Yesterday after the Ottawa Senators were royally trounced by the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-3 to fall behind in the best-of-seven series 3-1, Daniel Alfredsson spoke to reporters. One asked him a fairly generic question that, for once, drew an original response. He was asked if it was feasible to beat Pittsburgh three straight times, which is the type of rote exercise that usually launches Athlete Answer Playlist 16, which starts “of course, we’ve beat them before, one game at a time…”
Alfredsson said “Probably not.”
He added: “With their depth and power play right now it doesn’t look too good.”
Fearing that might come off as too negative (or that’s my guess, anyway), he continued with what might as well have been “blah blah blah”: “I know what we’re going to do – we’re going to go out and we’re going to play one hell of a game. That doesn’t worry me at all. We know the odds are against us in every way but we never quit.”
So what we have today is people around the hockey world weighing in on Alfie’s comments, some berating his leadership, some saying he’s rolling over, and some just flapping their internet gums because hell, that’s what we do now. I’m in the process myself.
So let’s get to it. Here are all the reasons Alfredsson’s brief initial comments were awesome:
They probably can’t beat Pittsburgh three straight times. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to try his friggin’ bag off and throw his face in front of slapshots to try, but they probably cannot (as the reporter asking the question is likely aware of). They are not as good a hockey team as Pittsburgh, black, white. It’s tough to beat a crap hockey team (comparative crap, as NHL parity goes) three straight times let alone one that made Mark Methot say “We’re up against a monster here” in his post-game.
Alfredsson was clearly affected by the reality of the Senators situation, which was win last night or exit playoffs this round. He grabbed the puck after the final whistle (“lots of kids at home,” he explained), he felt no need to fire scattershot clichés at reporters, he was badly disappointed in the how the game played out. The writing on the wall is going to affect a guy on the verge of retirement a good deal.
There’s a small chance there was some calculation to his comments, and he was hoping light a fire under his teammates. Small chance, but it’s possible.
There’s no doubt that for the Senators to beat the Penguins, they need a lot of things to go right. They need sensational goaltending, a ton of shot blocking, some poor goaltending at the other end…they need to be the Montreal Canadiens of 2010, pressure-free and scrappy. Pesky, if you will. Comments like this ensure that the pressure is on Pittsburgh. Pressure to put the Sens away, to have time to rest, to do what they’re supposed to do. A Sens win in Pittsburgh, and boy…coming back to Ottawa for a big game six…who knows?
A lot of peole don’t realize how things are behind the scenes with hockey players. You’d be silly to think when guys are relaxing over a beer after a loss that the conversation is always “We’ll get ‘em next time champ, we can do this, rah rah!” It’s a lot of “Oh man, we are f^&%ed, I cannot believe how stacked those guys are. How hilarious is it watching ____ try to defend ___? Lolololol.” Guys aren’t reality-blind because of the logo on their chest.
What Alfredsson said has been said 100 times before by players on Ottawa (just not publicly), likely before the series even started. So for him to say it now down 3-1 in the series…right on. I support it.
Because is it feasible for them to beat Pittsburgh three straight times?