This could very well be the most emotional football game of the 2014 CFL season, but for reasons that have nothing to do with the on-field product itself.
Tomorrow evening, the Montreal Alouettes will make their second trip to Canada’s capital city to face the Ottawa RedBlacks. For the fans that live in the nation’s capital, this game will hopefully serve as a positive distraction from the attack of Parliament Hill yesterday that resulted in the tragic death of a Canadian military member.
This will be the first major sporting event since this incident took place and the near 25,000 spectators at TD Place will want to put the rest of the world on notice that Ottawa is a united city and that terrorism shall not prevail in this great country of ours!
The Alouettes will be looking to keep pace in the East and win their 5th game in a row whereas Ottawa will be playing not only for the reasons listed above, but also for personal pride and the possibility of giving some of their younger/less experienced players some much-needed game experience.
A win versus Ottawa won’t yield the first place Alouettes a playoff berth just yet. But with Toronto and Hamilton playing each other on Saturday, the Als will be wise to keep pace with a victory. The last time the Alouettes and RedBlacks faced off at TD Place, it was a tight defensive affair and Montreal escaped with a narrow win. Jonathan Crompton was held in check for that game and that will have to change tomorrow.
With Tyrell Sutton playing with a renewed intensity, the ground game should be expanded upon tomorrow. Sutton, Chris Rainey and James Rodgers are all explosive runners who can stymie defenders with their incredible speed. If the Alouettes couple that with Crompton’s continued use of the read option, Ottawa’s defenders will eventually be worn down.
Montreal’s elite defense will have to continue their forcing of two and outs while doling out punishment to opposing quarterbacks. They’re hurting now with injuries to guys like Gabriel Knapton and Aaron Lavarias so youngsters like Andrew Lue, Jeff Finley and James Tuck will have to step in and play at a level like never before. This stout defense kept Toronto’s Ricky Ray from finding the end zone last week and they will have to do the same thing to RedBlacks QB Henry Burris.
The one bright spot for Ottawa this year has been their defense, which has prevented some pretty powerful teams from running up the score. Much like the Alouettes, the Ottawa defense has kept their team in games that would have otherwise been blowouts. They can even lay claim to having kept the Alouettes’ offense out of the end zone during their last battle!
With only three games left in the regular season, the idea that this game is a gimme for the Alouettes is a very foolish one. Much like they did this past Saturday in Toronto, Montreal will have to bring everything they have and make a statement versus the RedBlacks. An Alouettes win tomorrow will also mean an equal record of 8-8, keeping alive the possibility of a positive overall record in 2014.
A positive record will also help greatly in hopefully earning not only a playoff spot, but a first round bye in the playoffs. Regardless of what happens in the West, both first and second place teams in the East will host playoff games. There is still so much to be sorted out and the best thing that the Alouettes can do for their playoff hopes is to just keep on winning.
I’m sure everyone will get caught up in the spectacle that tomorrow’s game will bring. But at the end of the day, the Alouettes are still in a playoff hunt. They’ve answered the call when needed and I don’t expect that to change as they walk into an emotionally charged TD Place.
With Parliament Hill being relatively close to TD Place, security will be surely heightened for the game so if you are planning on attending, arrive early and avoid bringing anything to the game that will impede the folks that are there for your safety and well-being.
Normally I am all for encouraging you fans to bring whatever noisemakers you can to the stadium but perhaps for one night, just bring your voice and a pair of hands in order to make as much noise as possible.
The nation will be watching on TSN & RDS, so be prepared for a heartfelt and stirring rendition of O Canada from everyone who will be attending the game. Everyone is expecting the Ottawa Senators game on Saturday to provide that same feeling of civic pride that the Red Sox gave the city of Boston after their terrorist attacks, but I think Ottawa’s football fans are up to the task!
This game will also be the CFL Pink game for the RedBlacks and players from both teams will be wearing pink apparel on the field. Fans will also be able to purchase CFL Pink gear at the stadium with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
Even with what happened in the city of Ottawa yesterday and the want to properly pay tribute to that, I sincerely hope fans will also remember to support this great initiative as well. I can think of no better way to showcase the pride of not only Canadian football fans, but Canadian people as a whole.
Tomorrow evening at 6:30pm we will not be merely Alouettes Nation or RNation, we will be ONE Nation. For more info on what to expect for tomorrow’s game, be sure to check out the RedBlacks web site and follow me on Twitter for last minute news.
That’s all for now. I’m looking forward to seeing as many fellow fans as possible at TD Place tomorrow. Give a listen to the Bleed RedBlacks podcast and as always, enjoy the game no matter where you watch it from.