by SENShobo on 09/30/10 at 11:08 AM ET
Kovalev still excited for the game, and willing to throw out only his fourth ever fight (every team gets one), but first. . .
For fans of the Ottawa Senators anxiously trying to get a read on the 2010-11 version of their National Hockey League team, that was what Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs handed them.
[A]fter overcoming a 2-0 deficit and taking a 3-2 lead early in the third period, the Senators allowed two goals in the final six minutes to drop their preseason record to 2-4.
“It’s unfortunate to lose a game that way,” [Leclaire] said. “We were in pretty good shape and then it kind of slipped away from us. A couple of bounces. The third goal was kind of a weird bounce, and then the last it got tipped or something in front.
“It’s always [frustrating], but there were some good things as well, and we’ll move and learn from our mistakes. Bad bounces are better now than next week, I guess.”
The story of the game will be exuberance, only it needs to be less parts youthful and foolish for the season ahead.
Simply put, when you spend nearly a quarter of the game shorthanded, handing over nine power play opportunities, can you be so surprised when your opponent capitalizes on three of them? Offensive zone penalties are never needed, and Fisher should be wiser than the holding penalty he took to give the Leafs their game winner, just as Cowen should be better at clearing the puck given the defensive expectations of him.
The finer points of evaluation still have to be left to the coaches, without any systems fully in place, evidenced by Ottawa’s 66% PK and 0% PP success rates. But, if there is one point of petty solace for Senators faithful, it was Kadri’s 2-1—3 night. After showing all pre-season that he did not belong, such an outing might resonate enough among Toronto fans, media, and management, to the point where Kadri winds up in Toronto sooner than he should, and the Leafs begin anew another over-eager prospect development. But that’s just petty.
From the Ottawa Senators, Kovalev still has excitement for the game,
“I still love this game and I still enjoy what I do,” the 37-year-old Ottawa Senators forward said earlier this week when asked if there were any doubts he’d be able to make it back from a major knee injury he suffered back in April . “I definitely want to win another Cup before the end of my career.
“But I’m always excited (to play hockey). I love this game hard enough to just come back and really enjoy it. I don’t see myself sitting in front of a TV yet and watching other kids play hockey. I still want to be a part of it.”
“I didn’t feel any issue with the knee (last Friday) but like any other first game, when you don’t play for six months, it gets a little tougher. The legs get numb because I’m not used to skating in a game. We practise a lot but practices are one thing and the games are different. For about a period and a half, it was hard to get yourself going, but toward the end I felt pretty good.”
“I’m just happy to be around and still playing hockey,” he said. “That’s what I’m happy about. With all the injuries I’ve had, I still feel pretty good and I still feel like I can keep up with the younger guys these days and contribute a lot in different ways ... (It’s about) just being around the guys and doing something for the fans and the team and if, in my career, I make somebody happy then I’m happy.”
How excited? How desiring of making somebody happy? Well, I’m glad you asked.
From the Ottawa Sun, on Kovalev’s once-in-five-blue-moons fight,
Unless the cheers were for the guy dressed in blue and white — and at Scotiabank Place, that’s entirely possible — then Alex Kovalev won himself a few more Ottawa fans Wednesday night. All it took was getting punched out in a fight.
Kovalev was accompanied by a roar from the crowd as he skated to the box after dropping gloves and helmets with Maple Leafs defenceman Francois Beauchemin during the second period of Wednesday’s 4-3 pre-season loss. The unofficial scorecard shows Beauchemin ahead 10-1 on the ‘Punches Thrown’ count, but only up 4-0 on ‘Punches Landed’.
“I just used my head to hurt him,” Kovalev said with a grin afterward. “Looks like he hurt his hand.”
Asked why he fought, Kovalev claimed he “just wanted to mix it up, do something different.” That he did. Entering his 18th NHL season, Kovalev has been in just three other scraps, according to hockeyfights.com. Against Toronto’s Darcy Tucker March 25, 2006, Florida’s Alex Hicks Dec. 30, 1998 and Dallas’ Dave Gagner Feb. 26, 1994.
In case you didn’t see the fight, you can view it over at Puck Daddy. The only question that remains is his motivation. Was it truly because Jay Rosehill interfered with/ran over Karlsson, and no call was made? Was it to start the season off differently, so that it would go differently than last season? Was he looking for an early hand injury, ala Chara’s last Ottawa playoff appearance, so that an easy excuse could be found for any Senators fans clutching scoresheets while foaming at the mouth? Was he watching Rocky XXI last night and figured that he too was nowhere near over the hill? The pool’s now on to see when he’ll drop the gloves next, and whether it’s for a fight or retirement.
Just two pre-season tilts against the Rangers remain. Will Elliott or Leclaire grab the reins hard and fast? Will Wiercioch’s smooth skating, Cowen’s youthful and Hale’s seasoned hard hitting, or Lee’s middling mix win over Clouston as he counts down the days until Kuba’s return? Can Gonchar and Karlsson turn up Ottawa’s power play? How painful will it be to see Lee lining up across the man chosen after him in the draft, Marc Staal? Who will be noticed more on each side of the whistles: Avery or Ruutu? Can Tortorella help Clouston find his inner angry man?
Too many questions, and still too long until the real game begins.
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