Craig Anderson's got a new mask. I'm not a fan. I think his mask artwork does a good job of representing his personality (he likes fancy cars) but aesthetically his headwear is a bit busy. I really like his heritage mask though.
Here's what's on my mind.
1. Got to think Eric Gryba has the best chance to secure the sixth and final place on the Sens blueline. Gryba has been out with an injury but Corvo's play has been anything but impressive. Corvo's looked shaky with rookies (particularly Michael Sdao against the Leafs) and hasn't brought much veteran, puck moving presence. Gryba has experience playing with Phillips and during his extended look last season, coach Paul MacLean liked what he saw from the hulking defenseman. Gryba stood out last year on the penalty kill and that should help his cause as well.
2. Jim O'Brien's history illustrates the latitude first round picks get in the NHL. The Sens have long been disappointed with O'Brien's work ethic and while there have been brief glimmers of hope (his 2010-11 season with Bingo, his OT assist on Turris' game winner in the 2012 playoffs, his brief, injury-assisted goal-scoring lead at the start of the 2012-13 season), he's never looked like anything more than an interchangeable fourth liner in the NHL. Can you imagine a second round pick showing as little as O'Brien has over his six years as a Senator and still be with the organization?
3. First it was Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson missing practice for "maintenance days". Next it was Erik Karlsson's "tiredness" on Wednesday night. Then Jason Spezza missed Thursday night's game with a "strain". If the injuries of 2012-13 and the subsequent remarkable recovers showed us anything, it's that this organization doesn't tell the full story about injuries.
In general, I don't believe that players are injury prone, but NHL teams still approach players with chronic or recurring health issues carefully. The organizational tendency not to disclose accurate health information will be tough for fans as Michalek's chronic knee problems and Spezza's back/general health issues will probably lead to a lot of "maintenance days". Missing occasional practices was expected and accepted for someone Alfredsson's age in seasons past. Will it be accepted this season, or will fans and members of the media use Spezza's absences to question his leadership abilities?
4. The Leafs-Sabres preseason brawl has had reverberations throughout the league. Suspensions for two of Toronto's significant players, a fine for Sabres coach Ron Rolston, and a roster move by the Edmonton Oilers. Some Sens fans wondered if this meant more playing time for Matt Kassian this season. What it got me thinking about was Tim Murray. The Kassian talk as well as the reading I did for my recent Bryan Murray piece has made me wonder what we know of heir apparent Tim Murray's managerial style.
He's worked with his uncle Bryan for most of the past two decades and the two must have a similar philosophical approach to building a contender for their professional relationship to have worked for so long. If I had to guess, I would say the Sens will be employing enforcers for the foreseeable future.
5. Bobby Ryan's conditioning is probably fine. I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV but team officials have said they're happy with his fitness and that works for me. I think there are some players who have size and skill but get criticized because they don't play a certain type of game. This has happened to stars like Frank Mahovlich and Mats Sundin in the past. Bobby Ryan isn't a power forward in the Cam Neely mold but some in Ottawa want him to be.