Monday, September 22, 2008

Rangers 2, (B-)Sens 1

The Sens dressed a scoring-challenged lineup, leaving Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, and Mike Fisher all out for the final half of the home-and-home against the New York Rangers. It showed. The Sens only managed 22 shots, including 10 in the third, and lost the game by a 2-1 score that looked better than it was (thanks to the Sens' goalies). Another sloppy game brings the Sens' pre-season record to 1-1.

The biggest storyline might be Wade Redden playing his first game against his old team. It's about what you'd expect: He was on for all three goals, and--although not being tagged for any giveaways--he (apparently, I didn't see it) didn't look good on the Sens' only goal.

For Ottawa, everyone was talking about Alex Auld getting a chance to impress coach Craig Hartsburg, and impress he did tonight. As good as Martin Gerber looked on Saturday night, Auld was challenged more often, and usually met those challenges (although he had some help from the posts). Of the two goals, the first was weak, but the second was a tip after the Sens weren't able to clear the puck. In fact, I'd blame the second goal on Antoine Vermette, who had a golden shooting opportunity but tried to deke, got smoked, lost the puck, and had it come up the ice until the Rangers were able to put it past Auld. I didn't get to see Jeff Glass, but he stopped all eight shots he faced, so couldn't have been too bad.

The Sens' best forward was probably Nick Foligno, who caused a few turnovers and played a strong game. Close after was Dean McAmmond, who scored the Sens' only goal, and also caused quite a few turnovers. With the log-jam at forward, McAmmond needed to show something in the pre-season, and he did a pretty good job tonight. On a line with D-Mac was Brad Isbister, and there appeared to be some reasonable chemistry between the two--but don't hold you breath for Isbister to make the team. Finally, Ilya Zubov had a great scoring chance, and--according to the official scoresheet--threw three hits. The Sens' best hit was Jarkko Ruutu on Brandon Dubinsky, an open-ice collision that knocked Doobie off the puck.

On defence, Brendan Bell looked better than I'd expected, and certainly made a case for himself. I would be surprised if he's in the round of cuts tomorrow. Luke Richardson looked pretty good, too, playing 17 minutes, including some penalty-kill time. Still, Richardson still has a way to go, but he might travel to Sweden as part of the roster.

On the other side of the ledger, Brian Lee has something to prove. He got beat on a breakaway tonight, and had to tak a penalty and rely on a great Auld pokecheck to prevent a goal. But then he got an assist, and, although I didn't see the goal, that's got to mean something. Also, Ryan Shannon was certainly exposed as the undersized player he is. Although he had some opportunities, he rarely if ever was able to win a battle, and was often muscled off the puck.

So a bunch of cuts will come tomorrow morning, probably at least a dozen, maybe 16 players will head to the Binghamton training camp. Next game will be on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers in Ottawa; the Flyers won on Monday night 4-1. The Sens should dress a lineup that will look a lot like the one they'll start the regular season with, so stay tuned tomorrow morning.
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