Big Country, Big Game

- April 2nd, 2014

If the Senators lose tonight’s game at Canadian Tire Centre, it will be a disappointing end to their season.
Falling to the New York Islanders won’t mathematically eliminate them from the chase for a playoff spot, but they won’t deserve to be in the conversation any longer.
Some of you think they don’t deserve to be in the conversation now, and I’m sure you have good points to back up your argument. But I say if they run the table, they’re qualified to qualify. And them running the table is possible, if highly improbable.
But back to the present. The Islanders have eight fewer points than the Senators. They’ve lost six more games than the Senators. They have 10 rookies in their lineup. They are without star centre John Tavares, and their opponents no longer have to deal with Matt Moulson OR Thomas Vanek.
They also played last night – beating the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Long Island – while the Senators had the day off to relax (and watch Champion’s League soccer, apparently).
It all adds up to the fact the Senators can’t lose this game … except they can. They’ve certainly played down to their opponent’s level a few times this season, and the Islanders have even less to lose than the Senators.
Their post-season hopes were dashed weeks ago.
“It’s a big game,” Big Country (aka Islanders defenceman Matt Carkner) told me outside the visitors dressing room at CTC this morning. “Obviously, that’s our role right now. We’re trying to work our best just to be the spoilers. We’re just trying to have fun and play the right way right now.
“Ottawa is in a tough bind here right now. I know they need the points. It’s going to be a high intensity game for sure.”
Carkner, who you all know is a Winchester native that was in the Senators organization from 2007-2012, said he’ll have extra incentive against his old team tonight. But only because it’s his old team – and players always want to do well against the organization that had them, but then didn’t resign them.
Asked about any bad feelings he has with the Senators, Carkner replied:
“Well not with my teammates, no, it’s …. not with anyone here. We left on good terms. We both knew what we were trying to do, and that’s the way it went.”

Categories: Hockey

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12 comments

  1. Bobby Goodman says:

    Donny, I think after 76 games (or whatever it is) you are what your record says you are; hell, it was after 25! The Sens lost to the 4th worst team in the league; it was never really a big game. 16 teams go to the playoffs and 14 do not. You only have to be among the 53% to advance. It is the 3rd time the Sens missed the post season since Murray assumed control of the Organization in ’07 – ’08. And he is here for the next 2 years…I don’t understand. I would take Dave’s old version of the Stanley Cup finalists over this bunch. Once you get past a few, there isn’t a hell of a lot to really celebrate (unless mediocrity amuses).

    The sad reality is the team is a bad one. Karlsson certainly is the subject of much discussion but really and truly, does he really want it? Is he a guy you win with? I checked out the ESPN Box Score, do you know that according to the report submitted he wasn’t responsible for a single give away? I counted 4 in the first period! He is celebrated and he doesn’t even try for God sakes, nor does he even care! Apparently the DAC punished him for his pitiful effort but logged 26 minutes; was that punishment?

    Do you think a slow, lumbering kid who can’t stay on his feet, has 1 assist in 17 games, 7 goals in 57 and is minus 15 should get to icetime Zzzz gets in all situations? I am complety dumbfounded why this is going on. Do you agree with how the DAC managed the game tonight? Why would Kassian even play? Why not give Hoffman some reps with Hemsky, PK and PP? He led the team in TAs. Zibanisbad in the middle with Hemsky, really? It’s all so very silly. I wonder what we are going to see in the final 6 games…but then again, why should I care. The Organization and 2 players don’t! They will pump up the volume and the fans will eat it up. I don’t. What a sorry state this Franchise is in.

  2. Dan the Man says:

    It is sad, that is all I can say. Losing to the Islanders farm team is just plain pathetic. I think it is safe to say that we are a very mediocre team trending backwards. If we are really a good team with lots of upside, but having an off year, then I blame the coach. If we are still a mediocre to poor team, then I blame the GM for doing a poor job putting a team together. What is it? You can’t have it both ways.

