Monday, October 3, 2011

Carkner Injury Gives Rundblad His Chance

Tough news for Matt Carkner today as the press learned he had surgery on the same knee that slowed him down last season and is out for at least a month. Carkner definitely didn't look right in the brief pre-season action he took part in, and his loss exposes a bit of a weakness on a team without much sandpaper back there.

Jared Cowen is going to be relied upon even more with Carkner out because he's going to be the only real force back there who can clear a crease or lay on the body with authority. Chris Phillips, more of an all-around defenseman, can play that game when he has to but it's not really his specialty. The Senators have always had a mean, physical shutdown player back there, whether it was Zdeno Chara, Anton Volchenkov or more recently, Carkner.

The good news is that Cowen has looked like a vet so far and he's got the size to move bodies back there. It also means David Rundblad gets some more time to try and break into the top 6. Right now it looks like he's out of the first three pairings as James Gordon reported Monday after practice. The top 6 duos are Phillips-Lee, Cowen-Gonchar and Kuba-Karlsson.

Who would drop out if Rundblad were to get a chance? Injuries might take care of that problem anyways, but there's no easy answer right now. The quick answer would be Filip Kuba taking a seat but does Paul MacLean want Erik Karlsson and Rundblad together? I doubt it. MacLean will probably give Kuba first chance to show he can still contribute because he's a veteran and the Sens have two tough road games to start the season with in Detroit and Toronto. MacLean may not want to feed Rundblad to the wolves in the Joe Louis arena just yet. He knows too well what guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg can do to a rookie who is only on the outer edge of being truly ready.

Again, all this could change either before game one or immediately after if the Sens get off to a rough start on the road. Maybe we see Rundblad against Dany Heatley and the Wild in the home opener.


If Chris Phillips manages to stay healthy and plays every game through early February, he'll log his 1000th match Feb. 4 at home against the Leafs. The boy who was to become known as "The Big Rig" played his first regular season game at only 19 years old against the Montreal Canadiens on October 1st, 1997. In that game he played 17 shifts without a point, but he got his first point at home, an assist, against the New York Rangers three games later on Oct. 15.

His first goal came by the end of the month on Oct. 30 in Miami when the Sens romped over the Panthers 5-2. Phillips put it by goalie Mark Fitzpatrick. Current Sens GM Bryan Murray was also the Panthers GM at the time. I'm pretty sure that Phillips was playing as a forward for this game (as he did occasionally early on in his career) because the Senators defense listed for that night also includes Jason York, Igor Kravchuk, Sean Hill, Janne Laukkanen, Stan Neckar, Wade Redden and Lance Pitlick. That's eight natural defenseman, so Jacques Martin must have been using Phillips up front, although I can't be sure. Other players to score in that game were Daniel Alfredsson, Andreas Dackell, Denny Lambert and Laukkanen. The Sens goalie of record was Damian "The Net" Rhodes.

But whatever Phillips does in the future, it's going to be hard to beat this overtime goal against Martin Brodeur in 2003 to keep the Sens alive in the Eastern Conference Final. Easily the craziest celebration I've ever seen the Senators have. Zdeno Chara nearly delivers the all-time mother of celebratory headshots to Phillips by leaping into the pile like a madman.

Some other milestones that can be reached this year in Ottawa:

If healthy, Chris Neil will pass his good buddy Mike Fisher on the all-time games played list Friday Nov. 11 in Buffalo against the Sabres, which would be Neil's 676th game, all in a Senators uniform. Neil also has 1000 more penalty minutes than the next name on the Sens all-time list, and that name is Chris Phillips with 655 PIMs. Neil has 1683.

Jason Spezza can pass Alexei Yashin for second place on the all-time goals list if he can score at least 27 goals this season to pass Yashin's total of 218. Spezza sits at 192. He's scored more than 30 goals three times so far in his career but he hasn't done that in two seasons. Here's betting he gets it done in 2012.

