March 8, 2012
Greening has plenty of fight
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - The left cheek is swollen, the left eye black and blue.
Colin Greening looks a little like he’s been run over by a truck. Headfirst.
So, how’s the face feeling, Greening?
“It’s fine,” the Senators rookie winger says without missing a beat. “How’s yours?”
Greening was involved in his third NHL scrap Tuesday in Tampa, going toe-to-toe with defenceman Keith Aulie in a battle of two big boys.
Aulie, who stands three inches taller than Greening, was objecting to a questionable check. And Greening didn’t blame him.
“I looked at the hit, and it looked a little dirty, I’m not going to lie to you,” said Greening, who completed his first career Gordie Howe hat trick by also scoring a goal and an assist. “I can see why he was mad. It’s just one of those things that happens in the game. I just wanted to stand up for myself.”
As a 6-foot-3, 211-pounder, Greening could stand to get a little more aggressive. Coach Paul MacLean didn’t mind one bit seeing him drop his gloves, especially given the circumstances.
“For me, it was just two guys who didn’t get along real well,” said MacLean. “That’s how they settle it in hockey. I thought it was fine. I was glad I wasn’t in it. The best part for me was just watching.”
Greening joked about coming out on the short end.
“Face has got a little ice on it, hand is a little banged up,” he said. “That’s what happens when you punch his visor, I guess. Overall, I’m fine.”
Greening was one of 12 Senators who signed up for more on-ice lessons when the team brought its fight coach to practice a couple of weeks ago.
“I think because of my size, and the way I play, it’s bound to happen,” he said of fighting. “I haven’t fought too many times this year, but it does happen, but I guess that’s why we try to prepare as much as we can.”
Reunited with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek on the team’s first line, Greening busted out of a 14-game slump when he gave the Senators a 2-0 lead near the 18th minute of the first period. Yes, that was a big, old monkey climbing off his back as he celebrated the event with teammates a second later.
“Especially after the stint I was having, it was really nice,” he said. “It was a little frustrating, but I showed the confidence the coach had to put me back with Spezza and Michalek ... it was nice to put that goal finally in.”
So, MacLean’s message was sent and received?
“I think when you play less minutes like I have been lately, you kind of reflect on it,” Greening said of the slump. “It’s pretty much getting back to basics, and you kind of focus on what makes you strong as a player. In an 82-game schedule, I think you can lose sight of that sometimes. I think that was just one of the things I reiterated to myself. Just play the way I was in the beginning of the year. I guess it kind of worked.”
BISHOP TO-KNIGHT 2
The St. Louis guy wearing the St. Louis gear will be making his Ottawa debut Thursday night against a team of Blue shirts. Yes, Ben Bishop was reminded more than once the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers — you know, Marion Gaborik and Brad Richards and the boys — were going to be the opponents for his first home game as a Senator. Bishop, a 25-year-old who now has 11 NHL games under his belt, noticed that the media contingent visiting with him in the Ottawa home room after Wednesday’s practice was a “little different” than he was used to seeing. He meant in size, or better the number of actual bodies, more than different-odd. Also, he needs to get used to the names on the backs of the jerseys over his new teammates shoulders. “You don’t really know any of the guys, so you’ve got to learn the guys names, the staff ... it’s a little different,” he said. “It takes a little bit of time but the guys are really easy. It’s not hard.” As for the pressure he faces, Bishop said: “It’s your job. You’ve just got to go out and play hockey. I think you might get a little bit of nerves, but once the puck drops all that goes away and it just goes back to natural ability, playing goalie. I think you take it one day at a time.” The most pressure Bishop ever faced before becoming a Senator, he said, was being a hometown guy in St. Louis playing his first game for the Blues. But he also claims to know what he’s getting into in Ottawa. “Any Canadian city is a big hockey market,” Bishop said. “I’m excited to be here.”
D Chris Phillips practised Wednesday with a shield covering his freshly broken nose and he’s expected to play against the Rangers ... Spezza and D Erik Karlsson skipped Wednesday’s practice for “maintenance” purposes, but both will play against the Rangers.