Call on Konopka stupid

Rangers defenceman Michael Sauer scraps with Senators forward Zenon Konopka at Madison Square...

Rangers defenceman Michael Sauer scraps with Senators forward Zenon Konopka at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., Oct. 29, 2011. (JESSICA RINALDI/Reuters)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:58 AM ET

NEW YORK - Surely, this isn’t what the NHL had in mind when it comes to the current crackdown on illegal hits.

Senators centre Zenon Konopka, who has a reputation for being a troublemaker during his career, was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct Saturday for what was barely a hit on New York’s Artem Anisimov.

The Madison Square Garden cheered loudly after the hit and Anisimov needed help getting up, but there was no way the punishment didn’t fit the crime. As a matter of fact, it may not even have been worthy of a minor penalty. Anisimov was back on the ice two shifts later.

A longtime New York-area hockey writer leaned over in the press box and wondered aloud if that would have even been called 10 years ago. No, it wouldn’t have.

Referees Dennis Larue and Brad Watson should be forced to explain to VP of player safety Brendan Shanahan why they made the call that resulted in two goals for the Rangers during their five-minute man-advantage.

Surely there won’t be any supplemental discipline from Shanahan for this incident. Konopka got that penalty because of the name on his back.

Konopka said he was stunned by the call.

“I know I’ve led the league in penalty minutes but I’ve never had a problem with an illegal hit,” said Konopka. “It’s not a good feeling to come in here and have them score two power-play goals. It’s great that my teammates picked me up.

“Call it whatever it is. I don’t know. It’s not for me to decide. It was definitely a crushing blow to me. It’s something I don’t agree with.”

READY FOR BATTLE

Sunday night’s Battle of Ontario will be the only this season in which the Senators are going to have a chance for a fair fight. When the NHL schedule came out in the summer, centre Jason Spezza circled the dates on the calendar for the games against his hometown Maple Leafs because he always likes the chance to get together with his family. But Spezza was surprised after taking a second look when he noticed all six of the games against the club’s archrival are on the back end of back-to-back games and Sunday’s visit by the Leafs is the only one where both teams are in action the previous day. That means the Leafs are going to be rested and ready — just as they were when the two teams met Oct. 8 at the Air Canada Centre — every time the Senators face them the rest of the season. Saturday, the Leafs hosted the Penguins at home. “It’s probably something quirky that happened in the schedule, but I know it doesn’t look like it,” said Spezza. “I’m sure it’s not done on purpose, or you hope it isn’t done purposely, but I think it was just the way the schedule was made. It’s tough.”

THE MORNING SKATE

The Senators are working on getting a new scoreboard at Scotiabank Place, especially since they’ve experienced issues with the old one at lately. Sources say the Senators hope to get a new one in place for the all-star weekend in January, but there are “no guarantees” it will be done in time. The club has a long break in the schedule next month and it would take about a week to install ... The new MSG — in the midst of a $900-million renovation — is confusing to get around. The building had 1,200-1,800 workers doing 24-hour shifts all summer to complete the first of three phases ... That Filip Kuba looked like a scoring machine until a goal was credited to Chris Neil in the first period. The puck deflected off Neil’s skate in and beat Henrik Lundqvist. The scoring change cost rookie Kaspars Daugavins his first NHL point.

OFF THE GLASS

Senators G Alex Auld suffered a injury in practice and that’s why G Robin Lehner was brought to New York to dress as the backup. He accompanied the team back to Ottawa on Saturday. Auld is day-to-day. Lehner is 4-2-0 in Binghamton and has been pleased with his play. “It’s all been good. It’s a different team and we have to play a different game. It’s a little more defensive and we have to capitalize on our scoring chances. We’ve gotten some wins. We’re over .500 so that’s good,” said Lehner ... The Baby Sens will be without C Corey Locke, who is out for a month with a broken thumb.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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