You could truly see a different team dynamic in the Senators during Saturday's 3-2 loss to Detroit. Though the Sens were missing Daniel Alfredsson's offensive ability, there were definitely not missing his leadership or penalty-killing prowess. There were many players that impressed me, and other Sens fans too, I'm sure.
In the leadership department, Jason Smith showed us why Bryan Murray went out of his way to sign the 34-year old. Smith was intimidating the opposition and making life tough for them in front of the Senators' net.
Antoine Vermette played an excellent game, skating like the wind, being crafty and smart with the puck, and even hitting people on occasion. Combined with a smart, subdued game from Chris Kelly, Vermette appeared to kill penalties with ease. Nick Foligno's outstanding goal was merely the evidence of a gritty game well played. His development over the past two seasons has been remarkable and I now consider him an asset on Ottawa's third line.
I really want to get the 'Ruu-tu Ruu-tu' chant going at Scotiabank Place this season because Jarkko Ruutu has been earning his money being the pugilist that Murray signed him to be. He's an asshole, and I think it's helping the team. When my brother asked me if Chris Neil was the goon on the Sens, I told him, "Yeah, he's a goon. But there's some goonier goons now." Remember when Chris Neil was the toughest guy on the Sens roster most nights? Those days are long gone... well, by 3 games.
Top line? Spezz and Heatley were -3 combined and had 1 point (a minor assist for Heatley on the Picard powerplay goal). Are they ineffective without Alfredsson? Yes. Very much so. Time to break those two up, Hartley. Just until Alfie comes back.
Gerber looked pretty good at times, but the critique of his game remains. A soft goal each game, poor rebound control. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I saw several points in the game where he made the save, but didn't know where the puck went in (off or though) his pads.
I'm looking forward to watching this year's Sens all season, because it's far from last year's team. If we actually want to score some goals though, pray for Alfie.