It is finally here. The Senators last played a competitive game 179 days ago in Pittsburgh. Since that game, Jason Spezza has been traded, Ales Hemsky was not re-signed, Jean-Gabriel Pageau demoted, Marc Methot is injured while Patrick Wiercioch, Erik Condra, and Colin Greening will be healthy scratches. Paul MacLean continues to make some baffling decisions with regards to Wiercioch but it is a new season full of hope and fun things. Oh and did I mention Erik Karlsson is now the captain?
Here are the lines and pairings for the Senators from Sylvain St-Laurent.
MacArthur - Turris - Ryan
Michalek - Zibanejad - Chiasson
Smith - Legwand - Stone
Hoffman - Lazar - Neil
Cowen - Karlsson
Phillips - Ceci
Borowiecki - Gryba
Bourque - Ribeiro - Neal
Forsberg - Roy - Smith
Wilson - Jarnkrok - Jokinen
Clune - Gaustad - Nystrom
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Jones
Volchenkov - Ellis
Some notes for tonight:
- Chris Neil is the worst forward on the team and it is unfortunate to see him play over Erik Condra or even Colin Greening. But he is an alternate captain and can't be reasonably expected to be scratched. What's more concerning is MacLean's decision to favour Mark Borowiecki over Patrick Wiercioch.
- Neil aside, the forward lines look pretty good. The Turris line was the number one line last year in practice but now they will be undisputedly be the number one line. Can they continue to thrive this season? Mika Zibanejad will also have to carry the load and provide a secondary scoring option. He could be on the brink of a breakout year and possibly challenging Turris for first line minutes.
- That third line of Smith, Legwand and Stone also looks very promising. Zack Smith wanted more ice time and had to move to the wing to get it. If this line sticks, it would be a huge upgrade on linemates for Smith from last season.
- Curtis Lazar appears like he will get at least nine games to show off his talents. He has a good winger on his left side and hopefully the two can have some chemistry. As far as fourth lines go, it is a pretty good one.
- Jared Cowen surely can't be as much of a trainwreck again right? He seemed half decent in preseason to me. On the other hand, Chris Phillips against NHL second lines seems destined to be a disaster. Marc Methot can't get healthy quick enough. Or Paul MacLean's blood feud with Patrick Wiercioch can't end fast enough.
- I really feel Erik Karlsson is going to be absolutely lights out this year. I could see him shattering the 80-points threshold for the first time in his career and end up in the 85-90 points range. I could be a tad biased though.
- Go Sens! Nothing like the excitement and build up to the first game of the season.
Here are some stats from last season (among players still on the team) for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from War on Ice.
|Goals||Kyle Turris||26||Craig Smith||24|
|Assists||Erik Karlsson||54||Shea Weber||33|
|Points||Erik Karlsson||74||Shea Weber||56|
|Shots||Erik Karlsson||257||Craig Smith||215|
|Average Ice time||Erik Karlsson||27:04||Shea Weber||26:56|
|Corsi Close %||52.19%||8th||49.45%||19th|
|Fenwick Close %||50.77%||13th||50.73%||14th|