March 25, 2012
Cheapseats: Melnyk tips hat to Sens
By Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
Eugene Melnyk wore a hat emblazoned with the word “Relax” Saturday morning at Scotiabank Place.
The Senators owner remains bullish on his club’s chances of making the playoffs this spring, and Saturday night it looked like Melnyk’s optimism is still well-founded.
“I wore this hat for a reason,” said Melnyk, pointing to his cap before the Senators knocked off Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-4. “In all seriousness, I don’t think there is any reason to panic. We’ve been a streaky team ever since the beginning of the season.
“Now, we’re pretty much down to a seven-game series. It’s the first round of the playoffs. We’ve got to win four. We probably could sneak in with three.”
The Senators got a scare midway through the second period when Big Ben Bishop went down in the crease to make a save and needed help getting up. He left with a lower-body injury, forcing Craig Anderson to take over. No matter how long Bishop is out, the ball is most certainly Anderson’s to carry from now on.
Melnyk is confident his team will be in the hunt when the playoffs begin.
“We’re in it until we’re not in it anymore,” said Melnyk. “I’m very, very satisfied. We’ve accomplished much more than we thought we would. All in all, I’m very pleased with where we are at, but it’s certainly far from over. We know we have to win a few games. It’s in our hands.”
Melnyk even got in a backhanded shot at the Leafs.
“We never expected to make the playoffs and here we are a contender. We are ahead of schedule. We are ahead of the plan. Sure, it’s great to dream about getting into the playoffs in the first year of a rebuild,” said Melnyk.
“I know a few other teams that have been rebuilding for five or six years and they haven’t even come close to the playoffs. You know who they are. In our case, we’re going to be just fine. It’s a three-year plan.”
THIS ’N’ THAT
Daniel Alfredsson thought his goal Friday in Montreal shouldn’t have been called back because of a high stick. “I thought it was a goal for sure. I was surprised the ref waved it off right away,” said the captain. No worries for Alfie, though. He broke his 12-game scoring slump with his 23rd of the season in the second against the Penguins ... Melnyk is on the verge of closing a deal to sell the OHL’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. Sources say the price will be between $7.5 million and $8.5 million. Elliott Kerr, president of the Mississauga-based Landmark Sports Group, is believed to be the frontrunner to buy the club.
AROUND THE BOARDS
Melnyk is patiently waiting for his date with an arbitrator to hear his case to get his $4-million bonus back from former Ottawa winger Dany Heatley. He said Saturday the case could be heard in early July. Melnyk wants the cash back because Heatley blocked a potential deal to the Edmonton Oilers ... Senators LW Nick Foligno is a good politician. He was asked to comment on a Nov. 25 incident when Crosby elbowed him in the back of the head. It resulted in a verbal sparring match between the two, but Foligno wasn’t going to fan the flames on Saturday. “I haven’t given it any second thought,” said Foligno.
MAKES YOU GO HMMM ...
The players were able to have a good laugh during the national anthems. They had to be the longest in history, and the TV cameras caught smiles on both benches ... Colin Greening delivered a huge hit in his 100th NHL game. Unfortunately, it was on Bishop, but to be fair, Greening was nudged by Jordan Staal ... Solid work by Foligno, who played with Alfredsson and Kyle Turris, behind the net to set up D Sergei Gonchar for his third of the season. It was a great night for Turris, Alfredsson and Foligno. All three were dominant, combining for three goals and nine points ... Brilliant acting job by Bishop to draw an interference call on Matt Cooke in the second. Pretty sure the officials weren’t amused.
OFF THE GLASS
D Matt Carkner played for the first time since Feb. 25. After sitting out 12 straight games, Carkner was in for the struggling Matt Gilroy. “We want him to come in and be Matt Carkner, and not try to do anything special,” said coach Paul MacLean. “We want to make sure we get him in some games and we want to use the depth of our team with the way our schedule is this weekend.” LW Kaspars Daugavins was swapped for C Zenon Konopka ... Bishop has to make the save on Cooke on Pittsburgh’s opening goal. Pittsburgh’s second goal was the result of a great pass by Sid The Kid. Cooke has seven goals in six games playing with Crosby. Unreal, but not enough for the Penguins Saturday night.