Kukla's Korner


Sens Defeat Frolunda, But Lose Fisher

  • Ottawa beats Frolunda 4-1 in their final excitement-filled pre-season game.
  • Fisher is injured in win, uncertain of his status for Saturday’s regular season opener.
  • Alfredsson contract talks set to begin with an initial offer on Saturday from J.P. Barry.
  • Sens lose depth as Isbister and Nikulin make plans of their own.

When it was all over and he was the last player on the ice Thursday, after his Ottawa Senators had defeated the Frolunda Indians 4-1, Daniel Alfredsson was forced to take one last bow before leaving town.

The fans of the Indians, who had watched him grow up and then followed his career in Ottawa, demanded it.  No one was leaving, and it took Alfredsson, who was doing an interview with a Swedish television station at centre ice, a minute to figure it out. The TV interviewer had to whisper in his ear.

“They said, ‘Look around, you’re the only one left on the ice and people are chanting,’ ” said Alfredsson. “I didn’t realize at the time, so I did a little lap there.

A fitting tribute for the man who led the Indians to the Swedish title during the lockout, and helped bring them an Olympic gold. That he got a goal and an assist (with Spezza, Kelly, and Picard netting the other four) was irrelevant in the ovation he received, as the third most popular Swede in hockey, behind Forsberg and Sundin (or so I’m told).

What surprised the players more than anything was the crowd. The 12,000-seat Scandanavium was packed and the crowd was especially loud, though it already has the reputation of being one of the loudest in the league.

People in Göteborg come to watch a hockey game, not to watch the people around them, or to make the scene.  One particularly boistorous section of obviously hardcore fans seems to make three-quarters of the noise here, with drums and chants going nonstop. Every time Tomi Kallio touches the puck, they chant his name, stretching the two final vowels out to an ear-straining length.

Spezza was awed. “I thought the fans were amazing,” he said. “We have great fans at home, but if maybe they could take a little bit of the way they cheer here and bring it home, it would be a great time.

“It was an exciting building to play in. It was pretty neat.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sens fans need to get louder. Louder even than Bell Centre fans. Maybe someone will buy a drum, or come up with a cheer for every time Alfie touches the puck, or cheers to burst out with sporadically to support each individual member of the team. Maybe I’m only dreaming, but it’s a dream I’m sure the Ottawa Senators have far too often.

  • While the Sens won the battle last night, they lost a key warrior in Fisher (Ottawa Sun).

The Senators closed out their pre-season with a win over the Frolunda Indians, but without centre Mike Fisher.

He aggravated his groin injury in the first period of the Senators’ 4-1 win over the Indians at the Scandinavium arena and it didn’t sound good when it comes to Fisher playing in the regular-season opener tomorrow night in Stockholm against the Penguins.

“We’ll see (tomorrow). I don’t really know,” Fisher said of his chances of playing in the opener. He won’t skate today and will try it tomorrow in the morning skate.

“It was the second shift, just on the blue line. I made quick move to try and catch the ‘D’ and kind of felt it,” said Fisher. “I felt it right away and knew I didn’t want to push it. I wanted to come off and be smart.”

Supposedly this is not related to any previous injuries, giving us some hope that he will be back in the lineup before we know it, but it is a large loss indeed. With the cash line assembled, the next biggest scoring threat is Vermette, and after that it’s anyone’s guess who’s most likely to score. Balanced scoring is one of the main goals in turning this team around, and seeing Fisher out is anything but helping the Sens to achieve that aim.

“It’s very preliminary discussions, but it’s always worth talking. We’re looking forward to it,” said Melnyk. “What we would like to do is come up with something so he is a Senator for life, but we have to realistic about what we can do and where the economy is heading. We’ll see what happens.”

It’s expected Barry will tender an offer to kickstart negotiations tomorrow. Alfredsson is probably looking for at least a two-year deal, maybe three. The longer the deal, the smaller the yearly salary, but something in the $20-million-to-$25-million range over three years is about market value.

As I’ve said before, it will be interesting to see how much time Alfie and the Sens are willing to commit to each other, and how much money the team is willing to recognize Alfie’s contributions with vs. how much money Alfie is willing to leave on the table for Murray to build a team (and potential Cup contender once more?) around him.

  • Binghamton depth at forward shrinking as Isbister and Nikulin plan to move on (pressconnects.com).

“He won’t be coming,” Flahr said of Isbister. “After the camp, he looked for his place in the depth chart, and he wasn’t happy. And perhaps we don’t want a player coming down here that isn’t happy to be here.

“So we told him he could search for his other options, and he let us know at this point that he won’t be coming. And we’re fine with that.”

The 31-year-old Isbister was originally signed to a one-year, two-way deal to help provide depth and perhaps some mentoring down in Binghamton. Last season, he went 6-5—11 in 55GP with the Canucks, and some would think fondly of the pre-season pass he fed McAmmond that led to his goal.

But can you blame him? Riding the buses, playing back-to-back-to-back games, that is the stuff for rookies to deal with as a part of their training. Even Denis Hamel has at the bare minimum the stipulation that he plays only in Binhamton, and cannot be called up to Ottawa, giving him some stability and more predictability for his family life. I hope Isbister finds what he needs in Europe.

Meanwhile, Nikulin, who ranked third on the B-Sens in scoring last season, said Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray told his agent that “he has no spot (on the) Ottawa Senators in the future” and that “he’s not (the) kind of player they want there.”

It was that talk that prompted the trade request, he said.

“He said (what) is the point to stay here in the American League when the guys are battling for a spot there, and everybody gets a chance except me,” said B-Sens forward Kaspars Daugavins, translating for Nikulin.

“I’ll never get there, so I’d rather get another team, or go back home (to Russia).”

That certainly sounds like you should be considering your options, right? If they don’t want to give you a shot, and don’t even want you around, surely getting away has every right to be on the top of your mind. But wait just a minute…

But Flahr said Thursday morning that he had talked to Murray the day before, and that as of then, no formal trade request had been made.

He also denied that Nikulin has no place in the organization’s future.

“That’s not true at all,” Flahr said, adding later: “He’s got great skill, great hands, vision. But away from the puck, certain things. The speed of the game up there, it’s hard. So he has some things to learn, but we want him here. And if he doesn’t want to be here, then we’ll have to make a decision.”

That doesn’t sound quite right, does it? A bit of a disconnect, but is someone lying to Nikulin, or is it he that is misleading us on his blog (translated here)? This marks the second year that I’ve seen Nikulin at the Rookie Tournament in Kitchener, and while he has come a long way, he was indeed left off the exhibition rosters for a reason.

Of all the players who played in exhibition games, I do not feel that any of them were surpassed in those Rookie Tournament games in their roles by Nikulin. Certainly it was obvious when Zubov was running the powerplay or Winchester creating scoring chances while maintaining his defensive awareness, that they were presenting themselves better than Nikulin, who would be caught waiting too deep by the net, looking for a tip in and missing the passes he would get.

But even beyond that, players such as Carkner had a role to potentially play in Ottawa. As skilled as Nikulin wants to play, you can’t have a team with nothing but offensive players (unless you’re in Tampa, the heat gets to some people down there). You need those two-way players to keep things from getting out of hand, those checkers to wear down opponents, and even those fighters to prevent yourself from being fully taken advantage of. None of the roles we needed to fill could be filled by Nikulin, and considering the trouble Murray’s been having with paring down the roster during a very short pre-season, it was not surprising to see Nikulin left out. I feel for him, but I can’t fully condone his actions or his words.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink
  Tags: alexander+nikulin, brad+isbister, daniel+alfredsson, mike+fisher


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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