This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.
Wednesday, October 14 – Senators @ Blue Jackets
I am told that the Columbus Blue Jackets are an NHL hockey team, but I have yet to see any actual proof. Yes, NHL.com has a few blurry photos at a distance of what looks like a hockey team, playing in the generically-named “Nationwide Arena” and wearing some kind of star-spangled logo that looks like it was mocked up for NHL 15 “Create Team” mode, or maybe a conservative think tank. But it all looks faker than the moon landing, and sure enough, my own Google image search for “Columbus Blue Jackets” only returns this picture. Now, I’m not saying the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t real, even if they only turn out to be a collection of ex-Rangers in slightly different uniforms, but I can’t find any record of people discussing the Columbus Blue Jackets online, whereas I can find all kinds of people discussing, say, Microsoft Powerpoint. And any allegedly-real NHL club that only prompts you to think about Microsoft Powerpoint suggests, at a minimum, a real failure to street-team.
In fact, even though Wikipedia tells me Columbus is the “largest city in Ohio,” I’ve never heard of it either, and if you told me Columbus, Ohio was in fact a fake city invented as a corporate headquarters for some conglomerate like DuPont, I’d believe you. My point with all of this is that it’s very hard to actually hate the Columbus Blue Jackets, which seems at best to be like hating a vague and mostly improbable concept, like voting rights for dogs, as opposed to hating a real, tangible thing, like Powerpoint, which keeps changing my fonts when I start the slideshow and – there you go, they’ve got me doing it again.
PREDICTION: We all know what’s going on here. The Senators will travel to the same central Ohio warehouse where the moon landing was filmed, where, under the watchful eye of the NHL and the DuPont corporation, they’ll participate in a series of passing drills against the same plastic mannequins the Leafs practice against/employ on their blue line, which Sportsnet will then church up with some CGI and audio from a 2011 Senators-Rangers game and air, assuming you’re too drunk to notice the difference. And you probably will be. You may ask why the league would go to all this trouble to orchestrate a vast conspiracy around a fake eastern conference franchise, to which I’d ask if you’d rather go to Quebec City. Didn’t think so. Senators 5, Blue Jackets 0.
Thursday, October 15 – Senators @ Penguins
A lot has been made about how the Penguins (team motto: “Complaining: A Tradition of Excellence”) now have Sidney Crosby AND Evgeni Malkin AND ol’ hickory ham Phil Kessel, as if all these guys can score at the same time in some kind of pinball-style multi-puck bonus round. But they can’t, and as talented as the Penguins may look on paper, we don’t play hockey on paper, PIttsburgh, we play it on ice. And last time I checked, ice, though white like paper, is also colder, wetter, and harder. If you listen carefully, you can actually hear the Penguins complaining about this. It’s fine, this is normal.
I’d also like to point out that outside of its top six, this team has less depth than a Twilight novel. The next time you’re waiting in line at the bank or the bait shop, thinking about whether the Senators, who finished ninth in league scoring last year, can match up against a team like the Penguins, just repeat this phrase: “third-line centre Nick Bonino.” Feel better? Yuengling sucks, by the way.
PREDICTION: You may recall that during the last game between these two teams in April, the Senators rallied from a 3-0 deficit behind two Mark Stone goals to win 4-3 in overtime and keep their miracle run to the playoffs alive. The Penguins will certainly remember, so expect them to try to make sure this week’s game isn’t nearly as close. They’ll succeed, although that will mostly consist of following every Mark Stone takeaway by making the same faces to the referee as you’d see from a five-year-old being forced to eat a hard-boiled egg. Senators 5, Penguins 0.
Saturday, October 17 – Senators vs. Predators
The hack joke here is to suggest that Predators fans are a bunch of know-nothing hill people who only show up to watch foreigners shoot a puck they can’t even follow because they couldn’t get tickets to Clem T. Possumhole’s Biscuit Time Revue at the Opryland Casino BBQ, or something. This is incorrect, and shame on you. Most Nashvillians who follow the Predators are just like fans of any other non-traditional, out-of-market sport: knowledgeable, enthusiastic, even evangelical. In other words, they are exactly the type of hockey fans most Canadians pretend to be. Of course Nashville is going to win a Stanley Cup before any teams in Canada do.
That said, there are still a lot of valid reasons to hate the Predators. For God’s sake, their career points leader is David Legwand, or as he’s currently known in Buffalo, “the best part of the Robin Lehner trade”. Their first-line centre might be the biggest creep in the league, which is saying something, and the Predators are venal enough to employ him while simultaneously celebrating the character and humanitarian work of second-line centre Mike Fisher, as if this balances everything out. Their uniforms resemble the contents of a baby’s stomach. And Shea Weber, talented though he is, looks like a man who has probably eaten horse. Don’t worry, everybody. We can still hate our way through this.
PREDICTION: This game is in Kanata, which means there will likely be just as many country songs, faded Wranglers, and pickup truck-related arguments as if the game were held in Nashville. On the plus side, there will probably be fewer frosted sideburns. In any event, the Predators are the kind of western conference team Bobby Ryan used to dine out on, so if he doesn’t have five goals by the time this game rolls around, expect the rest on Saturday. Senators 5, Predators 0.
Season prediction record: 2-1-0
Next week: the fetid hellscapes of Glendale and Newark!