OTTAWA - Mika Zibanejad will be missed.
Particularly by his pal, David Rundblad.
The two Swedes were inseparable before the Senators decided Zibanejad would be better off with another season in the Elite League back home before embarking on what should be a long and fruitful NHL career.
“We shared a (hotel) room for 1½ months,” Rundblad said of time that was mostly spent on PlayStation. “Yeah, I will (miss him) a little bit. But all the guys on the team are really nice, so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
Except when Rundblad’s driving around town, perhaps. He was a chauffeur for the 18-year-old, licence-less Zibanejad, who Rundblad says was at least a good navigator.
Rundblad, whose huge play at the Florida blue line led to Nick Foligno’s winning goal, doesn’t need a Georges St. Pierre as a friend now as much as he could use a GPS.
Recently turned 21 and once a candidate for Binghamton, Rundblad isn’t going anywhere fast.
"David has worked on his defensive game and hes been a real good player for us." coach Paul MacLean said. “If he continues to improve and play the way he’s playing, there’s really no reason to make any change to his status.”
That also means the Senators, who already have a capable Brian Lee as a spare blueliner, are going to be anxious to make a trade as soon as Matt Carkner returns from injury.
The way Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar have performed of late has surely caught the attention of other teams.
STARTS AND STOPS
Stephane Da Costa, the other Senator who has yet to get his licence, had two of his best shifts in an Ottawa uniform just before he took a tripping penalty on a call that might have been overlooked had he not gotten away with a hook seconds earlier. Da Costa scored his second goal of the season, and the team’s second goal of the game, just seconds after he stepped out of the box. With Zibanejad gone and Peter Regin out for two months, Da Costa will get every chance to be the team’s second-line centre. And the Plan B in MacLean’s mind? “It’s gotta be back there somewhere,” smiled MacLean. If need be, could it include Foligno, who played centre in junior? MacLean said that option has only been briefly discussed. “So I’m telling you there’s a chance,” MacLean said, knowingly quoting Dumb and Dumber’s Lloyd Christmas ... To say Jacob Markstrom “stands tall” in the Panthers net is an understatement. At 6-foot-6, he wears 40-inch pads while working the 48-inch high cage. The crossbar is at his hips.
STUFF I THINK I THUNK
The Senators had Raghav’s Fire blaring in their Carolina dressing room after win No. 3 in a row. They’re even hotter now ... Little-known fact about play-by-play man Dean Brown: On game days, he likes to move like Jagger, he likes to move like Jagger. Or is that Jagr? ... Jesse Winchester will divulge the recipe for his secret protein shake in Cheapseats just as soon as he gets approval from his silent partner in the Senators room. For now, all he’s saying is: “Do you tell people where to fish, or just which lake?” Think about it. For a while.
What do Joe DiMaggio, Wayne Gretzky and Jason York have in common? They all hold records that will never be touched. The Yankee Clipper’s 56-game hit streak, The Great One’s 92 goals in a season, and The Healthiest Scratch’s 12 shots on goal in one game, most ever by a Senator. “Shooters like me only come around once in a generation,” Yorkie said when asked about his feat on Jan 30, 1999 in a 9-2 win over the Islanders. “Guys that get 12 shots and don’t get a goal.” ... York is going for an overdue knee scope Friday. “I’m still bitter at Matt Carkner,” he joked, talking about the Senators defenceman rehabbing from a similar operation. “He took my spot in the rotation.” York says he will not miss the radio show he hosts with the lovely and talented Steve Lloyd on Team 1200 that afternoon. “One thing about me, I play hurt,” he said, partly referring to the one month he played for the Senators with a broken leg that was originally misdiagnosed. “Always have, always will. It’s been my downfall.”
NOW GOING HMMM ...
As Craig Anderson allows a first-period goal by Jason Garrison he should have stopped, we are reminded that St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott has a 4-0 record with a 1.59 GAA and .950 save percentage ... On Rundbad’s blog is a photo of him, Zibanejad and Erik Karlsson going to a Halloween party in KISS garb. Rundblad was asked if he’s a big fan of the old rockers. “Not really,” he said. “It was Erik and his girlfriend. They told me and Mika what to do.” ... Florida veterans took a beating. Hit of the night was Chris Neil on Ed Jovanovski just inside the Florida line. A couple of Panthers were anxiously sought retribution — just as soon as two linesmen and a ref arrived on the scene ... Jared Cowen stepped into Marco Sturm pretty good too ... First two Senators goals were scored with a ref’s arm in the air on a delayed penalty call.
Ottawa-bred defenceman Erik Gudbranson found out the Panthers were not going to return him to the Kingston Frontenacs from coach Kevin Dineen after Thursday’s morning skate at SBP. “All I heard was 'get a place, Goody get a place'," Gudbranson said. “I was standing at the back then I got facewashed by everyone. It was exciting. It was nice with the boys there. No disrespect to you (media) guys, but to have it just with the team there, after practice, it was awesome.” ... Dineen, who played his 1,000th NHL game as a Senator, says the team treated him and his family like gold. “I think as much as it is the time here it’s the people we met,” he said, giving special mention to Mike Fisher. “I think he’s my wife’s all-time favourite person and my kids still follow of him. We think the world of him.” ... Dineen was impressed with Zenon Konopka when he coached him in the minors. “He was a guy that scratched and clawed his way out of the East Coast League to get to the American League, and the beauty of Zenon is he’s always found a niche, whatever it is to expose, to try to get as much as he can out of his career,” said Dineen. “He has squeezed all of his talent and his abilities to continue to be a full time NHL player.”