This preseason, the Senators haven’t had the normal run of the mill training camp. They have had a lot of bodies around, moving in and out of the lineup, because of the weird schedule they have had to endure. Last Wednesday’s game against the Habs at home was the most NHL-like lineup, and it still saw a couple of expected minor-leaguers and no NHL-level goaltending.
With 3 games in three nights and a split squad game where the Senators will have to send a certain number of NHL “veterans” to play the Islanders in Barrie, there will not be an opportunity to ice a full NHL roster before the season opener on Friday in Buffalo.
While I am sure that the club would have preferred to ice the NHL lineup for at least one game of the last 5, it isn’t going to happen.
So, that being said, will they be adequately prepared once they take the ice for real?
Putting players in the proper situations to succeed has been nearly impossible, but it has also meant that players take on more important roles from game to game as the lines ahead of them sit out certain games. It is also difficult to see exactly what the Senators have on their hands when they ice a near NHL lineup and their opposition (the Habs in this case) ice what amounts to an AHL roster.
As for health, Jason Spezza will not play Sunday in either game against the Islanders, nursing a groin injury, while Eric Gryba will make his pre-season debut. Spezza will be in the lineup for game 1, but his level of conditioning and chemistry with newcomer Bobby Ryan will still take some development, so they will have to learn about each other on the fly.
I wouldn’t doubt the ability of Paul MacLean to have the team he pilots mentally prepared for the season, but there might be some growing pains on the ice for the first couple of games until they hit their stride.