The Ottawa Senators took down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime last night on the back of a two-goal performance from Jakob Chychrun, and a goal and an assist from Dominik Kubalik. One of Chychrun's tallies was the game winner:7
The victory was the second in two nights for the Sens over the Leafs, and while I'm typically loath to draw any firm conclusions from the preseason, it must be said: the Sens are winning the CUP!
Hyperbole and jokes aside, there were still plenty of encouraging signs:
-Before the start of training camp, coach DJ Smith expressed that Thomas Chabot and Jakob Chychrun would likely start the season together on the team's nominal top pair. Last night was our first real taste of the duo in action, and the results were mostly pretty good – all while playing a fair chunk of minutes against the Auston Matthews line and starting many shifts in the defensive zone. Besides Chychrun's two goals, the pair also got the better of the Leafs in shots and chances when they were on the ice, and generally moved the puck effectively. Were there a couple of sketchy moments defensively? Yes, but that's to be expected given the players in question. My personal take on the pairing is that it has the potential to be very effective but high event; they're going to generate a lot of chances, but they're going to give some up, too. Contrast that with the decidedly low event brand of hockey we are expecting from the Jake Sanderson and Artem Zub pairing. Get ready for the stylistic whiplash, friends!
-Roby Järventie looked comfortable alongside Mathieu Joseph and Dominik Kubalik. His give-and-go with Kubalik before snapping home a goal less than two minutes into the game was a helpful reminder that he possesses skills that might one day yet translate to the NHL:
-To hear folks around the team tell it, Ridly Greig has taken a big step forward this off-season and is primed to grab a spot on the main roster out of training camp. To my eye he looked solid if unspectacular last night centering Drake Batherson and Vladimir Tarasenko. With Shane Pinto still unsigned, it's looking increasingly likely he could start the year as the team's third line centre.
-Mads Søgaard was impressive, turning aside 36 of 39 shots in the win. One of the highlights was this penalty shot save against Easton Cowan:
Søgaard will start the year in the AHL but performances like last night give us hope for what's yet to come.
-Tarasenko looked mostly "fine" to me. I'm not going to put a lot of stock in one preseason game for a player with as long, and decorated, a track record as his, but there were enough good moments to keep me satisfied for now.
-Oh yeah, I almost forgot to clip Chychrun's first goal. Say whatever else you want about him as a player but Chychrun can absolutely wire a wrister:
Some other miscellaneous notes from around camp:
-Michael Andlauer appeared on TSN1200 yesterday morning. Bruce Garrioch wrote up his appearance, and included a couple of key quotes that I found refereshing to say the least:
Andlauer said at his ATS Healthcare facility in Toronto, he’s an employee-first leader and, in his role with the Senators, he’ll be the same with the players.
“I’m a player-first owner in hockey. To me, it’s about providing the tools to be successful and, if I give you the tools to be successful, then I can hold you accountable in all facets,” Andlauer said. “Whether it be the players, the equipment manager, the coaches or the GM
Andlauer also mentioned in his interview that the subject of Smith's future was discussed with Pierre Dorion and that he had told the GM it was up to Dorion to decide. For now at least, Smith has the confidence of the team.
-The coaching staff's choice to give each goalie a full game when they start means that Sens fans have yet to see Joonas Korpisalo in action. Expect that to change on Wednesday, and for Travis Hamonic and Erik Brännström, the clubhouse leaders to open the season as the third pair, to also make their way into the lineup for the first time.