It's finally here. Well, sort of. The NHL preseason is underway and we are so close to the regular season I can smell it. It smells like a clean slate and blind optimism.
1) Start of preseason
We can discuss players who have impressed us and players who have under performed for days, and later in this article, but can we just start off by saying this: How awesome is it to watch hockey again? Whether it's the voice of Stuntman Stu, Dean Brown or the revered CTC goal horn, the sweet sounds of the NHL are back, and it's a thing of beauty.
2) Preseason cuts
Of course, with the preseason, comes the first round of training camp cuts. The Senators wasted no time after the first few games, and reduced their roster on Thursday. There were no big surprises, but the biggest name to get sent down was Shane Prince. With Curtis Lazar and Matt Puempel having pretty good training camps so far, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Prince got chopped.
Now that the rookies who basically everyone knew weren't going to make the main squad have gone home, we can start to get a better idea of what the team is going to look like this season.
3) Bobby Ryan
No, we are not going to talk about Bobby Ryan's contract negotiations... well, not primarily.
Regardless of where Ryan's contract negotiations are at this point, there is one thing we can all agree on, this guy looks good. He put up two goals (three points) in the game against Toronto, and looked much like the Bobby Ryan we know and love from early last season.
(Ok, negotiation talk for a minute) We all know that Ryan wants to wait until the season starts before getting a deal done, most likely so he can increase his value a bit by putting up big numbers. If these first few games are any indication of what Ryan looks like when playing for a contract, we have a few very exciting months ahead of us!
I mean come on... look at him!
4) Senators Fan Fest
Other than preseason, the leaves turning colour and Torontonians planning a parade route, what else could possibly indicate that we are mere days away from the return of NHL hockey? Fan Fest!
If you're in Ottawa on Saturday, thinking to yourself "where on earth can I get a Kyle Turris Bobblehead?", the Ottawa Senators have a solution for you.
That's right. On Saturday, at the Canadian Tire Centre, you can get your very own Kyle Turris Bobblehead. If ever there was a better reason to make the trip to Ottawa, I haven't heard it.
5) Notable players so far
Ok, back to preseason (are you sick of preseason talk yet?). While hockey fans are known to put a little too much weight behind preseason, it's hard not to discuss how players look so far. After all, we are all seriously hockey deprived. We deserve to talk about it in any way that we can.
As I previously noted, I have been mighty impressed with the play of Bobby Ryan. While it should come as a shock to no one that he's good at hockey, it's great to see him rebound from last season's hernia surgery. Ottawa, he's coming back hot!
Ryan's entire line looked amazing on Wednesday night. Turris and MacArthur have assumed their role alongside Ryan as Ottawa's deadliest line. Barring injury, this line looks like they'll pick up where they left off last season.
As far as the young guns go, and yet another not-so-shocking revelation, Matt Puempel looked great. Puempel managed to get a goal against Toronto. It may not have been a pretty one, but in a one-goal game, it clearly made a difference.
Also, Alex Chiasson and Milan Michalek carried the team pretty well in Toronto. He's only a few games in, but it will be interesting to see how Chiasson plays with the added pressure of being in a Canadian market, with an entire fan base eagerly awaiting to see if he was worth their captain.
Players who have gone virtually unnoticed: Chris Neil and Colin Greening. Both of whom have roster spots locked down. Le sigh.
Which players have impressed you (or let you down) the most this preseason?
It's not the regular season, and much is going to change before we see this team take its final shape, but it's hard not to get excited to finally say these words... Say it with me, Sens fans... Hockey is back!