Looks like the Senators were saving their goals for one big outburst on Scotiabank Place ice. After only three goals for in the first three pre-season games, Ottawa scored early and often en route to a 6-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens--and that was without Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, or Daniel Alfredsson in the lineup.
The line of Peter Regin in the middle of Nick Foligno and Mike Fisher, the latter playing the wing in an experiment that seems to have worked upon first impression. The three combined for 11 points on the night (Fisher: 3G, 1A; Regin 1G, 2A; Foligno 4A), and routinely hemmed the Habs defenders in their zone for shifts at a time. And holy smokes, they combined for 12 of Ottawa's 23 shots: Regin had six, Fisher had five, and Foligno had a single.
The other big line was with Ryan Shannon trying his hand at centre between Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo. Kovalev scored the opening goal short-handed and added an assist. Seems like the Shannon line would be more a 2A line, used in certain situations and with plenty of special-teams time, while the Regin line could very well pull off 2B status; a checking line stacked up against the opposition's big line, wearing them down and backchecking like the Dickens.
And those three aforementioned big guys who didn't play Saturday night would be the top line, one would assume.
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Ottawa's other goal came from Josh Hennessy, who has had a quiet but solid training camp so far. He played just over ten minutes in the game, mostly fourth-line minutes with Mike Hoffman and Shean Donovan. Not that he couldn't be useful in Ottawa, but I just don't see a place for Hennessy on the Sens' roster. Donovan, on the other hand, continues to be an asset to the team. He won't play much, and won't do a lot (offensively, at least) on the scoresheet, but he'll stand up for anyone and he's got to be popular in the dressing room. He stood up to a Canadien who had taken liberties with Cheechoo, and got in a fight later in the game against Ryan O'Byrne. He's cheap, he's a veteran, he's popular, and he's great in the city. Even if it means Zack Smith has to play another year in Bingo, Donovan's earned his spot.
Ottawa's defencemen played a quiet game. Erik Karlsson, who played with Filip Kuba, was pretty awesome; his skating ability is stronger than any Senators' defenceman I can recall. He's got the quickness of Joe Corvo and the fluidity of Wade Redden, plus a pretty great shot. Yeah, we all know he's undersized, but I'm sure he'll be fine once he gets a better hang of the game. Kuba was reliable, a good complement to Karlsson, and the only Sens' defenceman to notch a point in the game.
Matt Carkner surprised me with his reliability on defence. He's not quick, but he can defend just fine. Derek Smith wasn't very noticeable, but he was, again, reliable. Chris Phillips got lots of ice time (22+ minutes), including a fair shake on the powerplay, and he actually looked pretty good with the man advantage. Maybe he worked on his passing or something over the summer. Anton Volchenkov rounded out the d-corps, but he only played 12 minutes and left some time in the third (I think) with a lower-body injury. (Apparently Ottawa brass is already in playoff form in terms of injury disclosure.) Luckily, word is it's nothing too serious.
Finally, Pascal Leclaire got the whole 60 minutes, and did well with it. He wasn't consistently tested, and only faced 23 shots altogether, but there were a few times when he had to come up big for the Senators. A particular left-pad save while Ottawa was short-handed was particularly impressive, and it reassures me to know he's still got that flexibility to his game.
It was nice to see an exciting game, honestly. Reassuring, too. And the fact that there might be another option on the offence makes me happy--if other guys can't seem to find their scoring touch, maybe Regin, Fisher, and Foligno will step up, and our fate won't rest entirely on the top line.
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