With the Ottawa Senators in the middle of a rebuild, and coming off a playoff season, there had to be some skepticism about the number of new faces that lined up in Sens uniforms to start the season. With no pre-season games, the half dozen or so new faces had to assimilate themselves into the lineup and hit the ground running.
So far, so good. Five new faces have taken part in both games: Patrick Wiercioch, Andre Benoit, Marc Methot, Guillaume Latendresse and Jakob Silfverberg have all found the scoresheet so far in the first two games.
Methot had probably the toughest task, stepping into the first pairing with Norris Trophy winning defenseman Erik Karlsson. He has quickly made people forget about Karlsson’s former partner, Filip Kuba. Methot is a team leading +4 in just two games and has played a solid brand of tough defense as well as an ability to move the puck. I had seen Methot play a couple of times as a junior, but playing in Columbus he was kind of off the radar so to speak. I was questioning the move when Bryan Murray traded Nick Foligno for Methot, but the Ottawa native has quickly won me over.
As for the other new faces on the blue line, Wiercioch and Benoit have proven to be capable of handling NHL minutes. Not that they have been without their share of adventurous shifts, but on the whole they have been adequate fill ins at least until Mike Lundin recovers from his broken finger and can make his debut in an Ottawa uniform. Wiercioch has shown the ability to quarterback a power play and should be a mainstay in the lineup for the season and beyond.
Silfverberg has been a physical presence on the first line, and has shown a quick release. He just needs to get used to playing with Jason Spezza and realizing that no matter where he is, be ready because Spezza can find you when you least expect it. In a couple of games the chemistry should be to the point where Silfverberg is contributing on a nightly basis.
Latendresse has used his size well, but his skating might be the factor that stops him from keeping the top 6 role he currently has. He is a hard worker and seems to have earned the respect of his teammates already. He will be an effective player for the Senators, but perhaps in a 3rd line role before too long.
So far, so good.