Carkner not about to fight reputation

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

After ending the longest game in Senators history -- and temporarily staving off his team's playoff elimination -- with a pinball shot that found its way past Marc-Andre Fleury last April 22, Matt Carkner is crystal clear on his role for the upcoming season.

"Goal scorer," he said outside Bell Sensplex Monday. "Producing points for the boys."

He's joking.

The 29-year-old defenceman wound up with two goals and nine assists in his first full season in the NHL. He also finished with 190 penalty minutes and had 24 fights, meaning only three players in the league dropped the gloves more often.

After taking nine years to gain full-time NHL employment, Carkner knows how to butter his bread.

"I have to be a big, physical defenceman who takes care of the back end and helps out his teammates ... make sure I'm usually on the plus side out there," said the 6-foot-4, 230- pound Winchester native.

"I've got to add a few elements. Help out more on the (penalty kill) this year. I've talked with (assistant coach Greg Carvel) about improving on that. I'm just looking forward to camp and getting back on the game pace, and all that kind of stuff. Just hopefully keep improving."

The most exciting aspect of the defensive defenceman's game is going toe-to-toe with another heavyweight. Much anticipated will be his vicious bouts with Colton Orr whenever the Senators play the Maple Leafs. Derek Boogaard's switch from the Western Conference to the East means Carkner will also have to run into the guy many consider to be the toughest in the league four times a year, when the Senators play the New York Rangers.

"That's one thing I'm never going to shy away from," he said of fighting.

"I may have to be a little choosier this year, but there's new guys coming into the league, there's always going to be guys looking to prove themselves, to help their teams out, and I'm there for that reason. I'm definitely not forgetting that."

While Carkner falls either fifth or sixth on the Senators' blue-line depth chart, some followers of the team have wondered if coach Cory Clouston would consider using him on the fourth line, should rugged rookie Jared Cowen earn a spot on the blue line.

Carkner did play forward once -- during his one game with the 2008-09 Senators. The problem with that is the Senators are short on overall back-end toughness even with Carkner there.

"I'd be open for anything, but I think they want me here as a defenceman," he said.

"Especially this summer, I haven't really trained as a forward at all. To say that they're going to put me in that position, I don't think so, but I'm definitely up to learn new things. But right now, my focus is on playing defence."


Videos

Photos