by SENShobo on 09/25/08 at 10:01 AM ET
The Sens beat the Flyers 3-1 last night as a solid team effort helped cover up a few individual lapses, the roster on defence remains full as the last few slots are still in play for all contenders, and the Sens trim their roster to continue the slow task of determining the best fit for the team this season.
Last night the Senators put forth a solid effort, and wound up with an exciting 3-1 win over the visiting Flyers (OC, OS, OSW, TSN). Let’s hope that all losing streaks this season will be laid to rest this quickly. Neil would be the hero of the night, winding up with a powerplay goal and an even strength marker, while still finding time to fight with Asham before the game came to a close. Definitely a step in the right direction after last season’s six goal effort and medley of undisciplined penalties. It will no doubt help to get things off to a good start between Neil and coach Hartsburg, who likely got a boost to his balanced scoring approach from last night’s game.
“I’m not really concerned (with how many I score). We want to win. If I’m going out and playing physical, that’s how I’m effective,” said Neil, who was named the game’s first star. “I don’t expect to score 50, but if I can score 10-20, I’m helping out. That’s something I feel I’m capable of doing.”
“If we can roll four lines, we’re going to keep our big guys a lot fresher,” Neil said. “Last year, they got playing 24, 25 minutes some nights, and that takes a toll on their bodies. They’re able to do it in some games, but if the third and fourth lines can chip in and help out, play a little more and get some offence, it’s going to help us down the stretch.”
Not that Neil was the only player looking solid. While the top line’s goal by Winchester was more of a fluke, a pass winding up in the net after deflecting off of Lupul’s skate, the top line did much to keep the pressure up. Winchester continued to show the hard work and good hockey sense in this game that I saw from him during the Kitchener Rookie Tournament.
The other offensive line of Alfie, Vermette, and Kelly worked hard as well, keeping the puck out of danger, and always finding a way to create their own chances, though as luck would have it none of their several opportunities would connect. Bell likely felt disappointed after a casual pass from the endboards wound up on Powe’s stick, and in the net a little too deep on a shot that might’ve had Gerber feeling a little sloppy, though he would go on to stop the other 10 shots of the game.
If there is one lesson to learn from the game, it’s that getting pucks on net and mucking and grinding can lead to ugly but rewarding goals, as not one of Ottawa’s three goals was a skillful one. All three, just like the game’s outcome, were the result of persistence and hard work.
The Senators still have not narrowed down their selection on Defence, and just as many questions undoubtedly still remain (OC, OS, OSW). While it’s obvious to anyone that Phillips, Volchenkov, Smith, and Kuba all have a slot secured, the last pairing is anything but set, and one could easily expect it to change with the 7th defenceman depending on the night. Battling it out still are Picard, Lee, Bell, Schubert, and Richardson.
While puckmoving defencemen are what Murray has oft-stated as his need, there is still no clear winner. Only established defencemen have had real and repeated success in the past three games on the powerplay, and lacklustre efforts from the others have yet to make any stand out, though it is actually Richardson, once thought to have the least chance to make it, who has been showing the most consistent defensive efforts. Surely the continued development of Lee, the one-way contract of Picard, the desire to move back to the blueline of Schubert, the fresh two-way contract of Bell, and the age, determination, and tryout status of Richardson will all play into Murray and Hartsburg’s decisionmaking, along with plenty else that we may never know. There are still a few days left though, and perhaps if some work is done to trim several people from our current 18 forwards, the answer will come.
Roster reduction was the name of the game, as seven more players were sent to Binghamton for training camp (OSW). Returned to Binghamton were forwards Bois, Nikulin, Zubov, Shannon, and Hennessy, along with defenceman Karlsson and goaltender Glass. The remaining 18 forwards in Ottawa likely have several players destined to wind up back in Binghamton as well, only who are getting their own fair look still in Ottawa.
Hennessy would appear to be on his last legs with Ottawa after this move, wondering where he might end up next season. The last piece of the trade that saw Havlat moved to Chicago with Smolinski for Hennessy, Preissing, Barinka, and a 2008 2nd round pick, just as all three of those left the Senators (even the pick was traded away), so too will Hennessy possibly be saying his goodbyes soon as well. It makes it all the more amusing to hear that yesterday, speaking yesterday after being named as a consultant to Phoenix on a Toronto radio station, Muckler was asked why he was fired by Melnyk.
“There were a lot of reasons,” he said. “None of them were right.”
Glad to hear someone still thinks we made off like bandits in that trade, seemingly unaware that that particular trade (and the signing of Redden over Chara) are what most fans remember him for.
McAmmond might also be on his last legs, according to the Ottawa Citizen. With plenty of forwards, and McAmmond never quite the same after repeated injuries (courtesy the Flyers’ Downie and the Ducks’ Pronger), there is word he might find himself on waivers should younger guys impress the Sens’ brass, though more solid efforts, and contributions like his goal against the Rangers, would work well in his favour.
“Nothing has been said, not to me, if you’re asking me about where I might fit in,” said Mc-Ammond, “I think the luxury they have, they can put me wherever they want. I won’t complain. I will play the same way.”
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