My buddy Andrew was in town visiting his fellow 4th Lanark floormates. Andrew graduated from Carleton last year and is currently working on another degree at Western. He gave me a call on Friday to ask if I'd like to go to the Sens game on Saturday night. He got two free tickets and was looking for someone with the same passion for hockey that he has. Of course, I told him I would be delighted.
Now there's a number of difference between going to an NHL game in Ottawa and going to an NHL game in Toronto. The Hek will now elaborate:
Location: The Air Canada Centre is located in the heart of downtown Toronto. Scotiabank Place is located in Kanata which is west of the City of Ottawa. To be more blunt, the Sens' arena is literally located in the middle of nowhere. It's a 20,000 seat entertainment facility that is surrounded by highways and farmlands. Tor: 1; Ott: 0
Traveling: There are two ways to get to the Air Canada Centre. You can drive and park in the many nearby parking stations; or, you can take either the GO Train or TTC to Union Station. Since the ACC is connected to Union Station, you don't have to go outside. To get to Scotiabank Place, you need to take a "400 Series" bus. These busses leave at specific times from their respected stations. You miss it, you're out of luck. When coming home, most busses will make their last departure at around 9:30pm, regardless if the game has finished or not. You miss it, you've got a $40 cab ride back to Ottawa. Tor: 2; Ott: 0
Team: The Ottawa Senators are one of the top teams in the NHL. They have one of most dangerous forward lines (Alfredson, Spezza, Heatley) in the history of hockey. Many experts have picked the Sens to win the Stanley Cup this year. The Toronto Maple Leafs are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and likely going to miss the playoffs. The Leafs suck.
Tor: 2; Ott: 1
Game Program: If you wish to have a game program at a Maple Leafs game, you must pay $5. A game program at the Sens game is FREE. Tor: 2; Ott: 2
Type of game: Those who attend a Leafs game are more likely to see the home team lose. Those who attend a Sens game are more likely to the home team win. OTT: 3; Tor: 2
Now on to the game recap. The Ottawa Senators beat the Buffalo Sabers by a score of 4-2. This game was touted to be a great one as the second place Sabers were just a point behind the first place Sens. The game was good; but not great. The Sabers were very stale for the first two periods. The Sens took advantage of this by outshooting the Sabers 22-5 in the first period and having a 3-0 lead midway through the second. In the third, the Sabers finally started to look like the team that had previously won its last 8 games. The Sens were also getting a little sluggish but managed to hold on for the victory. They sealed the deal with Sens forward Chris Kelly netting an empty netter with 11 seconds to go in the game. To be fair, Buffalo could not buy a break. Any good chance they got resulted them in missing the net or hitting the side of it. Sure, Sens goalie Ray Emery made some good stops but the Sabers' lack of aim and failure to take advantage of defensive miscues was the real reason why they only scored twice. The only player on Buffalo that earned his pay was goalie Ryan Miller who impressively, stopped 45 shots. Miller received the first star of the game. Second star went to the Sens' Zedeno Chara who scored his 13 goal and the third star went to Ottawa's Brian Smolenski who notched a goal and an assist.
All in all it was a fantastic night. It was also great to see Andrew again. And just for the record, Andrew loves the Carolina Hurricanes and The Hek loves the Montreal Canadiens.