Before a first-period face-off in Game 1 of the Stars-Oilers series on April 9, Dallas fourth-line rookie pest Steve Ott leaned in against Edmonton enforcer Georges Laraque and elbowed him in the ribs. "Georges," the 6-foot, 185-pound Ott said, "it's going to be a long night for you." The 6'3", 245-pound Laraque, who is the NHL's top heavyweight, was amused. "What can you do," Laraque replied, "to make it a long night for me?"
In the third period, after Laraque's linemate Shawn Horcoff scored the eventual game-winner in a 2-1 victory with Ott on the ice, Laraque skated by Ott and said, "You won't even play next game. " You're a minus player." 1
At a morning practice before Game 2 last Friday, Laraque found out that Ott, indeed, would be scratched for that night's match. Laraque laughed heartily and said to a reporter, "Do me a favor. Tell [ Ott], 'Georges says it's going to be a long night for you.' "
Villain Returns to Ottawa
Yashin Bashing Is in Season
Midway through the second period of Game 2 between the Senators and the Islanders last Saturday night in Ottawa, fans waving a KEEP BASHIN' YASHIN sign written in bloodred block letters drew a cheer from the crowd. The only thing that the Ottawa faithful wanted to see more than a Senators win to square the series was New York center Alexei Yashin get shut down—and crunched.
The former Ottawa captain, whose eight years with the Senators were punctuated by acrimony, left with a reputation as a selfish player. In June 2001, Yashin was dealt to New York for Zdeno Chara and a first-round draft pick, and last season Yashin starred for the Islanders. This year his play fell off dramatically, and he was demoted to the fourth line for much of the second half.
In Game 1 of the series, the No. 1-seeded Senators seemed intent on physically punishing Yashin, knocking his helmet off twice and giving him a fat lip. In doing so they knocked themselves off their game and were upset 3-0. To make matters worse, Yashin bounced back from each pounding and even scored a goal.
It is clear that Yashin holds a key to this series. In Game 2, despite the fans' urging, the Senators backed off the Yashin bashing and returned to their crisp, accurate passes and solid defense, dominating the Islanders in a 3-0 victory. Along the way Ottawa held Yashin to three shots. Yashin broke loose in Game 3 on Monday night in New York with two points, but the Senators took a 2-1 series lead with a 3-2 double-OT win. Regardless, one thing is certain: Yashin will be back in Ottawa for Game 5 on Thursday night, and the reception will be rude.