Kukla's Korner


Ottawa Starting To Fine Tune

The final pre-season auditions, Leclaire ready after a non-injured off-season, the quiet passion of Ottawa fans, and remembering Ottawa’s one-time financially motivated trades, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen (and SENS), on the competition to line up with Fisher and Kovalev,

“Healthy competition is good,” Clouston said Thursday. “Nobody has solidified themselves in that spot at all. Peter will get a chance (Friday night). He’ll have to make good of it. And Nick will get a chance.”

Foligno has already made a strong impression in training camp, scoring in the Senators first two exhibition games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and impressing with strong forechecking and excellent penalty killing.
“I’m just playing,” Foligno said. “Last year, I was just thinking about every single aspect of the game, and now I’m just trying to play the game the way I know how and have for so long. I’m just comfortable. I put the work in during the summer and things seem to be going my way a little bit.”
“Peter [Regin] is a heck of a hockey player and deserves to play with those guys and continue where he left off,” he said. “I thought he had a great end of the year last year and showed what I always knew about him. Whether it’s Peter or I, or playing together, or on separate lines, we need to be the good young players for this team.”

For all the hard work that Regin and Foligno might show, the choice may ultimately depend on neither of them.

In his first full season, Regin went 13-16—29 in 75 GP for 0.387 points per game and an even-strength point every 35m51 of even-strength ice time, while Foligno was 9-17—26 in 61GP for 0.426 and 38m21, having gone 17-15—32 in 81GP for 0.395 and 51m03 the season prior. Foligno shows slightly better numbers overall, while Regin has gotten better results out of his ice time by a slight margin.

When you’re the extra million on an already 9 million plus line, though, it’s about activating that other little financial investment.

At times last season, Regin looked great with Fisher and Kovalev. If Kovalev returns to his more puck greedy ways, however, Foligno could complement better by digging the puck out of the corners more aggressively, and by helping to set up Kovalev and Fisher from a net presence. If the line gets more duty against top opposition, and if Kovalev and Fisher want to be set up and drive the net, respectively, it could be Regin who gets his shot. Either way, something to watch for, and definitely a better problem to have.

From the Ottawa Sun, on the remaining player reviews to be formed,

Senators GM Bryan Murray told the Ottawa Sun Thursday that he expects to cut down the 48-man roster Monday. He’ll need to, as Binghamton is set to open camp on Wednesday in Newfoundland.

“There hasn’t been a battle because there hasn’t been an opportunity for some of them to battle,” said Murray. “When we get through these games and (Tuesday) in Dundas (against Buffalo), the last three games are really meant to see if guys can play or not.

“We still want to give an opportunity to a lot of guys and there’s a number of players who haven’t had a chance to play yet. Those guys will get their games.”

Tonight will also mark the final pre-season debut of a player with a shot to establish himself on the cusp of a roster spot, in Gryba, who has shown a Phillips-like shutdown presence with steady hands. To this point, the players with outside chances of cracking the roster have already appeared early, giving Clouston more freedom to choose who to push to the pre-season limit. But finally there will now also be a chance to see the Senators of the regular season take shape, in part as Fisher and Kovalev begin feeling out a left winger, and as the final goaltender likely to serve in Ottawa makes his debut.

From the Ottawa Senators (and OS), on the first real fresh start for Leclaire in Ottawa,

“Did he get booed (Wednesday) night?” said Leclaire, who, coincidentally, will make his preseason debut Friday night against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. “I don’t know, I’m surprised. I haven’t heard about that (the booing), but it’s Canada. I guess every day people say something. It’s the first game of the year. It doesn’t even count and people are already not happy. And then tomorrow the same guy will make 45 saves and be the best goalie ever, so it’s the same thing every day.”
“We’ve had some pretty good, hard practices, but, until you play a game, it’s not the same thing,” Leclaire said.

