OTTAWA - Nobody would feel worse than Zenon Konopka for being in the penalty box when the Devils scored the lone goal of Tuesday’s game at Scotiabank Place.
It was Konopka’s first action after watching the last five games and 13 of the last 17 as a healthy scratch. A frustrating time, for sure. Equally as frustrating had to be serving a kneeing penalty when Ilya Kovalchuk scored. Nobody wants to play more and nobody wants to win more than Konopka.
But the word frustration would also sum up the feelings of most players and fans in the building. In the first 56 minutes, the Senators had been awarded just one power play despite some flagrant fouls that included a third-period tackle of Daniel Alfredsson and the chopping in half of Erik Karlsson’s stick.
Finally, the crowd started with the “refs, you suck” chants. And suddenly, David Clarkson was called for slashing Jared Cowen’s stick out of his hands and, shortly thereafter, the Devils were called for too many men on the ice.
Perhaps the chanting should have started earlier.
That said, the Senators sure didn’t look much like a playoff team in the loss. They didn’t have nearly enough of the necessary determination.
STARTS AND STOPS
The biggest media scrum at the Devils morning skate was not around Martin Brodeur for a change, although the great goalie did still draw a pretty big crowd even though he would be that night’s backup. No, attracting the most reporters was Cam Janssen, the New Jersey tough guy who didn’t suit up against the Senators, but was a key participant in the 3-on-3 fight off the opening draw in Monday’s game with the Rangers. “This was not planned,” Janssen said of the pier-sixer. “Let’s get that straight. We didn’t text message or Facebook or anything like that. This was just spur of the moment, ‘Hey, ya, wanna do it?’ I didn’t know my left winger was going to ask, too. We had no idea. It was just more of a coincidence that happened three times in a row.” And if you buy that, Janssen has some swampland in Jersey he’d like to sell you ... Erik Condra needs to go to his backhand and then high on Johan Hedberg’s stick side when he has that first-period penalty shot. Shooting five-hole always looks bad when it fails, and Condra (one goal in last his 33 games) hasn’t exactly been on the mark of late ... The Cheapseats Three Stars At The Midway Point were Ben Bishop, Hedberg and Zach Parise ... The Worst Goal Celebration of the Season Award goes to Kovalchuk, who doesn’t raise his hands or crack a smile after ripping in the 400th of his career and lone goal of the game. Come to think of it, his reaction was about as exciting as the game.
WHO’D A THUNK IT?
The Devils entered the game with a 9-4 record in the second half of back-to-backers. For the most part, playing on consecutive nights is not a big deal. “I tell ya, it’s not the minors,” Konopka said after the morning skate. “You’re not riding the bus and sleeping at a Holiday Inn. You’re taken care of pretty good in your private jet. Don’t give too much sympathy to the guys in this league.” ... Patrik Elias had words for Nick Foligno after Foligno held on to the puck and steered it toward the empty net after the second-period buzzer sounded. Clearly, Elias does not know that Foligno has become a pretty decent fighter. And that Senators have no problem punching out skilled Europeans ... Tied for most shots on goal by a Senator after two periods were Karlsson and Chris “Oil Changers” Neil, both of whom had four. Neil also wore the assistant captain’s ‘A’ with Jason Spezza out of the lineup ... Karlsson has to lead the Senators in broken sticks this season. And it never happens at a good time ... Few would agree with Dean Morton’s “boarding” call on Zack Smith in the third period.
If Karlsson doesn’t play defence well enough to deserve the Norris Trophy, how about Filip Kuba? Entering the game, he was tied with Nicklas Lidstrom and Zdeno Chara for the best plus-minus (plus-25) of all NHL blueliners, and you know those two guys will get a lot of votes ... While we’re at it, Sergei “The Glider” Gonchar deserves Norris votes, too ... Early in the second I told Bruce Garrioch we should call Bobby Orr and sing Happy Birthday to him on his 64th. We didn’t, so Bobby, take this as that wish ... You forget Anton “A-Train” Volchenkov is a Devil until he’s the guy guilty of tripping Condra on the penalty-shot call. This return to Ottawa would bring none of his patented hits or blocked shots.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMM ...
I brought Jason York a Diet Coke at the exact time he was on the videoboard Wiser commercial. He still holds the Senators’ record for most shots (12) in one game. That’s shots on goal, not Wisers ... Best Ottawa chance in the third period came with Kyle Turris in the box serving Bishop’s delay of game penalty. Jared Cowen joined the shorthanded rush with Milan Michalek and Alfredsson, whose slap shot was stopped. Michalek’s tried to get the rebound to Cowen, but failed ... Best penalty killing shift of the game was had by Rob Klinkhammer, who brought the puck deep into Devils territory, maintained it in a boards battle, then fired it back Ottawa’s way to a defenceman.