This isn't your Adnan Nuggets folks. Disclaimer, love for Konopka and Carkner ahead.
I thought for a while to write about the Turrific (ya, bad. I'm sorry) wrist shot that won us the game last night. Then I thought back a to a little earlier in the game to a thought I had. I said to my buddy. "if the Sens win this game, and even if they don't, no way you can take Konopka and Carkner out of the lineup going back to MSG".
Down the stretch at the end of the regular season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that both Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka had played their last games with the Senators. There simply wasn't room in the lineup for their skill set. We play a puck possession game under MacLean, and they didn't appear to fit in.
After last nights game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarter Final, they have clearly cemented themselves in the lineup. They have been wonderful for the Sens, doing the little things, the simple things, and winning puck battles all over the ice. You would be hard pressed to find a player that skated harder than Zenon Konopka last night. Not only that, but he played 12:07 including 2:59 shorthanded. He was 73% on the draws, easily the best in the game, and won 83% of draws in the Senators defensive zone. His leadership in cooling down Nick Foligno after that late game penalty cannot be overlooked either. If Nick gets an extra 2 minutes there, the game could be over.
Matt Carkner played 12:31 and was very strong in his minutes. He made a wonderful play on the Michalek goal that started the comeback and gave the Senators strong minutes every time he was on the ice.
The reason these guys have played minutes over flashier players is simple: to beat the Rangers, you have to outwork them. You have to go to the dirty areas on the ice, and make simple plays, or risk being exploited by the great defence of the Rangers.
Something that you cannot quantify though, is the effect these guys have on the dressing room and on their teammates. Now personally, like my Nugget predecessor, I enjoy skilled players. However, guys like Carkner, Konopka, and Neil, that will literally go through a wall and bleed for their teammates, help bring a club together. They help set the tone. They cheer on the team when they aren't in the lineup and leave everything on the ice when they do get a chance to play.
I didn't love the Konopka signing in the summer, and I'm not sure if either of these guys will get contracts in the off-season, but right now, the team needs them in the line-up because they are helping them win. You can tell how much they mean to the team. The video in this article by Mark, says it all.
Links after the jump!
Last Night's Game
- Recaps Everywhere!: [SilverSevenSens] [Sens Extra- Warren] [Sun-Garrioch]
- Some post game quotes from some excited Senators [Sens Extra- Mariani]
- Scoring Chances [6th Sens]
- Fun Fact: From Elias: Sens win vs NYR was just the 3rd time in team history they won a playoff gm after trailing by 2 goals. (Phi '03 & Buf '07)
- Allen Panzeri is hopeful Daniel Alfredsson will be good to go with the extra day off. The Senators are off until Saturday. [Gazette-Panzeri]
- Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski heaps some love onto the Kyle Turris overtime winner. [Puck Daddy]
- In keeping with Turris, probably my favourite of all the links today, this article on Sportsnet from Michael Grange details him going from holdout kid to overtime hero. Some really good stuff, including a bit of Mustache love that helped Turris get over missing the tying goal in game 3. This one's a must read. [Grange]
- Short little article from Ken Warren talking about how Calder Cup run experience helps our former Bingo stars in overtime games. [Warren]
- Lastly this Milks article articulates (see what I did there) what I tried to do above much better than I did. This team is a family, and the moments we saw after the Turris goal gave me shivers. [Milks]
- In a wonderful change for this part of Nuggets, no suspensions to speak of! Well, at least until Raffi Torres has his hearing tomorrow. Here's a solid article from one of my favourite twitter follows Bruce Arthur on the Torres incident and how it plays a part in the issues the league is having. [Post-Arthur] A different look at it comes from noted Oilers blogger Tyler Dellows [mc79hockey]
- In keeping with the circus feel of the series, the Penguins and Flyers played in a 10-3 game last night in which each Flyer goalie gave up 5 goals. Just ludicrous. 14 of the top 16 NHL scorers this post season are all from this series. Here is James Mirtle asking whether it will turn the series around. My thinking: It won't. [Globe-Mirtle]
- Another day, another complaint about the referees in these playoffs. This time, Caps owner Ted Leonisis gets in on the fun. [Puck Daddy]
- If a series happens between Florida and New Jersey, does anyone notice? Only (mostly) kidding of course. This series has been more entertaining than expected. Last game saw both goalies chased and the Florida power play help the Panthers claw back from being down 3-0 to winning 4-3. New Jersey looks to even the series tonight.
- Hard to not call this one game of the night after the Torres drama and the 3 consecutive overtime games, but I have another in mind. Phoenix will try to steal another game in the Mad House, but you have to think that the Blackhawks will come out flying. Should be a fun one.
- St. Louis looks to put the stranglehold on the Sharks tonight. This series has been incredibly chippy, but the Blues look like a really legitimate top seed. They are really rolling, with the only loss coming in overtime.
- Game of the Night: Couple good options, but I'm going with Bruins-Capitals game 4. Game three saw a crazy third period with back and forth goals until Chara's winner, but the Caps are really giving the defending champs a good series. Washington will be in tough without Nicklas Backstrom but will come out very desperate. Plus, Dean Brown with the call!