March 2, 2012
Opposing goalies on Sens payroll, but Lehner could sue for support
By Don Brennan, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - No wonder Eugene Melnyk was at Scotiabank for the Senators-Blackhawks game. It's not every day an NHL owner can watch two goalies he's paying play at the very same time.
At least this is the last season the Senators have to hand over $562,000 to Ray Emery from his contract buyout in 2008. And on the bright side, it's only half as much as the $1.167 million they're still paying Jonathan Cheechoo (he's been gone so long I had to look up the spelling) until the end of this season.
Emery barely had to work for his money through the initial 40 minutes of his first trip back to Ottawa wearing an enemy uniform. Meanwhile, lawyers in attendance were no doubt thinking Robin Lehner would have a strong case if he wanted to sue the Senators for lack of support.
When Patrick Sharp finally scored on Chicago's 22nd shot of the game, it ended Lehner's shutout string at 95 minutes and 20 seconds. It didn't dampen the 20-year-old's spirit, however. The last time a goalie made as many spectacular saves in one game as Lehner made against the Blackhawks, we don't remember.
Meanwhile, it's hard to believe the Senators and Blackhawks entered this game with similar records. Through the first two periods -- and that turned out to be more than enough -- it looked like boys versus men.
"I thought (Patrick) Kane and (Marian) Hossa had their own puck and they wouldn't even let us play with it for a while," said coach Paul MacLean.
Through the first two periods -- and that turned out to be more than enough -- you wouldn't have blamed Melnyk if he had stopped paying attention altogether.
STARTS AND STOPS
Erik Condra was still on the receiving end of some playful jabs for his miss of a very, very wide open net from close range Tuesday in Boston. He was happy to see, however, that he also missed out on getting nominated for TSN's Misplay of the Day. It went to Toronto's Luke Schenn, who fanned on a pass that led to a Florida goal 13 seconds into their game. "Schenn bailed me out that day," said Condra ... Still say it was a bad call by TSN. Guys fan on passes all the time. Have you ever seen anyone miss with that kind of a chance before? ... Anyway, Condra's bad luck is spreading. Late in the second Friday, he took a shot that Emery partially blocked, sending the puck fluttering in the air. Zenon Konopka tried to bunt it in as he was being tackled, but he wound up knocking it the opposite direction from the open net ... In the third, Matt Gilroy had a wide-open net waiting for his first goal as a Senator, but he fired it high ... Gilroy had two earlier chances, too. Think he'll get a couple before the season is over.
STUFF I THINK I THUNK
Emery wasn't sure what kind of a reception would greet him for his first game back at The Bank. "They say getting booed on the road is like getting cheered at home," he said after the morning skate. "We'll see how it goes." Typically, Ottawans mostly sat on the fence, and their hands ... The Hossa-Andrew Brunette-Kane line completely dominated the Colin Greening-Kyle Turris-Daniel Alfredsson unit through most of the first two periods, but for some reason MacLean stuck with the matchup ... Senators had another slow start. They didn't get a shot on Emery until the 2:42 mark, when Bobby Butler through a wrister off his blocker ... Erik Karlsson slammed his stick against the boards very hard at the final buzzer. There would have been no need had he and his teammates showed half as much passion through the first two periods ... Biggest cheer of the opening 40 minutes went to the scoreboard, when it flashed the news that the Leafs had fired Ron Wilson. People can be so cold, eh?
The Team 1200's John Rodenburg will be happy to know that Emery agrees with his assertation that Ottawa is a "Goalie Graveyard." Sort of. "I think it's very tough to play in Ottawa, for a goalie," said Emery. "I think it can work both ways. If you do well, they'll embrace you. Maybe more so than in another market. And if you have just a small tough stretch it's going to be amplified a lot more. I think it goes both ways. You'll get a lot more attention and they'll like you a lot more for good play, and the opposite is true. It becomes tough, especially for a goalie." ... Condra no longer has the same plans to become a doctor he had when he first headed to Notre Dame seven years ago. "It's on the backburners right now," he said. "When you take a few years off and you don't study, you lose a lot of what you've learned. It's always in the back of my mind, if anything happens. Hopefully I'll have a long career and maybe not have to worry about it."
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMM..
By the third period, Lehner had Kane throwing his stick up in the air and Hossa staring at the ceiling. And when Andrew Shaw skated in on a clear cut breakaway, he tried so many moves that he wound up losing the puck into the corner. Clearly, he was intimidated by Lehn-sanity.