  3. Bobby Goodman says:

    Donny, I think you are the only member of the local media who was willing to expose some flaws in Karly’s game (I suspect you are the one responsible for him “going dark” earlier). I say good on you. Is there a conspiracy? Certainly there is! In the other paper today today James Gordon “Jeered” Cal Clutterbuck because he failed to score on two break aways (he’s not in the NHL to score goals with only 73 in 416 games). Gordon described the Islander as a “carnival pony” trying to outrun the “thoroughbred Karlsson”. Clutterbuck was killing a penalty and got behind Karlsson. Instead of complaining about Karly’s play, in effect, he praised and complimented the offenseman, Karly (who allows players behind him often)!

    Can you imagine that some have even suggested Karly is a “Hart Trophy” candidate!? Shouldn’t a player possess a heart to earn one? OV is the Captain in Washington and leads the league in goal scoring, should he win the Hart? He is another, who like Karly, quits or doesn’t even show up.

    It is my understanding that the Home Team is responsible for submitting the game log (stats); if that is true, it might explain why Karly wasn’t attributted with a single give Gva when THEY was on full display on national TV!!! The DAC really made a statement and reduced his ice-time by, 90 seconds (and he is appologetic about it).

    It is the same with Zibanisbad. We all know he gets to play in ALL situations but the question that begs to be asked is why? I would love to hear somone/anyone in the organization explain it to us (because “he drives the middle” is not a legitimate answer).

    Did you know that Zzzz scored only 6 goals in 29 games for Bingo! That was enough to get the Organization, the Marketting/Promotion department and by default, members of the media and most fans really excited! Zzz has now played 116 games in the NHL and scored 21 goals. It averages out to 1 goal every 5.5 games; the “Carnival Pony” Clutterbuck scores 1 goal every 5.7 games!

    In 65 games this year, Zzzz has scored 14 goals, good for one goal every 4.6 games. When you look at the numbers closer, you discover he’s got only 7 goals in the last 47 games (one goal for evey 6.7 played). Over that stretch, he was minus 9! So, he isn’t a goal scorer (he never, ever was) but does he make things happen? I would say not he doesn’t. He has only 15 assists in 65 games played and he has played with the teams very best in ideal situations! Yet, he’s earned the DAC’s trust/confidence and has been rewarded. Inexplicably, Zzz gets icetime in all situations! We see him for every power play, in OT, when the goalie is pulled for an extra attack and even to kill penalities! He stood idle and watched as one was scored last night! Does it make any sense at all?

    I don’t see his great skating or stickhandling. The Shooter shoots ony when someone puts on a platter for him and he has all day. I don’t see him engage or wing battles. Do you Donny?

  4. Dan the Man says:

    Listening to the Team 1200 etc…it seems to me the common theme being espoused for Ottawa’s poor showing this year is that it is a one off and the future is bright. They seem to be saying in unison that we should not blame the genius GM, the brilliant coach, the veterans who are pillars in our society, the youngsters who are overflowing with skill and talent and our superior farm team which is chock full of outstanding draft picks and future NHL stars.

    All I can say is that if I invested thousands and thousands of dollars on this team, I would be one unhappy camper and would expect some major changes. Nevertheless, I didn’t, thank God, so I guess I should keep quiet and accept mediocrity like the 17,000 fans who pay to watch a team going downhill.

  5. Bobby Goodman says:

    It is interesting Davey and Pavvy haven’t commented here. I understand why Pavvy hasn’t, there was no chatter about the Suckubban and the Habions and he knows diddly squat about anything else but Davey, well he is loves the two young swedes “in sickeness and healthy until death do them part”.

    I have to assume Zzz’s “raw skills” Davey-boy was referring to have yet to manifest themselves. The fact that Zzz only has 7 goals in the last 47 games should be ignored, he is a project aferall. His 15 assists in 65 games is the same; at some point (lord God know s when, Zzzz will do exactly what Davey has been praying for and that is to “show even a little bit of creativity”. Once ever 4 games, Zzzz is good for an assist (it should serve Milan and Hemsky well). I wish I could live in the grey.

