Kukla's Korner


Coke Zero Calls It In Sens 5-0 Win

The eternal well of hope that is Sergei Gonchar, the tougher choices ahead for Matt Carkner, Don Cherry’s high expectations of Ottawa, a couple rookies head back to the juniors, and one all-around admirable prospect, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and OS, NHL), on the Senators 5-0 win in Toronto’s Coke Zero sponsored game,

“I don’t think there was one guy that I could say I was disappointed in,” Clouston said. “I think there were some players who played a little better than others, but, overall, it was a good team effort.

“That’s what we want … we want tough decisions. We want guys to make us sit around after the game and debate who played well and who played better, and who deserves another game and maybe who doesn’t.
“I felt pretty calm,” Lehner said. “I got a lot of help from the team, though. We played five guys forward and all the five guys were back helping me defend, too.

“It’s really comfortable when you have that kind of (defence) playing in front of you. I saw every puck. There were a couple of hard ones, but that’s what hockey is.”

A lot to like about the performance, but still plenty of proving left before the season opens.

When your team is killing penalties for over a fifth of the game, including 3:19 down two men, it does not look good for a team missing the likes of Phillips, Alfredsson, Fisher, Michalek, and Ruutu. Yet somehow only 8 shots made it to Lehner, despite a well below average 11 shots blocked for the Senators, and not one made it through.

For all the positives, you would have liked to see a bit more from some. Fewer than the three giveaways by Cowen, who should have the reach to not only block passes, but to keep the puck from being pressured into opponents’ hands. Better choices by Lee, who went down and took himself out of the play to attempt a block as many times as he was able to get in the way (two apiece). Even-strength production from Campoli, who was effectively tied for defensive ice time, but will have to work harder to keep versatility a part of his game, while taking fewer penalties (two). Better production from Shannon, Butler, and Hoffman, who had nine shots between them, but no points and all even plus/minus.

With a completely revamped Leaf lineup for tonight, and a vastly different Senators squad, there will be a better feel for the Senators’ depth after tonight’s pre-season double-header finish.

From the Ottawa Citizen, on Gonchar’s ramp-up to meshing into Ottawa’s systems,

“It’s not a one day process,” Gonchar says, after a practice session on Tuesday, for players not taking part in the Tuesday-Wednesday pre-season games in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.

“I’ve been here a few weeks, I’ve met everybody obviously and I like the guys,” he says. “It seems we have a lot of skilled guys here, and now it’s just a matter of getting adjusted to each other and clicking on the ice.”
“Sometimes we had the tendency to pass the puck around and not shoot as much because we had so much skill out there,” Gonchar says. “And obviously we have a lot of skilled guys here, so we have to make sure we have a shooting mentality, have a presence in front and help each other out there.”

There has been enough speculation about Gonchar’s impact on the power play during the off-season, and all that’s left is for his worth to be proven. While you can never say for sure what will come, the fact alone that the Senators have added to their guns with the man advantage without subtracting anyone, only adding experience to youngsters like Foligno, Regin, and Karlsson, gives the team an immediately better chance to have an impact.

From the Ottawa Sun, Carkner needs more than grit with his added blue line responsibilities this season,

The expected battle between Matt Carkner and Colton Orr was a non-starter when Orr didn’t play.

Earlier in the day, Carkner said he’s looking forward to rekindling his rivalry with the Toronto tough man.

“Oh yeah, you hear it all summer from everyone,” he said. “There’s so many Toronto fans and Ottawa fans in the capital, I hear different things. Some people chirp me, some people praise me. It’s awesome. That’s the thing about playing Ontario teams. It’s a great rivalry and that’s just another story to go along with it.”

Asked if he knew the score from their four bouts last season (that voters on hockeyfights.com had 3-1 in favour of Orr), Carkner grinned and replied: “I don’t know. I think three shifts to (every one of his) one.”

Therein lies the rub. While Smith showed his toughness in taking on Rosehill, and is still not guaranteed a regular spot in the lineup, Carkner’s situation is vastly different from last year.

In 2009-10, Carkner sat well behind Phillips and Volchenkov for below the blue line depth, Kuba as well, without the physicality. This season, Volchenkov’s 3:31 of shorthanded ice time per game will need to be redistributed, along with the post-deadline 2:28 of Sutton, and until his healing is complete the 2:32 of Kuba. For Phillips (3:50), Carkner (2:16), and the newly acquired Gonchar (2:54), there is not much room to shuffle off the responsibility and effectively double their time with the man down.

Nor is there immediately much faith that you can give that much more load to any of Lee (0:42), Campoli (0:35), or Karlsson (0:05). Especially before Kuba’s return, Carkner will be one of only two Ottawa defence men who have been able to average more than three quarters of a minute of penalty killing per game in the NHL. Both Neil and Carkner offer a lot more than toughness while on the ice, unlike an Orr, but this season the marks must be picked all the more judiciously. Trying to have Karlsson, Campoli, or Gonchar clear away an opponent from the crease, or stop him from banging in a rebound that’s certain to come more frequently to his stick with the inexperience on the penalty kill, will not be something to look forward to, and while it took until the third period of this season’s hockey for the Senators to take a useless too many men penalty, minding the striped men could be all the more decisive for the Senators this season.

