Thursday, May 25, 2017

ECF 2017 Game 7 Tonight

So here we are just hours away from game 7 of 2017's Eastern Conference Final, and Your Ottawa Senators are still in it. I have to admit, I was one of the doubters at the beginning of the season -- the team just didn't look fundamentally different from that team that failed to get into the playoffs last year. Nobody seriously thought that this team had it in them. And yet, here we are.

I've said on more than one occasion that I think in the current parity league, the gap between the best and the worst in the NHL is much, much smaller than it ever has been in the past, and that on any given night, any given team could beat any other given team. It means that, in the absence of a massive differential, randomness plays a much bigger role than it would have in the past.

I am by no means a hockey fan any more -- if, indeed, I ever really was a "real" hockey fan, but I'm still interested in the Senators' progress. It still bothers me to watch the team play Playoff Hockey, with the meat-grinder play and wheel-o-randomness officiating. I've actually watched more of the west's games because I have nothing invested in the outcome, so I can just watch hockey.

It will be interesting to see what this season does for the relationship between Ottawa and the Senators. The city has been abandoning the team to a certain extent. Certainly nobody expected there to be tickets going unsold for playoff games of any round. I am sure that Phoenix and the flood are factors, as is the fact that the arena is in the middle of nowhere. Jacking up the playoff ticket prices and boosting the parking pricing doesn't help either. Fundamentally though this team never looked like deep playoff team, and the Ottawa fan base isn't deep enough to sell out routine, grinder games. Ottawa likes a winner, and we are unlikely to see that in today's league of parity.

If there is a lesson to be learned from all this, it is that nobody really understands hockey. Ottawa was 50:1 at the beginning of the season to win the Stanley Cup. But they avoided injuries, played their system, got the bounces and the calls that all add up to tonight -- one single chance to beat Pittsburgh to go to the final. And the team has shown that they can win on the road and -- specifically -- that they can win in the Penguin's arena. So it is possible, even if it is, in the long run, unlikely.

I probably won't be watching tonight. But I still hope they win.