The final countdown continues with just two more exhibitions games for the Ottawa Senators against the accursed Montreal scum (this time on friendly Maritime confines). I’ll try to avoid recapping last night’s victory over the scabs because most of you probably watched the game or the highlights by now. In summary, the scoreboard ended up too close for comfort but I found it reassuring that that Ottawa won the nerd stats battles handily. Despite all the personnel changes and the fact that the regular season has yet to begin, things still got somewhat acrimonious between these rivals and Ottawa held their ground on the wrong end of the penalty margin.
- They only got one look on the powerplay but the big kids in Ottawa only needed 30 seconds convert with Shane Pinto and Claude Giroux finding Alex DeBrincat:
- By all accounts, Anton Forsberg had another perfectly cromulent start last night. He hasn’t played exceptionally in the preseason but he also hasn’t cost the team much. With the injury to Cam Talbot, Forsberg has his role sewn up either way so we’ll have to see how the backup situation shakes out in Ottawa and how that affects the starting job in Belleville. Mads Søgaard hasn’t necessarily thrived in the preseason in Ottawa so it seems pretty cut and dry for me to have Ottawa’s goalie of the future starting in Belleville where he has the best chance to succeed.
- The sixth and/or seventh defensive spots presumably remain up-for-grabs in Ottawa without any added clarity after last night’s game (as Nikita Zaitsev and Jacob Bernard-Docker sat out). I would undoubtedly have JBD on my opening-night roster based on the nerdy numbers like relative even strength corsi- and expected goals-for rates (small sample of preseason hockey noted). So far Bernard-Docker has hovered right around Thomas Chabot in those columns, and ahead of his competition. Forever Ottawa’s strongest powerplay defender, Erik Brännström has also played stifling defence on the penalty kill this preseason (one of the few areas where JBD has struggled).
- While it goes against every fibre in my body as a prospect-guy, I really dig the idea of Derick Brassard carving out a role on this team. Besides his reputation as a very good human being, he has played some solid hockey this pre-season and he seems to have a lot more in the tank than I had anticipated. This makes the battle for those 12th and 13th forward spots all the more intriguing. To the surprise of no one I also think Jayce Hawryluk has performed perfectly well in his second stint as an Ottawa Senator.
- Not that we needed a tonne of convincing, but Shane Pinto really added to his own case for the opening-night roster in yesterday’s win. While not in the same stratosphere as Pinto in the Sens system, Parker Kelly and Mark Kastelic have added plenty of value killing penalties, and Kelly has also held his head above water at even strength. I wouldn’t hesitate to send Kastelic to Belleville based on the numbers game because he’ll still get called up this season at some point and the extra reps on the farm won’t hurt. I don’t think Ottawa will find a better fourth-line option than Kelly though and he has earned a roster spot in my humble opinion.
- In terms of actual concrete roster updates, Viktor Lodin will head back to Belleville for the time being (I wouldn’t expect many more cuts today with two road games remaining):