NHL should hit Pronger with suspension

DON BRENNAN

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

No ifs, ands or buts about it, the NHL has an announcement to make.

It must suspend Chris Pronger today.

The Ducks defenceman has to pay for his forearm shiver that left the Senators' Dean McAmmond dazed and motionless for a minute or two last night. McAmmond, who scored the winning goal in a must game against Anaheim, was not around to celebrate at the final buzzer. He missed the last 18 minutes with a "head injury."

Somehow, Pronger was not penalized, just as he didn't get whistled for the head shot he delivered to Detroit's Tomas Holstrom in Round 3. Upon review by the league discipline committe, Pronger was suspended for a game. He has to get at least that today.

"I didn't see the hit," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said after Ottawa's 5-3 victory. "I can't make any comments on the hit, sorry."

Chris Neil did.

"You don't like to see that stuff happen ... he took an elbow in the head and you feel for a teammate," said the Senators winger. "You want to play that much harder. Patrick Eaves took a hit like that (in Round 1) and we came and won that game for him, too.

"The league will probably review it and hopefully call something on it."

Added Jason Spezza: "From what I heard in the room, it was pretty dirty. I'm sure they'll review it."

Meanwhile, in a earlier tussle with his worst nightmare, perhaps Spezza took a subtle shot in the head.

Maybe, in giving him jersey No. 44 to wear while his No. 19 was being repaired, the Senators' equipment staff was also instructed by coach Bryan Murray to pass along a message similar to one from an earlier era: "Tell him he's Patrick Eaves."

Spezza sure wasn't himself in the biggest game the Senators franchise has played since its rebirth. Nor was Dany Heatley. The two stars combined for zero shots on goal, and if not for the two (plus a third off his foot that became a controversial goal) by Daniel Alfredsson, the big line would have laid a big egg in the big game.

On this night, Heatley-Spezza-Alfredsson was more of a fourth line than a first line.

Fortunately for Ottawa, the other three lines didn't just step up, they pole-vaulted.

Third-liners Antoine Vermette, Chris Kelly and Neil were outstanding. Mike Fisher made up for a first-period gaffe to turn in a stellar performance.

Before the Neil goal, second-liner Peter Schaefer worked so hard along the boards he exhausted himself to the point he could barely make it back to the bench. The shift, a great one, produced a scoring opportunity by defenceman Chris Phillips that would have ended in a goal had his shot not hit J.S. Giguere, who had no idea it was coming.

The Oleg Saprykin-McAmmond-Christoph Schubert energy line also gave Murray some good shifts. At least, more than the coach got from his big line in the Senators' biggest game.

STARTS AND STOPS

A second-period goal that looked like it was going to be ruled kicked in by Alfredsson was declared good after a video review. Probably had nothing to do with the fans chanting, "Goal, goal, goal." Probably nothing to do with it at all ... Mike Fisher might want to forget the first period. First, it was his bad decision/giveaway along the boards that led to McDonald's goal and the Ducks' early lead. Later, Fisher lost his cool and took a penalty by roughing up Travis Moen. Lucky for him, Moen was sent off at the same time for diving ... On the heels of his best playoff game, Ray Emery looked bad in giving up second-period goals to Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf ... Quick opinion on the pre-game party and general atmosphere in the Red Zone: Wow ... The glow coming from new dad Neil did not give Spezza, his next-stall neighbour, any ideas. "Are you kidding?" Spezza grimaced when asked if he was feeling a sudden impulse to start a family of his own. "I'm having a hard enough time taking care of myself." ... The Neils have a babysitter if they want one in Fisher. "I will," he said. His rate? "Friendship dues," said uncle Mike. How many girls just thought they'd like to volunteer their help? ... How did Moen miss that wide-open net in the second minute of the second period?

BETWEEN PERIODS

Again, Mike Comrie showed he's more than willing to take one for the team. Just past the two-minute mark, the Senators winger dropped the gloves and started to take his helmet off while asking Perry to scrap. Perry -- who has been a general pain in the backside of the Senators -- stands five inches taller than Comrie. He declined the invitation, either because he was displaying some discipline or he saw something in Comrie's eyes he didn't like ... Neil, who was shoving with Moen before the opening faceoff, saved his biggest shove for Sean O'Donnell. He savoured his big hit on the Ducks' defenceman for a bit, too ... In the house was 99-year-old Russell Williams, who was also in the house the last time the Senators won a Stanley Cup. If that's not karma, what is?


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