Sunday, September 21, 2008

Welcome NOT your Ottawa Senators

Watching last night's pre-season game against the New York Rangers from waaaayyy up in section 323 at Scotiabank Place, I constantly had to check my program to find out who was on the ice. 73? Rutuu. 18? Winchester. 30? Brian Elliot.

In all my days of being a Sens fan, I've never had such a tough time figuring out who was on the ice, their position, and their place on the team.

Let's start with Handsome Dany Heatley plus two. In this case, the two are Jason Spezza (no surprise there), and Jesse Winchester, who Peter adamently denies is Brandon Bochenski in disguise. Whatever Winchester's true identity, the winger did an okay job on the top line finishing the game even in +/- and had 16 minutes of ice time including six and a half minutes on the powerplay.

I didn't see anything remarkable from Winchester other than one excellent scoring opportunity wherein he lost control of the puck while crossing through the Rangers crease and got off a weak backhander.

Brian Elliot (The Big E? Smelly Ellie?) looked very good in the third period. On his first two shots, he didn't give up a rebound and the 23 year-old seemed to move through the crease comfortably. The breakaway goal that he allowed did make him look like a stiff chump though.

The player that had me checking my scorecard most often was Filip Kuba. Kuba and Alexandre Picard, both acquired in the Andre Meszaros deal from earlier this month, led the Senators defence in ice time. Undoubtedly, this was for the coaches and management to see as much of the new recruits as possible. Kuba, Picard, and Brian Lee ran the powerplay competently (though Lee seemed somewhat uncomforable on the right point on the PP), giving hope that the Sens can run the man advantage by committee this season.

Though I kept an eye out for Jarkko Ruutu throughout the game, he didn't seem to be in pest mode for most of the game. More often, it was Heatley and Phillips who were aggrevating the Rangers. I guess I will reserve judgement for another game.

The Sens sat many regulars in this game. Volchenkov, Kelly, McAmmond, and Donovan did not dress, giving the young guns the chance to show their stuff. Even with those players in the lineup, it's easy to see that the Senators are far from the same team as last year, and any expectations (and accompanying stupid articles) you may have for this season should be left at the door come Oct. 4.
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