There were just under nine minutes to go in Saturday’s battle with the Flyers when Chris Phillips scored his first of the season — then used that trademark, single-arm salute of his to celebrate such an occasion one more time.
You had to wonder if it was also the Big Rig waving goodbye.
It would have been nice to see the fans salute Phillips earlier in the evening with a loud and long ovation. Just in case the game against Philly was the last for Philly in a Senators jersey.
No one knows for sure whether Phillips will be traded before Monday’s deadline. Or if he’ll sign a contract extension with the team he has played every one of his 925 NHL games for in a solid career. Or if he’ll re-ink with Ottawa or go to another team July 1.
What is certain is that Phillips has been an exemplary player, a model citizen and a great teammate who has turned into a strong leader for the Senators.
By insisting on remaining in Ottawa, he’s not only costing himself a potential shot at the Cup this spring, but likely millions of dollars — either money he could have made on his next deal elsewhere with another strong playoff, or with what he’ll have to settle for in a “hometown discount” deal here.
“Chris has had a tough time, I’m sure, the last few weeks,” Chris Campoli said of his teammate and friend earlier in the day. “The weekend won’t be easy. But he’s a true professional. He’ll come to play. He’s handled it, in my opinion, better than anyone I’ve seen. Classy individual. At the end of the day, he’ll do what’s best for him and his family.”
Said Matt Carkner: “For Chris and his family, there’s a lot of hype out there about what’s going to happen. I’m just hoping it works out best for him. I know where he wants to be, and hopefully something can get done.”
It’d be great for the Senators to have Phillips around as a role model and a teacher on how to be a pro for the young defencemen. If he moves on, he’ll be missed.
Things I think I think
Safe to say the Senators would have been down 1-0 at the 66-second mark had Brian Elliott still been ’tending their goal. Instead, Craig Anderson shut the door on Nikolay Zherdev’s breakaway shot ... Safe to bet that Anderson is going to cost the Senators any shot at finishing last. The question is: How bad do their odds in the lottery suffer because of his stellar netminding? ... Do other GMs realize just how well Filip Kuba has been playing lately? And tough? Didn’t hear it from me, but he’s been an absolute rock back there ... Easy to say the Senators’ power play looked good in going 2-for-3. More accurate to say Nick Foligno looked good on his goal that tied the game a dozen minutes into the second period. Really good ... Heard the “Go Sens Go” chant for the first time in a long time. Either that or what they were really saying was “Go Bing Go.”
Butler’s recipe for success
Maybe the secret is in the sauce. No, we’re not talking about the Big Mac or the Whopper, but Bobby Butler’s game. The streaking sniper admitted he is very superstitious. “Everything I do is the same,” said Butler. “Eat. Take a nap. Come to the rink early. Tape my sticks in the same spot every time.” And what did he have as his pre-game meal while he was scoring five-in-five, before finally being slowed down in Buffalo Friday? “Chicken and rice and salad,” said Butler. “And some ranch sauce.” Everyone is trying to guess exactly what kind of scorer the rookie will become. Will he be good for 15 a season? Twenty? Twenty-five? “My goal is to be a 30-goal scorer,” said Butler. “It’s going to take time, it’s going to take a lot of work.” Butler said a lot will depend on “opportunity.” Is that his name for Jason Spezza?
Visiting with Versteeg
Playing for the Flyers now means Kris Versteeg has a pretty decent shot at winning a second Cup in two years. “We said last year when we were playing them (in the final), this is the team in the East that is exactly like us,” the former Blackhawk said. “Definitely last year was a dream come true, to do it again would be special.”
Playing for the Flyers now also means Versteeg has to resist temptation. “The first thing I had was cheese fries, before I had the Philly cheese steak. Those were good. Then I had the cheese steak right after. I’m a fan now.”
Versteeg had the culinary experience at Geno’s, where the lineups can be a couple hundred long at 4 a.m. I know this. He says he doesn’t. “It was just a little dinner,” he said. Presumably, he has supper when most people do.
Best line of the day from Versteeg came when he was asked about the difference between playing in Chicago, Toronto and Philadelphia. “The amount of cameras you see make a difference. Moreso in Toronto, it goes nationally,” he said. “You take one dumb penalty in Toronto and your parents are hearing about it for the next month.”
On Friday, Versteeg was at the Carleton Ice House to watch buddy Jordan Deagle and the rest of the Carleton Ravens stave off elimination with a gutsy 4-1 win over UQTR.
The low down on Big Country
Matt Carkner has missed some time with a “lower body” injury of late. Saturday morning, Cheapseats got to the root of the problem. Sort of. Almost. Not really.
CS: Is your knee better?
MC: “Yeah. What knee?”
CS: The knee that was sore.
MC: “My knees are fine.”
CS: You had a sore knee. You had a bad knee.
MC: “I didn’t have a bad knee. I had a hip flexor.”
CS: Oh, it was a hip flexor?
MC: “No, it was a calf.”
CS: Was it a calf?
MC: “Yeah, it was a calf muscle.”
CS: Was it?
MC: “I don’t know which one it was. I can neither confirm nor deny.”
CS: I’m fishin’ here.
MC: “I’m gonna go play soccer.”
CS: Good talk.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos learned a Twitter lesson Saturday: Don’t send a direct message unless you’re absolutely sure it’s not going to slip out to the rest of the world. “Those f---ers at TSN try to discredit me all the time. I’m really pissed,” Kipper wrote, although he didn’t use any dashes. He later figured how to delete a tweet.