Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Da lil Guy on 09/16/13 at 10:33 AM ET
Going into the first pre-season game of the year, Ottawa Senators' fans had a few questions. Two of the most pressing questions are whether or not Erik Karlsson will be able to fully recover from having his Achilles' tendon partially severed by the skate blade of Matt Cooke and return to Norris Trophy form. Another was whether the newly acquired Bobby Ryan would be able to find chemistry with linemate Milan Michalek and newly minted Captain Jason Spezza (both of whom are also returning from a season plagued by injuries) and justify the heavy price paid to bring him in from Anaheim (former first rounder Stefan Noeson, former Swedish MVP Jakob Silfverberg, and the club's first rounder in 2014).
Of course, no pre-season matchup is going to put those kinds of questions to rest - but all the signs were certainly positive in the Sens 3-1 win over the Jets in Winnepeg last night.
Karlsson played over 26 minutes, recorded 4 shots and finished with 2 assists. He was chosen as the game's first star. Though he'd previously said he still had some numbness in his foot, his performance suggests he was being sincere when he said he'd be back at 100% when the season started.
Ryan, Spezza and Michalek combined on two of the Sens goals. The first was a laser shot from Ryan that bounced in and out of the top corner so fast it probably didn't even give enough time for fans listening and watching to let out a collective sigh of relief. The second came when Michalek tipped a Karlsson shot off a feed from Spezza. While the Sens 8th Captain didn't claim an assist on the first goal, he was involved in setting up the play. The question of chemistry had come up several times during the first days of training camp, and the line had been collectively hedging their bets about how quickly a rapport would develop. Early success will undoubtedly relieve some pressure and allow them to play a little looser.
As I said, it's only pre-season. The Jets certainly didn't ice their 'A' squad, having played the night before in Belleville - while the Sens had their top line and top defensive pairing together for the match. Any Sens fan who remembers the name 'Brandon Bochenski' will also think twice about making bold predictions based on exhibition play.
Still, hockey starved fans will take any scraps we can get and Sens fans will probably be eating up any good news they can.
Sens Bloggers SilverSevenSens have a great series on some of the burning questions facing the Sens this season here
SensNation has also put together a great podcast for fans starting this season, available here
I appreciate you reading this far, and I'd love it if you followed my brand new twitter account @DLGHockey
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