Wait a minute, you mean all 8 goals scored tonight by the Ottawa Senators were by bottom nine forwards, and six of them came from the plate of Chris “Hands of Stone” Kelly, and Zack “Lunchpail Kid” Smith. Bothfinishing off their nights with hat-tricks in the final minute is a taste to see, and especially how this team built around it. Now the Sens are the highest scoring team in the pre-season, and total 360 after last season’s defensive team.
Let’ start with the good. Obviously scoring 8 goals in any NHL game, whether pre-season or not is a feat. Great job by the bottom nine guys who gutted out the victory, and claps for the top six guys who fought hard all night and got chances on Martin Biron. If this is how the team will look like in terms of offense, me likey, and me likey a lot. Generating offense if important, especially when it comes from the defense. The impact of Sergei Gonchar is great, especially on the Power-Play when his crisp passes are something to behold.
Then there’s the bad. First, the defense in their own zone couldn’t cover anyone tonight. They were lost souls out there, and seemed to get fooled by the Rags’ forwards. Mats Zucharello’s goal was a fault of Matt Carkner on a completely broken play. The cross-ice pass from Biron to Derek Stepan should have been picked up. And then there’s the guy on the back, Pascal Leclaire.
Absolutely horrendous tonight. Although he made some saves of note in the third period, 4 of the Rangers goals were his fault completely. He had a fetish of giving up the puck to Todd White after the first “save”, who somehow put it into the net. His puck-handling abilities were very shaky, and he seemed to deep in the net. Right now, it’s at the point where I’m starting to believe Brian Elliott will start on October 8th. It makes sense, he’s been better than Leclaire in the pre-season, he has a crazy good record against the Buffalo Sabres, and Cory Clouston likes him better. We’ll see though, but this needs to be stopped.
The game wasn’t the only news-story today. The final cuts were made half-way through the game, and some of them were surprising. First, the known: Cody Bass, Francis Lessard, Corey Locke, Derek Smith, Robin Lehner, Patrick Wiercioch, and Ryan Keller head down to Binghamton. All expected, although good camps from Bass and Wiercioch were pretendous. Bobby Butler was also sent down to Binghamton, meaning he’ll have to climb his way into the big club lineup. A bit surprising, as he did well but not enoguh to surplant the likes of Ryan Shannon and Jesse Winchester. He should get developed on the farm team, and play at least 10 games this season, maybe more.
The biggest shock (at least for me) was the demotion of Jared Cowen to the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. Cowen had a solid camp, and much much better than the rookie camp. It seemed to me he would at least start the season of the 7th spot, but obviously his less-than-decent game yesterday in New York and Brian Lee’s eventual one-way contract prevented his NHL career to kick off. Well, he’s now in the hands of former Bingo Sens coach Don Nachbaur. Should be interesting.
We now know David Hale will start the season and Brian Lee will be the 7th defenseman, but in my mind not for long. He didn’t have a good camp, and couldn’t get past anyone in the depth chart. The reasons he stays is his one-way contract, and that exact signing last seasons is still a head scratcher for me. I just don’t hope nobody on defense gets hurt now, because his replacement may be fortitude.
Good win tonight, and in the next days I will be previewing the Senators seasons, what their lineup should look like, and obviously the predictions—the horror! But for now, it’s win win win baby!