Get well soon, Jason Spezza.
The Senators' season started off with a lack of offense, which is always a scary sign. The lines of Nick Foligno - Mike Fisher - Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek - Peter Regin - Alex Kovalev were not as effective as a fan could hope for, and the reliable third line of Jarkko Ruutu - Chris Kelly - Chris Neil scored Ottawa's lone goal: a beautiful pass from Ruutu to Kelly, who
passed tapped it into an open net. The play was started by some hard work from Neil, who kept the puck free until Ruutu could scoop it up and start the rush.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team could not get much going offensively. That's a real disappointment because they wasted a fantastic effort from thinly veiled Sens Hero (yes, really) Pascal Leclaire. The team started out very strong with a heavy forecheck, but as the game went on, Buffalo took over with a heavy forecheck of their own. Derek Roy scored both Sabres goals through outstanding effort, and Ottawa had their chances (including two late ones for Alfie) but just could not convert.
(read on for Heroes and Zeroes...)
Sens Hero: Pascal Leclaire
That's right. As bad as Leclaire was in the preseason, he appears to have left any worries about his play behind. Easily Ottawa's best player tonight, he started off a little shaky -- the first shot he faced beat him and hit the post. I'll admit to a little worry after that happened, but he visibly gained confidence as the night went on. By the second period, he was tracking the puck through traffic and appeared to erect some kind of magic barrier on the goal line, as repeated scrums in the crease ended with the puck covered or cleared. By the end of the night, he was kicking out saves directly to players starting to break out -- on purpose. There's no doubt he should start tomorrow night, because if he can deliver this level of play every game, the Senators are going to be hard to beat.
Sens Killer: Derek Roy
As mentioned above, Derek Roy was Buffalo's offense tonight. He simply outworked everyone else on the ice, scoring off a nice backhand move, and banking one in off of Leclaire after fighting to get behind the net. Suffice it to say that I don't like him very much.
Sens Hero: Alex Kovalev
Kovalev looked completely healthy, which I found surprising considering how recently he had knee surgery. And not only did he look healthy, he looked strong. At one point he fought off missing link Tyler Myers to feed Regin for a shot on goal. Kovalev created chances out there, and if I had one complaint, it's that he didn't shoot enough. He only registered two shots on goal, and you almost get the sense that he'd rather pass than shoot because he's trying to shed a label of selfishness. He has a really good shot, and he needs to use it.
Sens Zero: Milan Michalek
Milan made good use of his speed in the preseason, but against a quick team like Buffalo he wasn't able to get going. He probably missed Jason Spezza's presence the most, as together, they've shown chemistry flying up the ice. Spezza wasn't available tonight, so the responsibility was Michalek's to create some space on his own. He wasn't up to it. He's got to be better.
Power Play Update: 0-for-5
The team had just one power play in the first period and it looked as good as a power play can look without scoring a goal.
In the second period, it looked about as bad as a power play can look... so, basically, like last year's.
In the third period, it was somewhere in between.
The team is currently tied for last in the league with a 0% success rate on the power play. Gonchar is overrated; let's run him out of town.
In all seriousness, tonight showed that the power play has potential to be better than last year's, but still needs some time to build chemistry. Panicmeter is set at 1.
Don't worry, jerks, there's more hockey tomorrow, as we head to Toronto for a game with a team I'm already sick of.