Just about everything about the Ottawa Senators first game of the 2013-14 season looked very much like an exhibition game.
From the broadcast we had the joy of experiencing (a much-appreciated but very poor quality webcast) to the number of passes just ahead of or behind their intended recipients, it was a tough night in the MTS Centre. The good news, though, is the Sens came out on top with a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Ottawa had the lion's share of possession and pressure, but broken plays and lots of traffic combined with missed passes to severely limit the number of actual scoring chances generated.
Given the rosters heading into it, though, you'd expect nothing less: Ottawa dressed eleven NHL veterans, including their top line and defence pairing, while Winnipeg had just seven vets out there. I was expecting a bit more finesse from the Senators, but most of the roster seemed to be calibrating their gears more than pushing offensively.
The only regular-season-quality part of the game was likely the goaltending. Each of Robin Lehner (18 shots, 17 saves), Andrew Hammond (stopped all 10 shots faced), and Michael Hutchinson (29 saves on 32 shots) played solid games (although Hutchinson should probably work on his puckhandling).
There will be no Heroes or Zeros tonight--it's just an exhibition game, after all. I noticed plenty of players tonight, though...
Looked good: Cory Conacher
Made a statement for a spot in the top-six tonight with four shots in just over 13 minutes played, plus some solid forechecking on a line with Mark Stone and Stephane Da Costa. They were Ottawa's second best line offensively, which makes sense since there it consisted of two wingers battling for the same roster spot and Binghamton's top centreman.
Looked good: Mark Stone
Had a statement to make of his own, and made it well. Stone only had one shot, but he was always a presence in front of Hutchinson. His skating was not an issue; in fact, he seemed to be moving around the ice very well.
Looked good: Erik Karlsson
Duh... Karlsson was great. He skated well, had four shots on goal, and finished with two assists. He's Erik Karlsson, everyone. I don't know what his corsi rating was (I doubt they keep track of missed and blocked shots on exhibition play), but I'd wager it was pretty darn high.
Looked good: Andrew Hammond
Although he only played in the third period, Hammond looked good for Ottawa under a bit of late pressure from the Jets. That bodes well for the Binghamton Senators, who're going to need someone to fill the void left by Robin Lehner.
Looked good: Bobby Ryan
Ryan was the best skater on the top line against Winnipeg, getting around the ice very well and setting up a couple of nice plays--and scoring a goal on an absolute laser beam of a shot to the far side's top corner. It's gonna be fun to watch him this season.
Looked good: Buddy Robinson
Does Robinson look big out there, or what? I mean, at 6'5" he is big, but he looks even bigger than the numbers say he should. He was skating well on Sunday night, and he scored a goal doing what he'll be best-suited for: Driving to the net. Doni Brennan was a little over the top suggesting Robinson could earn a roster spot out of training camp this year, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see Buddy play at least one game.
Looked good: Joe Corvo
Made a great second first impression to Sens fans with a couple of shots and a good, calming presence (perhaps surprisingly) on the defensive side of the puck. He was clearly the most experienced defenceman on the ice.
Didn't look good: Michael Sdao
Pretty tough night for the Princeton grad, who gave the puck away on Winnipeg's only goal and suffered a tough loss in his first sort-of-NHL fight. He's got some work to do in Binghamton, but that's okay because they'll need his size down there.
Didn't look good: Matt Kassian
Kassian took a silly penalty early in the game and missed a wide-open game later in the game, so it wasn't a great game for him. But he's still got some time to get his skating and positioning back into regular-season form.
Shot chart: Hahahahahahaha...
Not yet available.