“You can ride the bike as much as you want during the summer and practise as much as you want, but nothing can compare to a game, so that’s why it is important to get in a few before the season starts. I think the important thing is to get better as the game goes on.”

“(Friday) will be a good gauge to where I’m at, but I feel good on the ice right now. I come in every day prepared to work hard, and as long as you’re feeling good on October … whenever that first game is, that Buffalo game … that’s the most important thing.”

2010 should be a good year for Leclaire. Now familiar with the team, there is less trepidation. Not coming in off an injury, there will have been a better off-season preparation. With a contract year, there will be plenty of motivation. Even the distinctly less-heralded defence and the presence of Wamsley to coach him should make Leclaire feel more like his glory season in Columbus. Being in Ottawa, as well, despite the hunger for a clear starting goaltender, won’t be as vicious as in Montreal.

From Sens Underground, on the calm but unwavering support of Senators fans,

Last play-offs, when Sens fans showed some passion, albeit in a negative sense, and booed Jason Spezza, it was immediately perceived as a terrible thing and the national press ran with that story all summer long. We were turning on our own, how could we do that? Why would we do that? I don’t want to get into the whole Spezza thing here, that’s not the point of this blog. I just want to point out that it did take 7 years for the fans to get on Spezza to that degree and it was for some serious gaffs during play-offs game that proved very costly. In other words, it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction. This, I see, is the positive side of a thoughtful fan base that some may call sleepy. You really have to piss us off before we turn on you. However, in this situation, we heard about it because we showed passion. You can’t win, I tell ya!

Now, let’s take a short trip down the highway to the city of Montreal where last night, in the very first pre-season game, Carey Price was shredded by his home town fans for a poor performance. One game. Pre-season. For not being Halak. All we ever hear about Montreal fans is how passionate they are, how knowledgeable they are. Whether you agree with your management or not about the Halak trade, Price is now your goalie. So, exactly how knowledgeable is it to tear him to pieces after the first 10 shots he faces this season? Does that make you a smart hockey fan, passionate or a jack ass? Elliot let in three questionable goals Wednesday night. Had it been at home, would we have treated him like Price was treated? Not a chance. Does that make us lousy fans?
Let’s take a trip back the other way on the 401 and look into the bowels of the ACC in Toronto. Ottawa easily dispatched the Leafs in the opening game of the pre-season and the hometown team was booed off the ice… for a pre-season loss. Would we have done the same to our team in the same circumstance? I’d say not likely. Does that make us less passionate or simply smarter and more reasonable?

We may never be Manchester United. We may never start a hockey game with “Ole’s” the way they do in Montreal (often those early starts wind up as losses to boot). But look at the way that Ottawa has stuck by its team throughout the years. Go down to Elgin during playoffs and try not to notice the support. Try to ignore the support that Alfredsson receives for working hard, for playing through injuries no one would ever ask him to play through, and for his work in the community. Despite his rough moments, even Redden kept fan support for longer than he might have elsewhere, through hard personal times, and with great respect for the work he did with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. This is the capital, where every day citizens deal with politicians arguing and yelling about every minute difference in beliefs; things calm down somewhat, yelling voices exhausted, when it comes time to unite behind a team for every game it plays hard for its fans.

From Senators Extra, on a trip down financially troubled memory lane,

Now that the Senators have become a stable franchise, with a deep-pocketed owner, it’s easy to forget there was a time when Ottawa traded a GM for exhibition games.

Well, partly, anyway. In 1999, when Rick Dudley left the Senators to become general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, then-Sens prez Roy Mlakar demanded and received forward Rob Zamuner, plus $1 million in cash, a 2002 second-round pick (later traded to Dallas — Tobias Stephan — and THE RECEIPTS FROM THREE EXHIBITION GAMES.

Tampa also received forward Andreas Johansson.

Thank goodness all the team really has to worry about these days is playing hockey.

Filed in: NHL News, NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | SENShobo | Permalink


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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net