The Sound of Inevitability
Daniel Alfredsson had seemingly given up.
When asked if the Senators had a chance to win three straight games versus this Penguins team, Alfie responded,
While this refreshingly brutal honesty may come as a surprise, it’s not really that surprising. The question had been asked shortly after the Sens were pushed to the brink of elimination by the score of 7-3, and the game wasn’t even that close. It was a crushing defeat, where the Penguins got to their game and could not be deterred.
Every player on the Pens top line (Crosby, Kunitz, Dupuis) had a goal. Both wingers on the other top line (Neal and Iginla) had two goals apiece. (Yes, the Pens have two top lines – ya mad bro?). After such a drubbing, it’s easy to see how a player, even a captain aged 40 years, could feel doubtful and downtrodden.
Here’s the thing: Ottawa believed it.
They made it prophecy… with a little help from the Penguins, of course.
They came out in the first period flat, playing with the energy of a team that was just going through the motions. Halfway through the game, nothing had changed and the score was 3-0 Pens. It wasn’t until the end of the second period when Ottawa finally put one behind Vokoun that they showed any life. Malkin, however, scored on a 4 on 4 breakaway shortly thereafter to kill that momentum. James Neal had a hat trick and the final was 6-2. Another blowout, and Ottawa looked every bit as outmatched as they did the game before.
Alfredsson, and all of the Senators, knew they were. It showed.
A team facing elimination should not play that way. They should have a burning fire, a desire to keep going. For Ottawa, it just wasn’t there, and their captain has to shoulder some of that blame.
The Penguins, however, could have sat back and rested on the knowledge that they had Ottawa on the ropes, lost the game and let Ottawa back into the series. To their credit, they didn’t.
The Pens played with the energy that Ottawa should have been playing with. Credit that to the Pens having as many captains as there are jersey letters. Iginla and Morrow, as former captains, have leadership ability. Guys like Kunitz, Dupuis and Orpik do as well, but no one leads more than Crosby. He hustles and fights for everything. He takes no situation for granted. He doesn’t have mental lapses on the ice nor in front of TV cameras.
That is all you need to know about how Alfredsson and Crosby differ. Crosby was ready to fight to the last second while Alfie was ready to book his tee time.
How did the Pens beat Ottawa? It was scoring, defense, goaltending and, most importantly, heart. When things look the bleakest, having heart means showing your team that nothing is inevitable. This is a lesson that Mr. Alfredsson has not learned. I am very thankful that it’s a lesson Crosby has already taken to heart.