I've been whining alot about our lack of depth on defence since Rundblad got dealt. Well, help is on the way.
The Sensplex was jammed to the rafters, and the only spot I could find where I could see anything was directly behind the net. This proved to be a pretty unique perspective to watch our defence prospects play from.
I decided to talk mostly about guys that impressed me, and limit the negative comments, because it's REALLY EARLY.
The two stars of the game were Wiercoch and Ceci who were incredibly solid in breaking up the play, winning the battles along the boards and moving the puck. Their pinpoint passing lead the white team to control the play and be very dominant.
Now we get to the surprises. Michael Sdao and Bryce Aneloski were solid when Wiercoch and Ceci weren't double-shifting. Sdao is tough as nails... supposedly a future enforcer, but I saw some defensive and puck-moving talent that I didn't know existed. I heard one of the Sens brass talking about Sdao a while ago as being one of the surprises to watch.
Then there were the goalies. The White team swarmed Lehner for most of the first period, and he didn't give them anything... He looked intent on proving that he belongs at Scotia Bank Place this year, and he was spectacular.
The other surprise was our new goalie Chris Drieger, and he was standing directly in front of us for most of the game. He's big and he has this unique quick thing he does where he inches towards the shooter for a split second just as they are shooting and then returns back to his position. Alot of goalies do this, but I just loved the speed he did it with, and the accuracy of his angle-cutting. This move closed off the corners and the high shots. I noticed how much deeper Brassard plays in the net and he got burned alot in the warmup because of it.
The biggest surprise of all was the play of Z'jad, and this is not good news. He came up the ice for the most part by himself, and was easily stopped by the defence because all of his play was individual. He looks like he has miles to go to learn the North American game, which was my biggest fear of his playing in the SEL last year. If he can't dominate playing against largely AHL and ECHL competition, then how can we expect him to play top six?
I'm not down on Z'jad... just realistic that he will take alot more time for him to develop than most of us thought... and he will be a good one because he's so big and so talented. He's got to learn how to use his teammates and that takes time.
None of the forwards stood out. Puempel made one of the neatest and craftiest steals of the night. Stone looked like he still has a long way to go on his skating. But for the most part, the forwards got outshined by the dmen I mentioned and the goalies.
I like the way that the Sens brass setup this game... testing Borowieki and Ceci together against Z'jad, Puempel and Noesen.
Jordan Fransoo took a puck in the face and bled alot. Does anyone know if he's OK?