    What is the over/under on how many points Zzz with get tonight; how many goals or assists. How many shots will the shooter get? What about how many times he beats the opposition off the puck, to a corner, takes a hit to make a play, face off wins. What is the over/uner how far he is willing to make to skate with the puck…10, 13 or 17 feet? Will he play in all situations…mais ouis mes amis….he is a project.

    We will see Karly and Suckubban tonight. The last time they played, Suckubban had 3 assists, carried the puck, demonstrated his sick mitts, delivered thunderouds body checks…..what can we expect from Karly. It reall doesn’t matter at all because whatever he may do, he is a Thoroughbred and he will be loved even if he never takes it out of 2nd gear. The fatigued Thoroughbred is exhausted in his own end, but….when the coast is absolutely clear, on his one good leg he will take the puck…..all…….the ……..way, until there is a threat of being hit. He willl find lots of energy on the PP! When there is a chance in the other teams end he he transforms from 3 toed slot to a frenetic tazmanian devil (when it is safe of course). Lets count the blocked shots/missed shots, passes that either go to no one, way behind or to far ahead or intercepted, how many times he is beat in his own end…the dump ins that are immediately recoverd by Mntreal, how many times he’s caught up the ice…how many times Metot (an other team mates) is in his corner doing the heaving lifting. Lets count the give aways, the turn overs. Lets count how many times the small, scared habs beat him to and off a puck! How many times he allows someone to get to the puck before him and then off a free pass the net…and….lets count how many times he stands still and r e a c h e s to stop a goal from being scored and then throw his head back in a faux display of disgust. Lets do that shall we.

    Inerestingly….we don’t see any of that stuff from anyone else on this hockey club.

  6. OD99 says:

    Dan, interested to hear what major changes you would make. Please show your work.

  7. OD99 says:

    Bobby I am flattered you are so obsessed with me and Pav but please stop stalking me on the web. I will post when I feel it and while I am not sure what was supposed to get me so excited to post on this entry why don’t you go back to What Happened To Canada’s team and respond to me there?

  8. Dantheman says:

    OD, see my blog on Michalek. There is, in my opinion, a losing mentality in the Sens camp which has developped over the last 7 years. Obviously no one can snap their fingers and make changes happen overnight but I do shudder at some of the wasted opportunities. Losing Bizhop for nothing was silly. Anderson would have been great trade bait last spring and although his stock has fallen, he probably could fetch a decent defenceman who could be a number 4 dfenceman. Trading Spezza should get you a number 3 type defenceman. Already we have reduced our goals against by 50. I can go on and on. Needless to say a GM with some savy and imagination can certainly change the makeup of the team which is needed despite the snow job I keep hearing about how bright the future is etc… Were you pleased with the great performance last night vs Montreal. Unfortunately it has been like this mor or less since 2008.

  9. OD99 says:

    Dan.

    Losing Bishop was tough and while it is hindsight even at the time I thought we were better off to move Anderson (although he had just put up Vezina numbers) as we could get a legitimate return for him and then you go with a huge, AHL veteran who had proven he could play at the NHL level and Lehner. That one is over though – the real killer being the fact we just waived Conacher – so nothing to do about it now.

    I don’t know we can anoint Lehner the #1 job just yet so I would hang on to Anderson but get a pretty regular rotation going right from the start to really gauge where Lehner is at – if he is looking good then I think you have to move Anderson as he won’t want to stick around in a back-up role. Can’t imagine we would get too much for him given the recent return for top goalies but should be a fairly high pick or veteran D.

    There has to be some tough decisions made regardless as there are just too many bodies right now. With Boro and Claesson showing well (and Boro having a NHL salary regardless of where he plays) there will have to be some on the back end moving along this off season. I hope they give Claesson another year in the A to really show his stuff and get more tutelage from Richardson but would expect he gets a few games.

