Although it isn't the start that Bryan Murray and co. would've liked, many young Senators got valuable playing time against mostly NHL competition last night vs. the Leafs.
The two games started off nicely juxtaposed, with the Leafs going up early in Toronto and the Sens doing the same in Ottawa, before the eventual OT loss of the latter group. I tried to watch as much of both games as I could (thanks, split-screen TV!) and put together some rough, preliminary thoughts on a few of the players that were trying to make an impression on the organization.
First, to stir some stuff up:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Scouts working <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sens?src=hash">#Sens</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Leafs?src=hash">#Leafs</a> in Ottawa include <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Avs?src=hash">#Avs</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hawks?src=hash">#Hawks</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Oilers?src=hash">#Oilers</a>.</p>— Murray Pam (@Pammerhockey) <a href="https://twitter.com/Pammerhockey/status/646099388897624064">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Before we begin, check out the Gameday Journal from the Senators official website for the game preview, lineups, and more.
- the team was sloppy early, with two quick penalties putting starting goaltender Craig Anderson to task early. Despite letting in two goals, Anderson looked positionally sound and really looked like he tried to be more efficient in his movement the entire night. Both goals against were screens/tips. Matt O'Connor was in net for the last two goals against, and faced roughly the same amount of work as Anderson in terms of pressure. O'Connor had the save of the night near the end of the second by sticking out his pad after moving quickly to his right to stone Curtis Glencross.
- On D: Erik Karlsson was in usual form and looked like he was out for a morning skate while putting up three points (1G, 2A), none better than the slick pass below to Shane Prince for the game's first goal. His D partner, Thomas Chabot, is likely bound to Saint John for another QMJHL year. He's looked really sound with Karlsson thus far, and put up two assists last night. Before you get too excited, it's important to remember that these are just preseason games with teams not really set-up into systems yet. It does bode well that the young 1st rounder is showing both his offensive and defensive skills this offseason. On the other end of the spectrum, Jared Cowen had another rough night. He started the first period pretty well, but it still doesn't look like he can put together a bunch of consistent shifts. I'm sure some of this is just because he's out of game shape, but when a player is outworked down low consistently or can't make quick decisions with the puck, it worries me.
- Max McCormick + Eric O'Dell, two hopefuls for eventual 4th line action in the NHL, were regular PKers tonight. Expect both to see time on the PK in Binghamton, mainly because that's a role they'd have to play if they ever made it to Ottawa. Re: McCormick, see a couple of interesting thoughts below. Shane Prince was the star of the night as far as the forwards are concerned, as the winger led the team in possession by having good puck protection in the offensive zone, and good effort in the defensive zone. Prince is a slick skater, with extremely strong agility down low that makes him a good forechecker to retrieve pucks in the offensive zone for players who like to wait up high. Chris Neil (!) also looked like he made changes to his game, as he looked a lot faster (but slow in comparison to Prince). He skated the puck into the offensive zone numerous times, whereas he'd usually dump it in, and made an active effort to use his teammates in the offensive zone instead of just looking for things to hit.
- While the Sens won the even-strength possession battle in Ottawa, the Leafs were very strong in Toronto, holding the Sens to only 27 shot attempts. This meant a LOT of work for Andrew Hammond, who had a tougher night than the other Sens goalies, before things quieted down in the third for Chris Driedger.
- The defense didn't show well as a group, with Borowiecki - Harpur faring the worst out of the three pairings. It was so much so that despite the team wanting to give Wiercioch - Ceci first pair minutes, they finished with two minutes less than Borowiecki - Harpur, mainly due to how much the latter got stuck in the defensive zone for an extended period of time. They were on ice for 23 shot attempts against, which is close to how many Ottawa had the entire game. Wiercioch - Ceci looked a bit nervous too. Really good in the offensive zone, as always, and on the powerplay as they manned the umbrella with either Mike Hoffman or Mika Zibanejad, but they looked slow to make decisions in the defensive zone.
