Hey, did you guys know Colin Greening is from Newfoundland?
Many of you likely did not get a chance to see the start of this 4:00 game between the Ottawa Senators (B team) and the Winnipeg Jets, and trust me, your heart is better off because of it. If not for the stellar play of Alex Auld, this game would have been a laugher before the first period even ended, as the Sens were outshot 16-6 through 20 (no need to adjust your monitors, you read it correctly).
By some miracle, the score was 0-0 after 20 minutes, and the game looked like it was going to be a snoozer. Before the ice had even dried in the second, Mark "Making Pundits Everywhere Look Stupid" Scheifele had banged home a rebound to make it 1-0 (HIS 5TH OF THE PRESEASON PEOPLE). Troy Bodie took a feed from Patrice Cormier and converted it to make the score 2-0, and at the end of the second period, the Sens had managed barely a dozen shots, and it was pitiful.
The end of the second period brought about some antics from Chris Neil. Love him or hate him (or make fun of him and have him score twice against Montreal), its obvious he is willing to do anything to give the team energy, and so he fought to try to energize the team.
It seemed to work as the third period was easily the most enjoyable from a Sens point of view. Mika Zibanejad scored a nice goal on the powerplay, which was followed by more pressure on a second powerplay, before Ben Maxwell's dagger ended the game with six minutes remaining.
Jump with me for Sens Heros, and Killers, and one Senator I cannot make my mind up about!
Sens Hero: Jared Cowen: While the stat line would tell you Jared Cowen was a minus two today, do not let it fool you. Jared continued his incredible push for an opening day roster spot with a great performance. He was physical and used his long reach in the defensive zone, and showed confidence and good instincts at the offensive end. He had one glaring turnover to Evander Kane, but used incredible speed to catch the speedster AND break up the play. Very impressive today, especially once Chris Phillips left the game in the third with back pain.
Sens Hero: Mika Zibanejad: Mikachu REALLY turned up the volume in the third period, and scored a beauty goal, but really seemed to be making things happen offensively when it mattered most. He shows a tendency to go to the net and put his big frame in front of the goaltender on the powerplay, and it benefited the unit that was put together today. He also made several nice plays on the defensive side of the puck, showing the strength of his two-way game.
Sens Hero: Paulrus Maclean: While he did the nice thing and gave Colin Greening a chance to play first line minutes in front of his hometown crowd, once it became apparent that there was no chemistry to be found with Greening, Zibanejad and Alfie, he changed things up. He put together a unit of Hoffman-Zibanejad-Alfie that was simply lights out, and controlled play for the third period and the powerplays in the third. While it was too little too late, it was a great move.
Sens Hero: Alex Auld: As alluded to in the summary, if not for Auld, this game ends without it ever being close. Shame he left with leg cramps, but Mike McKenna looked alright in relief.
Sens Killer: Mark Scheifele: This kid was all over the ice making things happen tonight. I would be shocked if he doesn't stick with the Jets this season. He has a great frame and great hands.
Your Call: David Rune-da-blad: Aside from the hilarity that ensued from Bob Cole attempting his name, the game of Magic Number Seven absolutely perplexed me today. As much as he was amazing in flashes offensively today, particularly on the second powerplay of the third period, he was equally awful at points in the defensive end. Too many times I found myself saying "Oh no, David!" (to which I got weird looks, because, well, it sounds like I'm talking to myself.) More than anything, this game showed me David Rundblad needs AHL seasoning. He's almost there, but needs some more work, and I hope he's receptive to fixing some of his deficiencies on this side of the pond.