    As for the forwards…I have no issue with Michalek and Hemsky being retained if they don’t sign for too long or too much (well if they sign for too much it doesn’t really matter, we have lots of room). If we let Kassian go and trade Condra then we can still have the top 2 lines remain the same (swap Stone for Ryan with Turris) and then have a 3rd line of Hoffman / Zibby / Stone and a 4th of Greening / Smith / Neil.

    Will be interesting to see what happens but something will have to give before the start of the year.

  10. Dantheman says:

    All in all OD, if we are going to see improvement, some or at least a few significant is necessary. I simply don’t think the current Sen edition will get better unless somehow a solid #2 or 3 defenceman is obtained. Hemsky’s track record over the last decade is not promising, ergo I would be very hesitant to re-sign him. Michalek is very over-rated and I don’t think he is going to help this team at all. Supposedly we have all these can’t miss players in the minors. I would rather lose with them while they hopefully develop as opposed to seeing Michalek, Greening, Neil, Condra and Hemsky repeating another mediocre season.

  11. Bobby Goodman says:

    It is fascinating how Dave will get all giddy when the team wins a game but goes dark when they get embarrassed. It is also conspicuos he never comments when Karly vanishes in the tough contests. As much as I would love to chase him down, unlike him, I am committed and contribute to one blog only.

    Davey describes Karly’s game as “prickly”. I prefer to call it shamefully soft. Davey loved karly’s play against the Habs in the Team’s 7-4 loss. If Karly had an ounce of Gallagher’s passion/courage he could be a great player. Davey never comments on the many goals scored against the team when Karly is on the ice (all 4 versus Chicago for example and two games after when he was on for all three). A writer now has the courage to share it with everybod. Its not the goals that are scored as much Karly’s total lack of effort when they were scored. He watches. To the Fan Club, it is totally acceptable.

    It fascinates me that Davey and the Fool can ignore his inactivity, lack of effort, selfish play, poor passes, blocked shots, turn overs and give aways. As long as he pads his personal stats, Dave and the Fool are tickled pink. If at the end of the year the team again misses the playoffs, as long as Karly leads all D in scoring, the season is saved!

    It doesn’t matter how Karly plays or behaves, he will be loved:

    - has a reputation around the league for not showing up for games, quitting on plays, ignoring defencive responsibilities and playing inside the other teams blueline only
    - allowing free passes to the corners and net
    - lead the entire league in give aways by a wide margin
    - 180th out of 190 defencemen in total goals allowed (on the ice for goals scored against)
    - only 6 defencemen in the league with worse plus/minus
    - treat the media and fans with contempt
    - make excuses for his lack of passion (he now says he’s not 100% and has been tired)
    - takes dives and looks to the referees for a call

    Dave and the other fool love this. At the end of the year, he will lead the league in one positive stat only, total points for a defenceman.

    It should come as no surprise. Everything that has gone on since Murray’s arrival has been celebrated by Davey and the Fool. They are entertained by all the hiring and firings (they loved Clouston for God sakes). Davey thought the 24, 26 and 27 year old stars on the Sens in ’07 were too old, but Lapointe, Richardson, Ruutu, Smith, Kovalev, Sutton, Cullen, Leclaire. Stillman made the team younger/better! He loved all the D: Bell, Campoli, Lundin, Gilroy, etc. He loves the record from ’08 on: 2nd round once and bounced, 1st round twice and bounced, missing the playoffs 3 times! This everybody, is progress. It is ineresting Davey didn’t like Conacher when he was here. He’s loved every draft pick from Daisey to Zzz (the big slow slug who gets every opportunity. I shouldn’t be hard on Davey and the Fool. They can’t be faulted for being followers and totally ignorant.

  12. OD99 says:

    Bobby you outdid yourself on that one – your entire post is a figment of your imagination.

    Do you ever read what anyone writes or even your own posts?

    In one breath you say I don’t post when they lose (which is obviously wrong I wouldn’t have posted much this year at all) and then just a little later you write about my comment on Karlsson smoking Gallagher (and then trouncing Galchenyuk). Reading comprehension my dim, drama queen friend.

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