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Ottawa Senators Training Camp Check-in: October 2nd

Meaningful games or not, always beat the Habs

NHL: OCT 01 Preseason - Canadiens at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Whether or not it counted for anything, Sens fans needed a bounce-back spiritually after a listless loss to Toronto in their last pre-season outing. So regardless of how unevenly matched these rosters looked, none of us will complain about Ottawa putting up a seven-spot on their other most detested rival. Let’s do it again tonight in front of their fans!

  • In terms of general team observations, Ottawa did well to control the neutral zone and reaped the benefits, largely controlling the shot rates against Montreal. In terms of carrying the puck and disrupting play, by my count Montreal iced the puck six times to Ottawa’s zero. Ottawa’s powerplay looked better by virtue of eliminating the drop pass and having the wingers play on their off hands, and the penalty kill looked much more aggressive sending all four defenders to swarm the puck carrier as opposed to setting up the box and waiting for Montreal to make the first move.
  • Full credit to Matt Murray for an A+ performance on Friday night. Talk about a sight for sore eyes. Murray didn’t succumb to score effects as he still stood tall even with a substantial lead to lean on and stayed pretty aggressive right up until the end. For the most part, Murray stuck to the top of the crease, challenged shooters, and used his stick disruptively. His two goals against (one at even strength and one on the penalty kill) were of the high danger variety. He also looked solid in the shootout. One pre-season game may not count for much but at least Murray has something to build on now heading into the regular season and he’ll need that confidence.
  • Shane Pinto. What else can we say. If he doesn’t make the opening night roster, it will be no fault of his own. Pinto continues to perform as arguably Ottawa’s best forward in the pre-season and if you have Josh Norris, Chris Tierney, and Colin White inked in down the middle then Pinto should absolutely lay claim to the final spot. The coaching staff can arguably continue seasoning Pinto in the minors but he definitely looks NHL-ready. And, of course, leave it to Nick Paul to reveal an extra gear in Pinto’s game. Those two look fantastic together.
  • Should Pinto get assigned to Belleville by the coaching staff and given the possible injuries to Clark Bishop and Parker Kelly, Andrew Agozzino gets my bet for fourth centre. I never would have thought that heading into camp but to his credit, Agozzino has played exceptionally in Ottawa’s pre-season games so far.
  • Also as much as I love to pull for prospects like Egor Sokolov, Cole Reinhardt, and Kelly to crack the NHL roster, I see Tyler Ennis getting another stint in Ottawa. To their credit, the youngsters have arguably outplayed Ennis but you can still see some holes in their games, particularly in terms of offensive instincts. And while they’ve played sound defence, Ennis does boast the full set of tools needed in the NHL. If I had to establish why Ennis hasn’t already locked up his spot on the roster then I’d say he plays true to his size in the sense that bigger defenders can still muscle him off the puck. You can’t fault a guy for being 5’9” though and Ennis still has a lot of jump.
  • Again, even if only a pre-season game, Thomas Chabot looked so good with Artem Zub. With the game well in hand, that pair still hustled on every shift, Chabot looked absolutely zoned in running every powerplay, and both defenders used their creativity at every opportunity to keep Montreal on their heels. The rest of the defense definitely exists. Victor Mete started opening up offensively a bit towards the end of the night and even Michael Del Zotto showed some flashes late of why he could run the second powerplay unit. I’ll leave it at that.

Catch tonight’s game (@ MTL) at 7PM EST on TSN5 and TSN1200