It was not exactly a storybook ending for the homecoming of Ottawa's Ben Eager unless, of course, the book is being written by The Brothers Grimson.
Eager, the Flyers' feisty rookie, was kicked out of yesterday's 6-1 loss to the Senators after he opted not to fight Ottawa tough guy Brian McGrattan in the waning minutes, preferring to let the point of his stick make his point.
Eager speared McGrattan in the gut, leading McGrattan to characterize Eager as a "coward."
"You go to fight the guy leading the other team in penalty minutes and you expect him to fight, not give you a stick in the gut," said McGrattan.
"Maybe he knew what was coming to him so he hid behind his stick."
Eager, at 6-foot-3 and 225 lbs., leads the Flyers with 100 penalty minutes (he's had 10 fights this year, but none with NHL heavyweights).
The 22-year-old wasn't making any apologies.
"It's 6-1. (Eight) minutes left in the game. I don't see it as the time (to fight)," he said.
"I don't know, maybe (McGrattan) wanted to feel like he did something (last night). He plays four minutes a night and he wants to fight everyone."
The spear didn't go over well with McGrattan's gut or Flyers coach John Stevens.
"My thing is it's always got to be in the best interests of the hockey team and that wasn't," said Stevens. "That was an undisciplined play and it had nothing to do with the best interests of the hockey team, regardless of the score."
Just something else for McGrattan to file away.
HEAR AND THERE: Graham and LuAnn Snyder, the parents of late Atlanta Thrashers forward Dan Snyder, were at Scotiabank Place yesterday as part of their cross-country tour to raise money for the Dan Snyder Memorial Foundation. Snyder died after the car he was riding in with Senators forward Dany Heatley crashed in an Atlanta suburb in 2003. "It'll be great to see them after (the game). They've been on the tour and logging the miles," said Heatley, who had two goals and an assist yesterday. The Snyders, travelling in an RV, are hitting every NHL city in the hopes of raising money for scholarships for athletes and to help fund a recreational centre in their home town of Elmira ... It looked like Philly's Jeff Carter made a nice move to get by Senators D Wade Redden early in the second, but nobody told Redden's right hip. It caught Carter at the last second and spilled him to the ice.
THE BUZZ: The presence of an Oilers scout at yesterday's game is going to do nothing to deter the rumours of a deal sending Philly D Joni Pitkanen to Alberta ...Senators D Joe Corvo had an unfortunate view of R.J. Umberger's breakaway goal in the second period to make it 2-1. After failing to trip, hold or hook Atlanta's Slava Kozlov, despite his best attempts, on what turned out to be a game-winning goal on a breakaway on New Year's Day, Corvo didn't even try to foul Umberger yesterday.
REVELATIONS: Martin Gerber got an early test when a long shot skipped in front of him. What's the sound of 18,509 fans (and about 39 players) holding their breath? You heard it just then ... Another indication of how Christoph Schubert's game continues to grow is seeing him out there killing penalties as a forward again yesterday...McGrattan got kicked out of the game after Eager speared him, assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a misconduct despite not doing anything but apparently getting speared. Why? "Just because it's me," said McGrattan.
SPECULATIONS: Eager probably wouldn't have liked anything better than scoring a goal in his home town (except a Flyers win, maybe) and he had a heckuva shift in the first, just missing with a backhander and doing some great board work that led to a good chance for Umberger ... Eager did get the assist on Umberger's breakaway goal early in the second ... Gerber was good yesterday, but there still a couple of occasions where he looked like he just didn't know where the puck was. Along as it's not in the net, it's not that big a deal, right? But it's still not a look that inspires confidence ... When Senators coach Bryan Murray met the media after the game, he asked: "Who picked the three stars?" Murray felt Senators C Chris Kelly deserved one.
LEMME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: The plays that led to the Senators' first two goals were both started with captain Daniel Alfredsson doing a great job of controlling the puck along the right boards until teammates were in position to strike ... Schubert showed some great hustle on Josh Hennessy's first NHL goal in the second period, jumping by Philly D David Printz to snap a sharp-angled shot on the net with Hennessy knocking in the rebound ... Hennessy, as you might expect, was quite pleased after the game. "I'd like to do this for the next 15 years," he said. Alas, he was assigned to Binghamton of the AHL after the game. For yesterday, anyway, it was more like another 15 minutes.