Monday, September 22, 2008
Tough Night On Broadway
In a role reversal from Sunday night, the Senators brought a young and inexperienced squad to New York and got badly outplayed, managing only 5 shots in the first period and 7 in the second before bouncing back with 10 in a more spirited third. .
The one salvation for Ottawa was the play of Alex Auld who turned aside 28 shots in the first two periods behind a defense that couldn't get the puck out of the zone if their paycheques depended on it. At times Auld was unbelievable and only looked ordinary once on Petr Nedved's breakaway goal that went through his legs.
Auld is going to put more pressure on Martin Gerber than people realize. It should be a good battle between the two for the first couple of months.
There's not much to report individually on the players vying for a spot on the team because no one really stepped up and made themselves noticed.
Brad Isbister, who's kind of a forgotten entity right now, made a great play in the third, chipping the puck past a Ranger defenseman and showing a nice burst of speed to set up Dean McAmmond for Ottawa's only goal. Isbister's size would be a great addition if he could use that speed and skill more often. No one's holding their breath on that one.
Brian Lee got stronger as the game went on after another shaky start and looked pretty good manning the point on the powerplay, especially in the third period where he and Christoph Schubert controlled the puck nicely. Lee had 3 shots to lead all defenseman with Schubert just behind him at 2.
Ilya Zubov had a poor game and looked uninterested in any sort of puck pursuit where bodily contact would be involved. Matt Carkner was fun to watch at moments as he played left wing instead of defense. He actually has some decent speed but I'm not sure if he knows how to stop. Along with Lee and Schubert, Carkner was the only plus player on the Senators side.
Wade Redden had a solid game for the Rangers, tying for the lead in shots on goal with 6 and making some nice crisp passes, including a couple of long bomb attempts that not many current Senators defenseman would try.
Redden is going to be missed way more than Bryan Murray accounted for. Look for him to have a big bounceback season on the scoresheet.
And he's got a lot to work with. Brandon Dubinsky was again the best Ranger player while Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev looked intermittently dangerous as well.
The surprise of the night had to be Petr Nedved who is on a tryout basis with the Rangers in camp. He was skating and controlling the puck like it was 1996 all over again. The Rangers announcers had lots to say about Nedved showing up in great physical shape but they still don't see him making the team.
Would the cap-challenged Senators entertain the notion as a solution to their second line centre blues?
Not likely, but some team will come calling if Nedved continues to impress.
Regardless, that's two sloppy efforts in a row by the Senators. It's still just training camp but coach Craigh Hartsburg will have to expect better efforts sooner rather than later.