Cheapseats: Sens take licking after sitting Carkner, Konopka
Pay price for being shorthanded in tough-guy department vs. Leafs
Don Brennan, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senator Matt Carkner (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - Paul MacLean borrowed some Maple Leaf terminology when explaining why he was keeping two of his toughest players in the press box for the last Battle of Ontario this season.
"The games haven't been as truculent as they might have been in the past, to this point," the Senators coach said Saturday morning when asked why Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka were once again being relegated to designated sitter status. "We've had them in the lineup earlier in the year, but the game seems to be more of a skill-based game."
MacLean pointed to the job Chris Neil did handling Montreal's Brad Staubitz the night before to say the Senators were covered in the tough-guy department against the Leafs. But Saturday, Neil was kicked out of the game when he and Mikhail Grabovski (yes, you read that pairing correctly) were the second fight as Nick Foligno handled Luke Schenn. There was still over 26 minutes to play.
Suddenly, the Senators were shorthanded in the tough-guy department.
Suddenly, Daniel Alfredsson was taking needless abuse from Mike Komisarek. Suddenly, guys like Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris were at greater risk of being maimed by goons like Jay Rosehill and Dion Phaneuf. Suddenly, the Leafs were the kings of Scotiabank Place.
Once again, Carkner should have been in the lineup for Matt Gilroy, who has yet to distinguish himself in a Senators jersey. And once again, Konopka should have been playing for Jim O'Brien, who skates and hustles, but really has had no impact on the outcome of games.
If the Senators do wind up playing the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, they will be facing a big, tough team that is strong in the faceoff circles.
To that end, it figures they're going to need Carkner and Konopka, and it would probably be best for both players to get in a little action before Game 1.
STARTS AND STOPS
The game has changed so much over the years, hasn't it? On the ice during the second intermission, a fan wearing a Senators jersey got on bended knee and proposed to a fan in a Leafs jersey. Sparty held up a sign that read: She said yes. The couple embraced and kissed in celebration. Of course, we wish both young women -- Alicia and Christina -- a long and happy life together ... James Reimer is having a tough season? You sure could have fooled Scotiabank Place customers. The Leafs goalie has a 4-0 career record in Ottawa and has given up just one goal in his last two games ... It's unlikely Neil would have bothered with Grabovski had Sergei Gonchar not been forced to fight for just the second time in his 17-year NHL career earlier in the game. Gonchar took a bit of a licking from Clarke MacArthur in the first period, then showed his inexperience in this particular aspect of the game by picking up his gloves before going to the box. Gonchar's last and only other NHL fight was during the 1998-99 season against Guy Carbonneau, who was then a Dallas Star ... The timing of the Gonchar fight wasn't good. It killed a rush by Alfredsson and Turris ... The game wasn't 10 1/2 minutes old and Ben Bishop had already made two big saves off MacArthur, the second with a quick flash of trapper. Understandable that the Leaf winger was getting frustrated enough to fight a Sergei ...
WHO DA THUNK IT?
In holding the Leafs to four shots on goal in the first, the Senators had allowed a total of 10 shots in the last three periods ... Colin GREENing had the same number of shots as the Leafs in the first ... Even on St. Patrick's Day, there was more blue and white than green in Scotiabank Place. Senators colours, of course, were a distant third ... The Senators and Leafs finish the season with a split, 3-3. You've heard it before, but each game for Ottawa was the second of back-to-backers, while Toronto had a rest the night before. "I think that's a factor," said MacLean. "Not a huge factor, but it's curious."
The Senators' best line as they battled to regain first place on St. Patrick's Day was the Rob Klinkhammer-Kyle Turris-Daniel Alfredsson unit -- and who would have guessed they'd be reading those words six months ago? ... Klinkhammer pressed a puck against the post as he searched for his first NHL goal on one of his three good opening-period chances, then set up Alfredsson for a point-blank chance in third minute of the second period. The captain's drought was extended to nine games by James Reimer ... Pat Burns' son Jason was given a standing ovation when introduced on the videoboard in the third.
DID YOU GO HMMM?
Note to Eugene Melnyk: Now that the HD is operating on the videoboard, can you do something about the cottage TVs in the pressbox and the fact that the Internet in your arena has been sketchy for weeks now? ... Note to Gilroy: the backhand passes through the slot in your own end? Not a good idea .... The HD screen makes reading MacLean's lips easier. "How does that work?" he asked an official after penalties were dished out from a melee in the last minute of the second. "You're right, I'm wrong," he said twice upon learning the answer to the first question ... Not sure how Karlsson got away with the third-period slew foot on David Steckel after a whistle calling Steckel for holding. Looked dangerous.