Hopeful Karlsson shoots for call-up

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Erik Karlsson's return to Scotiabank Place Sunday -- with the Senators' management team and coaching staff looking over his shoulder -- did not go the way he wanted.

No goals, no assists, no shots on net even .... and his team didn’t win.

But there's always a next time, right Erik? And on that note, when do you envision skating on this ice surface again, anyway?

“You never know,” the Senators' top prospect said after he and the rest of the Binghamton Senators fell 1-0 to the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of an announced (think maybe half) crowd of 4,588 at the home of their parent club. “I’ve never been sent down before so I have no idea.”

And then, with his trademark sense of humour, Karlsson added: “It can be today, tomorrow, five years, three years ... you never know.”

A moment earlier, with the defeat even fresher in his mind, Karlsson was asked how he was doing.

“Right now, not so good. But otherwise ... I’m okay,” he said. “I still like hockey as much as I did when I came here (to North America).”

Karlsson, who was devastated when Senators GM Bryan Murray demoted him to Bingo after a nine game audition in the NHL, has just one assist (and 12 penalty minutes) in four games with the farm team. But Binghamton coach Don Nachbaur says the 19-year-old Swedish defenceman has played well.

And in his heart, Karlsson believes he’ll be working for Ottawa coach Cory Clouston again this season.

“I think I played a lot better in my ninth game (with the Senators) than I did in my first,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can. I tried as hard as I could. It felt good, but it’s probably good for me to be here, if that’s what Bryan and other guys say. They probably know what’s best for me.

“I just see it as a good opportunity for me to get called back up and be even better.”

Meanwhile, just a day and a half after more than 14,000 watched the same two teams play at Montreal’s Bell Centre, it was Sergei Kostitsyn who managed to score the game’s only goal at 8:48 of the third period. The Baby Sens had just squandered a 5-on-3 power play (some things run in the family) they had for 1:43.

“That (blown chance) really sucked the life out of the building,” said Nachbaur. “And the very next shift they come down and score ... I thought we fell asleep there but boy, both goalies were outstanding. I think both goalies frustrated the opposition teams. I know their goalie sure frustrated me.”

Indeed, Senators 'tender Mike Brodeur looked a little like the guy who had been in the New Jersey net a few hours earlier as he stopped 33 shots. In picking up the shutout, Habs prospect Cedrick Desjardins kicked out 30, including a great save off Binghamton’s leading sniper, Ryan Keller, in the dying seconds.

“Obviously the puck hops out like that, and it’s rolling a bit ... I’d like to put it up a little higher,” said Keller, a stocky winger who spent the past two seasons in Finland and has seven goals in 13 games for Binghamton. “More than half of those go in. It’s one of those things where he makes a good save and you’ve got to hand it to him.”

Brodeur’s best moments included a couple of kick saves off Maxime Lacroix in the game’s seventh minute and a breakaway stop off Ryan Russell in the first minute of the third.

Like his teammates, he relished the opportunity to play in the Ottawa arena, as sparsely inhabited as it was.

“The fans who were in here made a lot of noise,” said Brodeur. “It was a good atmosphere either way. The decision wasn’t the way we want it, but you’ve got to tip your hat once in a while. That other goalie played well.

“To get to play in NHL rinks is awesome.”

Brodeur, who said he felt no extra pressure with Senators brass looking on, particularly enjoys playing in such close, low scoring affairs.

“That’s why we play the game,” said the 26-year-old former Chicago Blackhawks prospect. “Those tight games makes the adrenalin go, makes you happy, makes you want to play the game.”

“There’s always somebody watching,” he added. “There’s always somebody watching your progress and how you’re playing every day. There’s pressure there every night. I don’t think it really changes.”


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