October 19, 2011
Cheapseats: Out with the Auld!Starting backup a bad idea ... Paying tribute to Earl McRae a good idea ... Spezza might need Swedish lessons
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - The backup plan backfired.
Starting Alex Auld in goal proved to be a bad idea for the Senators in Tuesday’s game against the Flyers. Auld stopped just 6-of-10 shots before being replaced by the team’s No. 1 goalie, Craig Anderson, to start the second period.
The Senators were horrible in the first period, but Auld should have stopped the first and third Flyers goals. Might have been a different game had he done so.
Meanwhile, couldn’t help but think of Auld’s refusal to speak with media after Tuesday’s morning skate. Others in his profession don’t talk on game days, but it’s a dying breed. Most, such as Martin Brodeur and Tim Thomas, are more than happy to chat to reporters a few hours before they play. So is Anderson. And Robin Lehner, for that matter.
Maybe Auld should lighten up and change his routine. Maybe he was over-focused, which is nicer than saying he was just brutal.
STARTS AND STOPS
Good of the Senators to pay tribute to the late, great Earl McRae at the end of the first TV timeout ... Jason Spezza might have to learn some Swedish for when he is again in the situation he was during a 4-on-3 power play with Mika Zibanejad, Erik Karlsson and David Rundblad. It turned into a two-man advantage when a fourth Swede, Daniel Alfredsson, stepped out of the box ... Zibanejad’s parents — Mehrdad and Ritva — are in town for this week’s home games. On Sunday, Mika took them down to the market for dinner. No one asked him for an autograph. “I guess I haven’t played that good yet,” the Senators rookie said with a laugh. Two more family members will be here in time for Thursday’s game at Scotiabank Place. “They’re not expecting that much,” the 18-year-old said of his folks. “It’s relaxing, a little bit of a confidence boost to have them here. Don’t have to worry about what I’m saying or anything, they just support you. I’m really happy they came right now.” Zibanejad, meanwhile, looked more at home back at centre against the Flyers. He played his best game to date.
STUFF I THINK I THUNK
The people questioning and skeptical about Anderson’s “personal reasons” for missing practice Monday should probably just shut up. They were legit ... Stephane Da Costa’s stock is slipping. He was relegated to fourth-line duty and played just four shifts in the first ... Jared Cowen drilled Maxime Talbot so hard, he separated him from his glove ... Erik Condra found out exactly how sturdy the short Kimmo Timonen is during another stiff first-period hit.
’Twas’ only fitting that, with the Broad Street Bullies visiting, the Senators invited two of the toughest players in franchise history to the game. Denny Lambert wasn’t a big guy, but he used to fight everybody. Both as a Senator, and when he played for Bryan Murray — on a line with Kevin Sawyer and Dan Bylsma — as a member of the Ducks. After eight seasons coaching the Soo Greyhounds, Lambert now wants a career as a fireman or policeman in Sault St. Marie. Dennis Vial is from the Soo, but now lives just outside Halifax. He was the Senators all-time PIMs king before Chris Neil bumped him. In eight NHL seasons, Vial had 86 fights, including 30 for the 1995-96 Senators. “I played it, I enjoyed it, I’m never going to go back on it and say if something ever happens to me in the future, I blame it on hockey,” Vial said of the enforcer role. “I don’t think it’s stressful. I just don’t think it’s as much fun as scoring goals.” Vial remembers having more “anxiety” than stress as the team’s policeman. He recalls being on edge as the team bus drove to the HSBC Arena for a game against Rob Ray and the Sabres. “I just couldn’t stand those guys,” said Vial. “There I am, on the bus, and I’m reading the paper, and Lance Pitlick comes up to me and just smacks the paper out of my hands. I just freakin’ lost it on him. I wanted to kill him. I grabbed him by the shirt, I cocked back and I said, ‘If you ever do that again, I’m gonna tear your lungs out.’ I was so worked up because the whole time I was thinking about that Rob Ray. Lance was just jokin’ around. He’s like, ‘Geez man, relax. Take it easy.’ I’m like, ‘No, don’t tell me to relax.’ ”
A year ago, Danny Briere took Claude Giroux into his home, much the same way Mario Lemieux opened his doors to Sidney Crosby and Alfredsson made a younger Karlsson a member of his family. This weekend, 18-year-old Flyers rookie Sean Couturier is moving into Briere’s house, which tells you the kid is not being returned to his junior team. Giroux, meanwhile, has some advice for Couturier. “He’s a terrible cook,” he said with a chuckle of Briere’s off-ice shortcomings. “Actually, he didn’t cook once. Made grilled cheese here and there, but that’s pretty much it.” Giroux admitted it is “fun” at Briere’s house. “ He’s got three kids and two dogs, so you don’t get bored,” he said.