This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.
Tuesday, November 10 – Senators @ Predators
I’ll tell you this for free – before you decide to start writing a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents, check the schedule to make sure that you won’t have to come up with two separate hot takes on the Predators in the space of a month. Can’t be done. And while that probably speaks to how uninteresting the Predators are, or how little of a rivalry they have with Ottawa, it’s also a poor way to begin Week 6 of our Hater’s Guide. But everything I said four weeks ago still stands, right? Mike Ribeiro is still a creep?
Tuesday’s game marks the end of this season’s home-and-home series with the Predators, and you might think they have a significant home-ice advantage in this one, what with the Senators having two days beforehand to hit Nashville’s Broadway strip for cowboy tapas and pickle-based whiskey cocktails until they get all bloated and groggy. But believe it or not, most professional athletes know better than that – okay, okay, not you, Patrick – and it’s only the media that go out and get completely destroyed in Nashville at this point. And lord, will they tell you about it. Come on, media. Act like you’ve been there before. After all, you have – last year, remember? No?
PREDICTION: The Predators are muddling along in a tough Central Division, having lost four of their last six, while the Senators are still smarting from Saturday’s improbable, impossible last-second collapse to the Hurricanes. Look for Chris Neil and Mike Fisher to share a quiet and respectful pre-game prayer, and then for the Senators to recreate all the good parts of the Old Testament. Senators 5, Predators 0.
Thursday, November 12 – Senators vs. Canucks
Ah, here we go. For the last few years this piece would have written itself. The Canucks – those whining, diving losers, those kids who’d taunt and taunt you until you hit them and they ran crying to a teacher, those employers of Ryan Kesler – were pretty unanimously the most hated team in the NHL. In a way, they were even more fun to hate than the Leafs, in that while neither had won anything since 1967, at least you got to watch the Canucks fail bitterly at the highest level and then see their own city burn down. We just need to make a couple riot jokes, a few digs at Alex Burrows, and we’re done – who’s thirsty?
But oh, how times have changed in Vancouver. The Canucks have more or less tread water since their Cup final loss to Boston – swapping out parts here and there, burning through goaltenders, and wondering when age will finally catch up to their Swedish captain – without ever making it out of the first round of the playoffs. In other words, they are now the 2010 Senators, which is arguably a fate worse than losing. Rather, they’re trapped in a hell of their own making between contending and rebuilding, making increasingly bizarre decisions like bringing in Brandon Sutter as a “second-line centre”, Brandon Prust as a “tough guy”, and 72-year-old Ryan Miller as a “big-game” goalie. We say this every year, but this is going to be the year the Canucks crash, hard, and it will be glorious. Okay, now who’s thirsty?
PREDICTION: This game marks the beginning of a five-game homestand for the Senators; that initial period when you’re home after a long time on the road is the best, isn’t it? Back in your own bed, familiar television, no reaching into your pocket for weird, crumpled paper money when you’re buying jerky – for a couple days you’re on a real high, before you remember being at home also means buying groceries, and caring about municipal politics, and that familiar malaise you’d been running from starts to set in again. But look for the Senators to capitalize on that initial positive energy in this game, and for the Canucks to continue to be a complete embarrassment to their city, their country, and the concept of organized hockey. Senators 5, Canucks 0.
Saturday, November 14 – Senators vs. Rangers
Ah, the New York Rangers, the only “Original Six” franchise that’s managed to win a Stanley Cup since the Canadiens last did, other than Boston, Chicago (three times), and Detroit (four). Am I missing anybody? Doesn’t matter, let’s move on. The Rangers are a good team, but really, truly hating them seems to be one of those things you need to live in New Jersey or Philadelphia to understand, like pork roll, or Bon Jovi. The rest of us? Eh. It’s only been three years since the Rangers mugged Erik Karlsson en route to a seven-game playoff win over the Senators, and most of you probably don’t even remember it.
This is the first of three Senators games against the Rangers this season, so if we’re going to learn to hate the Rangers, let’s start at square one, with Henrik Lundqvist, that beautiful, rich, famous, popular, world-class goaltender you’ve heard so much about. You know those kids in high school who were good at everything? They probably work for Lundqvist now, developing his new signature fragrance. You may think you have it all, but then you look at Lundqvist – cool friends, cool clothes, electric guitar constantly at the ready in case a celebrity jam breaks out and needs a ham-fisted Sweet Child o’ Mine solo – and you realize how far from the 1% you really are. And this is the man that wants to beat your hockey team, after you broke your back all week shovelling meat? Do not stand for it.
PREDICTION: This is a Saturday afternoon game, which historically has been anathema for the Senators, although expect this year to be different. Why, you ask? Thanks for asking. Senators 5, Rangers 0.
Season prediction record: 7-4-3
Next week: Michigan! Ohio! Pennsylvania! They don’t just have meth; they’ve also got hockey teams! Get to know ’em!