Carkner-Orr showdown on hold

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 PM ET

TORONTO — It took a full 20 minutes, but the Senators and Maple Leafs finally got around to officially renewing hostilities Tuesday night.

Zack Smith, the first Ottawa player in years to wear No. 15 and actually show some grit while doing it, went toe-to-toe with Jay Rosehill in a dandy at the end of the first period in pre-season Game 1. 

The tilt everybody was waiting for never transpired, however. The expected battle between Matt Carkner and Colton Orr was a non-starter when Orr didn’t play.

Earlier in the day, Carkner said he’s looking forward to rekindling his rivalry with the Toronto tough man. 

“Oh yeah, you hear it all summer from everyone,” he said. “There’s so many Toronto fans and Ottawa fans in the capital, I hear different things. Some people chirp me, some people praise me. It’s awesome. That’s the thing about playing Ontario teams. It’s a great rivalry and that’s just another story to go along with it.”

Asked if he knew the score from their four bouts last season (that voters on hockeyfights.com had 3-1 in favour of Orr), Carkner grinned and replied: “I don’t know. I think three shifts to (every one of his) one.”

Meanwhile, the pre-season is for rookies to try and make a name for themselves by taking on established fighters, leading one to believe Carkner and Chris Neil would be receiving invitations to dance from the boys in blue.

Coach Cory Clouston wasn’t too worried about his two toughest guys wasting their time or risking injury against somebody who is going to spend the season with Toronto Marlies.

“We’ve also got a couple of other guys,” said the coach. “(Tim) Spencer had a real good rookie camp (Spencer was on the wrong end of a third-period scrap with Mike Brown). Tough guy from the American League. (Francis) Lessard, obviously, has some experience at the NHL level. Big, strong guy. We feel we’ve got more than just a couple of guys. 

“In regards to Matt and Chris, they don’t need to prove anything, but they also need to make sure everybody else is protected. They know that. That’s within them. That’s the type of people they are. They’re not going to let guys take advantage of their teammates.”

Neil, who had a goal and two assists against the Leafs, shrugged when asked if he expected to be challenged.

“I just prepare myself the same as I do for every game,” said Neil, who spent some time on a line with Spencer. “Just go out, play, and if something happens, then it happens. Take care of it then. But we’ve got guys on our team trying to make a name for themselves as well. It’s almost like working your way up the ladder (to get to him and Carkner). We’ve got lots of guys that can take care of business as well. I’m not too concerned about anything.”

Just a feeling, but you should expect a little more nastiness when the teams are more into the swing of things Wednesday.

STARTS AND STOPS

Take heart, Jason Spezza. Leafs fans booed captain Dion Phaneuf as the team’s power-play quarterback skated to the bench following a feeble 5-on-3 advantage in which the home team didn’t get a shot on goal ... They gave it to Phaneuf when the second 5-on-3 was a bust, too ... Nick Foligno earned some points for himself with the way he scored in the first period, neatly stepping around Phaneuf before roofing a shot over Jonas Gustavsson. “He’s going to get a chance,” Clouston said of Foligno’s bid for a job on one of the top two lines. “Healthy competition, I guess, if you want to look at the left side there. He just has to play the game. He’s in better shape right now than he was this time last year. He had a real tough season. Some personal issues that sometimes you don’t realize how difficult it is. I think he’s matured over the year. His attitude, I think, is outstanding. We’re looking forward to seeing him in games. He’s going to be a big part of this team.”

BETWEEN PERIODS

Multi-fauceted media star Liam Maguire recently hosted a gig at which Mike Fisher and Neil were guests. Liam, who likes the odd fight (and even ones, too), prodded Fisher by telling him: “You could drop the gloves a bit more, ya know?” Fisher, who has had 20 scraps in his 10-season career, flashed him a grin. “I can’t,” he said. “My wife doesn’t want me to.” To which Liam, a true rock and roller, piped back: “Are you kidding me? She sings country.” If Neil would have been eating soup, it would have shot out of his nose ... Liked the way W Mike Hoffman manned the point during a first-period Ottawa power play. Something to remember in the future. 

MAKES YOU GO HMMM ... :

If Coke is trying to sell more drinks with The Simpsons commercial played during the intermission at ACC, their ploy is failing. The annoying music that goes along with the ad has me this close to swearing off the product altogether ... With all due respect to Scotiabank Place staple Lyndon Slewidge and talented local anthem singer Tammy Laverty, I liked the way the Leafs did O Canada Tuesday. That is, with the crowd singing ... Congrats to the Senators: They lasted until the third period of pre-season game No. 1 to draw their first too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.

AT THE HORN 

The first casualties of camp were declared Tuesday morning when the Senators sent Jakub Culek (Rimouski) and Mark Stone (Brandon) back to their junior teams ... The Bell Centre will host a game between the Habs’ farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, and the Binghamton Senators on Nov. 5, it was announced Tuesday. Those two teams will also face off at Scotiabank Place Nov. 26.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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