Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators - Game Three

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.”

Okay then.

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:

Honesty

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.

Emotion

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.

Captain-stuff

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.

And finally…

Underdog mentality

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?

Probably not.

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Comments (14)

  1. I’ve never liked the sens at all but have come to grudgingly admire Alfie. He’s played his balls off for years and is 40 years old. He’s earned the right to go off message once in a while.

  2. Good for him. If more athletes told us how they really felt, instead of just spitting out the stock answers and cliches, we might actually get some really interesting stuff out of it. Anyone who is complaining about Alfredsson’s “lack of leadership” needs to understand that “Leadership” is one of the most overrated of the many nebulous character “qualities” we attribute to athletes.

  3. Agreed. This insistence on players saying things that they know to be untrue and we know to be untrue just so we can all go “Oh wow what a leader” basically means we value a good performance over honesty. I have no problem with his comments.

  4. I think people often think that leadership is cheerleading… But what an underdog team needs is not a cheerleader… They need to know how insurmountable the odds are… That is what drives a team that overcomes odds on a regular basis.

  5. Not to mention the Pens penchant for believing the hype and coming out with a poor effort because they are “supposed to win”. As a Pens fan I’m more than a little nervousness that the Pens will once again make it harder than it has to be.

  6. But but but. ….goonies never say die!

  7. The man has been an Ottawa Senator his entire career. He’s earned the right to say this sort of thing. Love it.

  8. “Guys aren’t reality-blind because of the logo on their chest.”

    Such a good point. For some reason, when it comes to sports we have this cultural expectation that guys ought to be some kind of competitive robot that will never accept any possibility of defeat until they truly have been beaten. It seeps into fan mentality too, where thinking clearly and objectively about your team often gets interpreted as a lack of support. Every time we get mad at a person for giving an honest answer to a clear question, an angel dies.

  9. Reminds me of when Leafs went in down 3-1. Of course, different teams, but I had the same mentality for my Leafs as Alfie – not likely. But you never know. Look where it almost ended up.

    GL sens

  10. I have no problem with alfeys comments. People are acting like the sens have been eliminated already. I’m a die hard penns fan have been my entire life. The sens are far from out. Yea its cliche to say one game at a time but that’s really how you must look at it. If sens win Friday its 3-2 maybe the penns get a lil nervous. Often a team against elimination wins. So I don’t say its over till its over. Anything can happen. And the sens been up against it all year. They don’t call the pesky sens for nothing

  11. THANK YOU BOURNE! Alfie can say whatever he wants, and, as the beating heart of this organization, I can guarantee everyone in the org from Erik Karlsson to skate sharpener #3 is gonna be in top form friday, trying to get him that ‘one more win’ after seeing him so crushed by this loss.

    Hockey is a weird sport. The chips fall a certain way, and ‘probably not’ could become Alfie’s ‘guarantee’ moment, oddly enough.

  12. We are so used to hearing bullshit, when someone gives us an honest answer, we don’t know how to react. The nerve! I think it’s a refreshing change. Criticism is unwarranted–he never said he’d stop trying.

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