From the Ottawa Sun, Cherry on the Sens,

“There’s no way they’ll be out of the playoffs — I guarantee it,” said Cherry.

“I don’t understand that at all. They could cause a lot of trouble. They got (Sergei) Gonchar on the point, and with (Daniel) Alfredsson on the other side, they’ll make something out of that on the power play. They’ll make the playoffs. I guarantee it.”
While the Battle of Ontario has lost a bit of its lustre now five full seasons removed from a playoff matchup between the teams, Cherry said it won’t take much to reignite the rivalry between the two teams.

“I think you need Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker, Shayne Corson, a few guys like that and you’ll get it going again,” he said. “It looks like Toronto’s got a few guys like those guys, so it should be a little different. You watch, it’ll pick up, probably starting (with Tuesday’s game).”

Finally a vote of confidence, that’s all I will say.

From the Ottawa Senators, the Senators send two back,

The Ottawa Senators announced today they have reduced their training camp roster by two forwards, re-assigning 2010 draft choices Jakub Culek and Mark Stone to their junior teams.

Culek will return to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rimouski Océanic, while Stone will join the camp of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings.

Without the five-in-five, nine in total pre-season schedule of the Maple Leafs, the Senators did not need to keep a gargantuan roster, and both 2010 picks will need plenty more seasoning before they make it to the NHL, with perhaps a main camp minus the pre-season serving to help their motivation.

From the Ottawa Citizen, on one prospect who still has a moment or two left with Ottawa,

Greening, 24, comes to the Senators from Cornell University, where he was an all-star on the ice, in the classroom and in organizing extracurricular activities. He served as captain of Cornell’s hockey team, scoring 15 goals and 20 assists in 34 games. He spearheaded fundraising to aid underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic. He completed his degree in applied economics and management with a 3.99 grade-point average, out of a potential high score of 4.0.
Greening knows that he’s likely ticketed for Binghamton of the American Hockey League in the next week or two, where he will have to show he can handle the grind of sometimes playing three games in three days in a league which is several gears faster than collegiate hockey.

“The biggest mental challenge was to prepare myself for that,” he said. “I told myself that I want to make it as difficult as possible for them to send me down, and if I do get sent down, I want to be the first guy they send up. As a rookie, and someone who doesn’t know the team and the system and things like that, I think that’s the most realistic way to look at it. You need to grow up a little bit when you come here.”

The story of guys like this, who can succeed in academics as much as they can get a Hobey Baker nomination for point-per-game play and leadership, are far too rare. He won’t likely be a top flight player for the Senators, but it’s the off-ice behaviour of Senators that can truly win the fans over, be it from Alfredsson, from pre-decline Redden’s CHEO work, or from someone like Greening showing an example for all athletes with dreams of going pro to aspire to. Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last we hear of Greening, on or off the ice.

Filed in: NHL News, NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink


Russian Rocket's avatar

“There’s no way they’ll be out of the playoffs”

I would agree with that.  Within the East I think Ottawa can challenge for the NE title and if they fall short should be in that 5-6 spot again.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 09/22/10 at 11:31 AM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

I think you have to forgive Lee his few positional mistakes last night and acknowlege that he had a pretty good game overall. I’d say he was our second best defenceman, after Carkner (who was excellent overall despite getting beat at the line once or twice). Agree that it was a dissapointing night for Shannon, Hoffman and Butler - but Shannon was pushing hard, at least. Would have liked to have seen more from Wick after a good move to set up the first goal. Cowen, I think, needs to get stronger on his skates and clearly needs a little more time to adjust to the speed of things - his natural gifts will only cover for so much.

Overall, though, can’t argue with results.

As for Gonchar we’ll just have to wait and see how he meshes. I think he’ll be a tremendous benefit in a variety of ways - not just on the powerplay. As great a shutdown pair as Volchenkov and Phillips were, the pairing was an offensive black hole; and that made it difficult to transition the puck back up ice at even strength. Gonchar should take a lot of pressure off the forwards in that regard.

The PK problem noted while Kuba is out is a definite biggie. Hopefully one of Campoli, Lee (assuming he’s the fill in for Kuba, which looks probable) or Karlsson (gotta say I doubt it) steps up there. I don’t know if it puts extra responsibility on Carkner, though, as his putting up more PK minutes seems to have been a given already.

As for Cherry, you have to remember that he did call then-Sen Brandon Bochenski to win the Calder one year during the pre-season of 05-06. That honour eventually went to some Russian named Alex something.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 09/22/10 at 03:25 PM ET

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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net