- The best player on the night was Mike Hoffman, who was on the ice for 18 of Ottawa's 27 shot attempts. The team didn't generate anything if Hoffman - Paul - Chiasson wasn't on the ice, as the trio put in work in the offensive zone. Hoffman and Chiasson still left something to be desired defensively, whereas Nick Paul looked impressive down low with an active stick. Matt Puempel only got 9 minutes of ice-time alongside Chlapik and Stortini, which is confusing for me as the team should be trying to give him every opportunity to play alongside NHL talent to show his worth instead of sticking Mika Zibanejad with AHLers. He was noticeable in the first, and had a scoring chance generated by pure effort right when Prince scored in the other game, but was absent after that. You kinda feel for the guy when your main competition is playing 15 minutes a night and receiving passes from Erik Karlsson.
- The Sens invited a bunch of bloggers into the Canadian Tire Centre for a media tour and a look at the new upgrades. Michaela and Ian attended, and produced two pieces. The first on the tour, and the second featuring interviews with Sens AGMs Randy Lee + Pierre Dorion. Kevin Lee, of Sens Summer Fan Fest fame, also attended and compiled his thoughts over at SensNation. [Silver Seven I, Silver Seven II, SensNation]
- Alfie is home again. The team announced that Daniel Alfredsson's official role is Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations. [Silver Seven, 6th Sens, SensChirp, Ottawa Citizen]
- As the Senators start to spend some more money on players, staff, and infrastructure, Luke ponders it in context with the 'internal budget'. I've also linked the referral column from the Citizen that talks about the infrastructure investments in detail ($15M!!!!) [WTYKY, Ottawa Citizen]
- We continue our look at 'keys to the Senators success,' with Trevor looking at the lynchpin of the second-pair, Cody Ceci. [Silver Seven]
- Here's your "start-of-training-camp-coverage" articles from the Citizen. The first is on what Dave Cameron wants to do differently with his first full chance to make the changes he finds necessary, the second is on increased expectations due to the strong finish from last season, and the third is on the young players entering camp wanting to prove themselves. [Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Citizen II, Ottawa Citizen III]
- Nichols putting in work, with his ever-reliable transcript of Pierre Dorion's recent radio spot on training camp, Chabot, and O'Connor. [6th Sens]
- As you know, Luke attended the recent Sens rookie tournament and recorded a podcast with Chet for us. He also compiled his thoughts over at WTYKY. [WTYKY]
- Two players that need to prove themselves this season? Chris Neil and Jared Cowen. Both have shown up "fitter than ever" -- we'll soon see whether that ends up making a difference. [Ottawa Citizen - Neil, Ottawa Citizen - Cowen]
- News broke earlier this week that the Senators may consider hosting an outdoor game on Parliament Hill. Brad has a column on whether that can actually work. [TSN, Silver Seven, 6th Sens, SensChirp]
- NHL16 came out earlier this week! Did any of you pick it up? Rob has a review over at Bonk's Mullet. [Bonk's Mullet]
- Peter Levi touches on NHL16 and a lot more in his weekly news + notes column. [Eye on the Sens]
- It was your turn to vote! See how your peers ranked the Top 25 Sens players under the age of 25. [Silver Seven]
- Here are a ton of really good reads on the Patrick Kane situation. I tried to think critically when choosing these pieces among the dearth of stuff on the topic, so I hope you give them a read. [Sporting News, Other Half Sports, Jen LC, Travis Yost]
- On this topic: you'll notice that many of the pieces linked come from bloggers or non-MSM sources. This is because we need a LOT more from our national writers when they choose to cover sensitive topics. [Jewels from the Crown, Graphic Comments]
- Elliotte Friedman's 30 thoughts column returns. Not anything Sens related, but a good read to catch up on league happenings. [Sportsnet]
- Two more from Travis Yost, on effective NHL d-men (hi Karlsson!) and the importance of controlling ice-time (hi again, Karlsson!) [TSN on D, TSN on ice-time]
- Steve Dangle was behind the scenes at the NHL media tour. It's a pretty funny video into the personalities of the people involved in something like this. [Sportsnet]
- Auston Matthews has scored in each of his games in the NLA so far. Yeah... he's still going first overall. [TSN]
- For any Olympics fans: avoid the rowing events in Rio.. [AP]
- The Canadian Basketball team (Men's + Women's) have been making headlines recently as they rise in world rankings. The Men's team was close to qualifying to Rio, until this happened. [Sportsnet]
- A fantastic tennis piece on the recently-finished U.S. Open [NYTimes]