The Ottawa Senators wrapped up their East Coast adventure with a decisive 3-0 win over Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams icing lineups close(ish) to what they'll have opening night, the Sens and Pens put on a show for the Halifax hockey fans on Monday.
We'll do a quick run of the game before getting to the very discussable roster decisions.
- Joonas Korpisalo was easily the star of the game for either team, stopping all 40 shots he faced and helping the Senators kill off six different minor penalties. The latest addition to Ottawa's crease was steady and calculated, moving well within his crease and steering pucks out of danger. If this is the goaltender Ottawa gets more often than not, look out.
- While it's a preseason game and we don't need to worry too much about it, the officiating was rather one-sided last night. It sure felt like the zebras wanted the pride of Cole Harbour to win the game, as they gave them six opportunities with the advantage. On the other side, not a single Penguin made a trip to the sin bin. I'm sure the officials weren't thrilled with the perfect game Ottawa's penalty kill put forth. This one - where the refs didn't put their hands up until they saw Ottawa going 2-0 the other way - was my favourite:
- The Sens rolled out what is expected to be their opening night lineup on the blueline tonight, with Thomas Chabot, Jake Chychrun, Jake Sanderson and Artem Zub rounding out the top four. Erik Brännström took a spin with his likely partner, Travis Hamonic, who was deployed properly as Ottawa's sixth defender.
- Ridly Greig opened the scoring, continuing a strong preseason performance while skating as a likely placeholder for Josh Norris. The line of Greig, Drake Batherson and Vladimir Tarasenko was great at even strength, pouring on a ton of pressure and, of course, getting the party going with Greig's snipe.
- Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stützle (empty net) were the other two goal scorers, while Claude Giroux, Tarasenko, Sanderson and Batherson contributed helpers.
ICMYI: It needs to be reshared. I loved everything about Egor Sokolov being mic'd up in Cape Breton. If you didn't see it, here it is. If you did, here it is again.
Back where young big Soky was slingin' it around.
Interesting Days Ahead
Over the next few days, the Senators are reportedly spending some time on the east coast with team activities and a practice before a date with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. I think I speak for all Sens fans - and I even know at least one Leafs fan - when I say I really hope we see Josh Norris' name appear on the lineup that night. After all, the Senators have just two more games before they head to Carolina next Wednesday to kick off the 2023-24 season.
Following last night's win, the Senators further shrunk their roster as they inch closer to the regular season. The team sent Kevin Mandolese, Tyler Kleven, Nikolas Matinpalo, Zack Ostapchuk and Cole Reinhardt to Belleville to join the BSens camp, which opened this week. You can add Matthew Highmore and Jacob Larsson as players who will be placed on waivers and head to Belleville, should they clear.
In more surprising news, he says nervously, the Sens placed Jacob Bernard-Docker and Egor Sokolov on waivers, which means they'll hit waivers today at 2:00PM EST and will learn if either player was claimed on Wednesday, same time. That is going to create some... interesting conversations. Might want to stay off the web.
It looks to me like Pierre Dorion and his team have decided actually winning a spot is more important than where you were drafted and the clock has run out for both Lassi Thomson and Bernard-Docker. Dorion and DJ Smith have decided Maxence Guénette should be one of the seven defenders on the roster and are now willing to risk another right shot first round pick on it. From play on the ice, though, I would actually agree. Guénette moved the puck well and read the play even better in my preseason views of him.
Regardless of how this shakes out, this move would bring Ottawa's roster to 19 skaters - assuming the remainder of their waiver eligible players at camp get sent down - with $1.7M available to spend. Could we see the Senators go with just 20 skaters and sign Shane Pinto for one year at $1.7M to bring them right up against the cap?
The next few days will be interesting, to say the least.