Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Chris Neil Punishes Flyers
You can only write so much about pre-season games before demanding psychotherapy, but a solid win by the Senators over the Flyers gave us a few more hints on the way to the opening night in Sweden not too far from now...
Chris Neil had a helluva game, scoring two goals by standing in front of the net and adding a scrap for good measure. A lot of people were erroneously predicting that Neil was headed out of town this summer but tonight he showed why he's a core player for this team and probably will be for years to come.
Jesse Winchester is battling the perception that he's the next Brandon Bochenski but he's a complete player involved in all facets of the game and looks like a natural on the big line with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.
On the blueline, Brian Lee finally had an effective game after a couple of duds against the Rangers and seemed comfortable on the much improved power-play.
So far, Brendan Bell hasn't made his case to beat out Brian Lee for a spot on the last defense pairing but he had some moments tonight where he looked good offensively. Unfortunately, he looks somewhat lost in his own end and doesn't seem like he has a chance of unseating Lee, Alex Picard or Christoph Schubert due to some gaffes that will be hard to forget for the coaching staff.
The real moment of the night had to be Matt Carkner annihilating fellow tough guy Darryl Powe in a one-sided scrap to state his credentials as a capable heavyweight for this team.
The sheer number of quality forwards precludes Carkner from making this team outright but he will probably get into at least a few games as a call-up against some of the more tougher North Eastern opponents.
Remember that Georges Laraque is now in Montreal while Milan Lucic is gaining popularity in Boston. It's all about matchups and Carkner is the only player in the organization able to nullify those nuclear weapons.
The line of Antoine Vermette, Chris Kelly and Daniel Alfredsson was a natural fit which will probably allow Mike Fisher to stay with Neil and Jarkko Ruutu on an intimidating third line.
If Winchester pans out on the top unit, the Senators are heading into this season with three lines capable of dictating games all on their own.