People talk about Chris Phillips league worst plus/minus last season but the Big Rig is still a healthy +73 for his career. The Sens all-time +/- leader is Wade Redden at +159. Not too shabby.

Daniel Alfredsson is currently the 69th best scorer in NHL history with 1023 points, sitting above names like Jarome Iginla (1006) and Maurice "The Rocket" Richard (965). He's about to pass Alexei Kovalev (1024), Brian Leetch (1028), Alexander Mogilny (1032), Doug Weight (1033) and former Ottawa 67 Bobby Smith (1036). If Alfie has a good comeback season with say 60 or 65 points, he'll be up around 57th all-time passing the likes of Henri Richard, Denis Potvin, Joe Mullen, Keith Tkachuk, Dave Taylor and Theo Fleury. Notice there's a few Hall Of Famers in that list. If he has a great season of 70 or more points, he'll be pushing HOF'ers Glenn Anderson and Frank Mahovolich for the top 55 position. Fellow countryman Nicklas Lidstrom currently sits at 54th all-time with 1108 points.

Hopefully for the Senators, he doesn't add to that total in the season opener this Friday.


Anonymous said...

I'd bet that the Rundblad situation takes care of itself, in that he eventually gets into the lineup via an injury. Every year someone goes down with a groin, or back spasm, or bumps and bruises, or whatever.

Barring that, a three game losing streak might the time to shake up things a bit and work him in.

Love the milestone stats.

I like how Redden's stats speak for themselves. There's a lot of revisionist history going on with regards to Redden's time with Ottawa. The former all-star/Olympian/World Cup player was regarded by many as one of the best D men in the league, for a while.

Gretzky chose him for his Olympic team and his World Cup Gold winning team. I remember Jacques Demers having Redden on his list of top 5 D in the league, back in 2005 (in an interview on TSN).

I love Chara, but during his time here, only in 2005-06 did he log more average ice time than Redden. ONLY ONE YEAR.

Every other year, Redden logged more average ice time than Chara. Redden was emphatically our number one defenseman. The stats prove it.

When Chara left, Redden once again led our D as the number one guy, and we made the Finals.

Chara's a great D man. But this fiction that seems to be going around that he was our best D man of the last 20 years has been influenced by his work as a Bruin. Because, as a Sen, Redden was the man. Just look at the stats on

Nice to see Alfie climb the all-time points ladder.

As for Spezza, I bet he passes Yash a well. He's only mid-career and he's already established himself as the best centerman in franchise history, in my books. Second all-time in franchise points already.

It just goes to show how scarce number one centers are, in that in 20 years, we've only had two: Spezza and Yashin.

Anshu said...

The top 6 duos are Phillips-Lee, Cowen-Gonchar and Kuba-Karlsson.

Just thought I'd point out that back on September 24th, in a comment on this site defending Lee's chances of making the team, I wrote:

I'm thinking the pairings may end up (in no particular order):
Gonchar - Cowen
Kuba - Karlsson
Phillips - Lee

Jeremy Milks said...

1st Anon: Agree completely about Redden. He was this team's franchise defenseman. Doesn't get nearly the amount of respect he deserves for his time here.

Anshu: Congratulations on predicting Matt Carkner would have knee surgery. You are like Kreskin or something.

Anshu said...

Anshu: Congratulations on predicting Matt Carkner would have knee surgery. You are like Kreskin or something.

I think the reality is that Lee is now well ahead of Carkner on the Maclean depth chart, and has been through most of training camp.

Unless Lee implodes, when Carkner recovers from injury I'm pretty sure he's not going to be put in ahead of Lee.

Of the guys in the current top 6 most at risk of losing their spot, I'm guessing its Kuba, not Lee.

Anshu said...

BTW, I agree that most fans are wrong about Redden. His play dropped off a cliff at the end, but before that, he was an exceptional D-man and a key part of our run to the Stanley Cup final.