enough to make their pre-game ceremonies longer every year. Living in such a high-gravitas enviroment year-round leads to strange decisions, though. Like, imagine if your team’s leader was a young, charismatic, Norris-winning, All-World defenseman that set an example on and off the ice, and then you didn’t make him captain? Crazy, right? But I guess that’s heritage for you.
PREDICTION: You may recall that the last time these two teams met in a meaningful game, the Senators were eliminated from the playoffs following a disallowed goal from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Have you ever seen the movie Falling Down? Remember the scene where Michael Douglas takes a fast food restaurant hostage until he gets his G-D breakfast? Jean-Gabriel Pageau is Michael Douglas, and this game is that breakfast. Senators 5, Canadiens 0.
Next week: a bunch of mid-western teams with dumb-ass jerseys.