TIM BAINES: The Senators couldn’t get much beyond Christmas without what could be a crippling injury. Should Kris Letang have been punished by the NHL for his hit on Jason Spezza?
BRUCE GARRIOCH: He wasn’t suspended. I guess he shouldn’t have been. I thought Spezza saw Letang, but Spezza was in a vulnerable position. Maybe Letang should have backed off. I know Spezza thought it was dirty. I also know the people who comment on the popular blog Off the Posts feel it was dirty.
DON BRENNAN: I think so. At the very least, he should have received a boarding or hitting-from-behind major. But the refs completely botched it up, surprise, surprise, by calling a roughing penalty on Ryan Shannon, who was guilty only of giving somebody a hug. So Ottawa doesn’t even get a power play while having its top centre knocked out of the game. As Bryan Murray suggested at practice, would somebody only get a minor for knocking Sidney Crosby out of the game? Not a chance.
GARRIOCH: The name on the back usually makes a difference. I don’t know why this surprises anyone, and I have no idea why anyone complains about supplementary discipline. There is no rhyme nor reason. To complain about this is a waste of breath and space.
BAINES: We waste a lot of breath and space. Is it not worth discussing what the Sens are going to do without Spezza? For the most part, they sure weren’t playing that well with him. Now they have to make do without their most dynamic forward, albeit a guy who has underachieved for much of the time this season. Somehow, they have to stay within shouting distance of a playoff position without him.
GARRIOCH: I’m suggesting you will drive yourself nuts complaining about it because it rarely makes sense. I just accept it now. As for losing Spezza, I’d like to see Peter Regin step up or show up or do something. I’m assuming he’s going to get more ice time.
BAINES: But obviously the people in the NHL offices who sit and watch these things over and over didn’t think it was dirty. Sometimes it’s a fine line. Just unfortunate for the Senators that it wasn’t a foot soldier. It was the one guy up front they probably couldn’t afford to lose for an extended period of time.
BRENNAN: I don’t know. Just like I don’t know why the Senators don’t respond by taking a run at Crosby. Just like I don’t get why Letang didn’t have his lights punched out at some point afterward. Would a Penguin have jumped Chris Campoli at some point had he knocked Crosby out? I also find it funny that Crosby yells at the refs after he gets called for hauling down Chris Phillips. Maybe it wasn’t a good call. Maybe Phillips fell more than he was pulled down. But Crosby is protected by officials and the league and he should probably skip the whining.
BAINES: I remember Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux doing the same kind of thing. Maybe being one of the NHL’s royalty gives you some kind of preferential treatment. But the bottom line is — a penalty is a penalty. Protecting your own can come with a cost, usually a penalty. I still like to think it’s a good penalty to take.
GARRIOCH: Don, you have been complaining about nobody standing up for years. Some things never change and won’t.
BRENNAN: I agree with you about it being a good penalty to take. Instead of asking Letang to go, Neil should have dropped his gloves and busted the guy’s face. Yeah, he’d get penalized for it. But you don’t think the next time a guy was going to hit a Senators star from behind into the boards, he’d think twice?
BAINES: Sure, dispense with the fighting etiquette. No need to ask the guy politely. Don’t even drop the gloves. Deck him with one punch. Fight over. Message sent.
GARRIOCH: Can either of you tell me the last time you saw this happen?
BAINES: I’m just guessing, but Sean Avery doesn’t seem like a guy who follows the NHL pugilist’s code of etiquette.
BAINES: To suggest Regin can pick up Spezza’s offensive pizzazz may be wishful thinking, though. The Spezza injury will take them into the trade deadline, won’t it? It’ll be interesting to see which direction they take then, whether they can still suck it up and admit defeat even if they are well out of playoff range.
BAINES: I’m not suggesting the Not So Great Dane replaces Spezza’s offence, but perhaps he could score more than one goal in the next 35 games.
BRENNAN: You guys sure like to dump on Regin. Especially you, Bruce. Hey, he deserves it. But why is it that his lack of production bothers you more than the play of Sergei Gonchar? Regin isn’t supposed to be a star player. He is supposed to be a contributor, and he hasn’t been. He’s supposed to be a 15-20 goal scorer. Gonchar is supposed to be a key guy. He gets $5.5 million and he’s been terrible. That’s a bigger problem than Regin. By far.
GARRIOCH: That’s not true, Don. We usually dump on Kovy. If Regin is supposed to score 15-20, he better hurry. As for Gonchar, we’ve been there and we all agree.
BAINES: Erik Karlsson has really stepped it up. He’s gone from being the benched whipping boy to what the Senators expected out of him. But while he’s one of the game’s top young offensive defencemen, the young forwards have yet to step it up a notch. Regin and others need to start showing some of that promise.
BRENNAN: Only an idiot can’t see that Karlsson is going to be good. He’s already the best defenceman on the team.
BAINES: We weren’t as complimentary early in the season when he was having a tough time. Was it a confidence issue?
GARRIOCH: He just struggled and I don’t think it’s any coincidence he is playing better with Chris Phillips as a partner.
BRENNAN: What about the Spengler Cup? Why is this on my TV? How does Dominik Hasek, who I always thought was a Czech, get to play for the Russians? He’s 45 and embarrassing himself ... When is he going to hang them up? Maybe Friday?