The Ottawa Senators, fresh with a newly named captain, will make their pre-season debut on Sunday evening went they head West to take on a former Conference foe.
8:00 PM EST
TV: none Radio: TEAM1200
Last Season: Ottawa took 2 of 3 meetings last season, wrapping bookend 4-1 wins around a stellar performance by Al Montoya, who shut out the Senators 1-0 for the Jets’ lone win of the season series.
Last Games: Winnipeg played last night in the Kraft Hockeyville game, losing to Washington in a shootout 4-3. Don’t expect any of the same players to play against the Senators tonight. This is the Senators’ first game action of the new season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jason Spezza, OTT – Spezza will be wearing the C for the first time in his career, and it will look strange on the jersey of anyone other than Daniel Alfredsson. Spezza will have some proving to do that he is fully recovered from his back surgery, and will also look to develop some in-game chemistry with new winger Bobby Ryan.
Dustin Byfuglien, WPG – The dominant defenseman for the Jets has done so in the past despite questions about his weight and his fitness level. By all accounts Byfuglien is in the best shape of his career, and if so that is a scary thought for opposing players. He has always been really good, but fitness could put him into elite status.
TOP 3 STORYLINES
1. Who’s In: The Senators sent a traveling contingent of 28 players for the two games in Winnipeg tonight and Saskatoon (vs. the Flames) on Monday. Some Players will play in just one or the other, while most will play back to back.
2. Chemistry: While the Spezza-Ryan-Milan Michalek line should blend well, more important for me will be the second line chemistry between Kyle Turris, Clarke MacArthur and, for the time being, Cory Conacher (or judging by the morning skate, Mike Hoffman). If they can provide enough secondary scoring, it will be easier to leave the top line together for the long term. (EDIT: Apparently line 2 will have to wait until Monday)
3. EK OK? – This will be a big test for Erik Karlsson, who has had the summer to regain the mobility he lost after his return from the Achilles’ tendon injury. He came back, and did ok in doing so faster than anyone expected, but he wasn’t the same player. Karlsson’s game relies on his moblity and acceleration, and not time like the present to show that he is indeed back.
Preseason isn’t a win or lose proposition. Its about getting in the groove, finding some chemistry and learning about your teammates. Still, you want to see some good things from your veterans, and even better things from the prospects that are getting their first taste of the NHL experience.