Saturday, September 20, 2008
Ottawa 3 New York 2
A few quick notes about tonight's game:
There are some fierce battles for roster spots on this team and there were some clear winners and losers in tonight for the Ottawa Senators.
Impressive were Jesse Winchester and Nick Foligno while Christoph Schubert, Alex Picard and Brian Lee didn't fare as well.
Winchester really surprised me with how fast he was and made a strong case to stay with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley (who both looked fantastic as well, not surprisingly).
Foligno did a little bit of everything, including kill penalties and seemed like a veteran out there.
Schubert looked like he was nervous as hell and was often out of position but he still has a presence on the ice and stood up a few Rangers at the blueline with some solid hits. Coach Hartsburg played Schubert a ton and is obviously looking for him to step up and fend off the likes of Lee and Picard.
Picard also looked nervous and unsure of himself while I thought Lee started out strong but gave away the puck a few times in the second period. The poise of Lee still impresses me. He actually reminds me a lot of a young Wade Redden and despite this minor setback, look for him to get more comfortable as camp progresses. After all, these guys just started skating on Wednesday. There was bound to be a few mulligans handed out tonight. (0 for 10 on the power-play is still tough to swallow at any time of the year)
Everyone wanted to see new acquisitions like Jason Smith and Filip Kuba play but the results were mixed here as well. Smith played exactly as advertised but Kuba seemed lethargic out there and was slow at moving the puck both out of the zone and on the point during the power play. For a guy who is supposed to replace Andre Meszaros, he doesn't seem like he wants to shoot from the point, something that Meszaros was great at. Kuba did seem strong defensively but the Senators will be in a lot of trouble if he can't score. In fact, the lack of a puck-moving defenseman was already evident as the transition game was poor at best for the Senators.
The goaltending for the Senators was really strong from both Martin Gerber and Brian Elliot. Both got beat once on nearly identical blocker side shots that any goalie would have trouble stopping. Gerber twice had issues with strange bobbled rebounds but that's nothing new. The Senators look to be better in front of the net this year and that should help Gerber out quite a bit.
And is it just me or does Elliot remind anyone of Eddie Belfour? Not skill-wise of course, but just the way he plays in net and the way he looks. He's even got the unshaved face going on. I tell you, it's eerie.
How about that first shift from the Mike Fisher, Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu line? It literally looked like Slapshot for a few seconds there.
On the Rangers side, there have been reports of griping from some of the players at the number of exhibition games they have to play in such a short time and it showed in a largely B-list roster that made the trip up from Manhattan.
Brandon Dubinsky was probably the best player on either team tonight and that has to be a great relief for the Rangers because many wondered how Dubinsky would react after losing Jaromir Jagr as a linemate from last season. Obviously, the kid can play with or without Jagr.
And who the hell let Dane Byers out of his cage at the zoo? He reminds me of that character Chongo from Detroit Rock City. He plowed Danny Bois from behind with a dangerous hit and probably ate some raw meat between periods.
I kind of like him, to be honest.