OTTAWA - Darren Pang set off quite the storm Monday night.
The St. Louis broadcaster, an Ottawa native and former 67’s goalie, set off a heated debate in the twittersphere when he said he’d take Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo over the Senators’ Erik Karlsson if given the choice.
Answering an inquiry, Pang tweeted during the Sens-Jets game: “Just watching Karlsson on PP for Ottawa and backchecking not his strength, eh? You have choice, he or Pietrangelo? Petro no doubt IMO (in my opinion).”
That comment went viral and Pang wasn’t getting a lot in the way of support as Ottawa fans came to the defence of Karlsson, who is the favourite to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman this season.
Karlsson leads all defencemen in scoring with 76 points, while Pietrangelo has played big minutes, but had only 48 points going into Tuesday’s visit by Nashville.
“It was a question: Pietrangelo or Karlsson. That’s the passion of Twitter and the frustrating thing about Twitter as well,” Pang said Tuesday from St. Louis.
“People don’t actually read it all, I don’t think ,but they have a response (because) that’s their guy on their team and I think that’s what makes it a lot of fun. It was interesting. It was quite a response. It was overwhelming, to be honest.”
Don’t get Pang wrong, he respects what Karlsson has accomplished with the Senators. He was asked to make the comparison because Karlsson and Pietrangelo are the same age and were drafted in the same year.
While Pietrangelo trails Karlsson in the blue-line scoring race, Pang chose Pietrangelo because he believes he plays better at both ends of the ice and that Karlsson is more of risk/reward player.
“I love Karlsson with the puck and that’s what I said,” Pang said. “When GMs talk about Karlsson vs. Pietrangelo, the No. 1 (question) is: Who is better with the puck? Well, it’s Karlsson, no question.
“The No. 2 question is: Who is better 5-on-5, defending going up against the other team’s best players and playing on the power play? The answer is Pietrangelo. There is no denying the hand-eye co-ordination and the instincts of Karlsson. They’re phenomenal and fun to watch.
“In a playoff series, Pietrangelo is going to play 25 minutes, he’s going to play on the (penalty-killing units), the power play and against the other teams best players. So, there’s quite a difference in the two players and what they bring to the table. They’re both having phenomenal years.”
Pang said he believes Karlsson will be getting hardware in June. He finished with three assists, was plus-5 and had more than 25 minutes in ice time vs. the Jets.
“I would think both of them are going to be there as finalists for the Norris Trophy and I would think Karlsson is going to win that award,” said Pang.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson scored twice in the third period of the club’s 6-4 win over the Jets and now has 26 goals this season with five games left. That’s the most goal he’s scored since 2007-08, when he had 40.
Alfredsson said he’s surprised by the success, especially after he broke a 12-game scoring slump Saturday against the Penguins with a two-goal effort.
“I wouldn’t have (guessed that at the start of the season),” said Alfredsson. “As of four days ago, I was stuck at 22 for quite some time. Sometimes you get a bit of confidence and you’re at the right spot and you don’t force things.”
Alfredsson is feeling good, but said the team’s four-day break in the schedule comes at the right time.
“I didn’t feel like I had the legs (in Winnipeg) like I had (Saturday) night. That might have something to do with the travel. This break is going to help me,” said Alfredsson.
The league can expect a call from GM Bryan Murray about the goal Winnipeg’s Evander Kane scored in the third period on Monday. The Senators weren’t happy because they felt Kane interfered with G Craig Anderson. It won’t do any good, but Murray will probably notify the NHL. “I thought (Anderson) got steamrolled on the last one,” said coach Paul MacLean.