by SENShobo on 09/21/08 at 06:20 PM ET
The Senators beat the Rangers in their first and very close preseason game, Foligno gets opportunities to show he is ready for an impact role on the team, and Murray is being realistic about his goals and expectations for the team this year.
While there was plenty that could have gone better, as the Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Citizen, NHL.com, and TSN all put it, a win is still a win. You could be disappointed with the ten penalties that the Sens took, with the shorthanded goal they surrendered, and with the eleven powerplays they couldn’t capitalize on. But there were plenty of positives too: Smith setting up Heatley for a nice one timer, Spezza slowly dekeing his way to a shorthanded goal, Fisher putting the Sens up to a three nothing lead, Gerber only surrendering a single powerplay goal over two periods while facing 24 shots (.958 Sv%), and Elliot only surrendering one goal on his twelve shots (.917 Sv%).
Indeed, the Sens will have to cut out the sloppy stick play, maybe a consequence of not playing in any scrimmages before yesterday’s game, but there’s plenty of time to correct that. I was a little surprised to hear that Alfie had a sore hip and will wind up missing both of the first two preseason games against the Rangers, but it would make sense with my earlier notion that keeping the scoring balanced will make him a little less of a target for future injuries. The last bonus comes from Spezza and Heatley.
“Heater and I have talked about wanting to kill more penalties this year. It’s a responsibility that we want to take on because it’s a good way for us to contribute and do some stuff for the team. It may cut some of our ice time 5-on-5, but I think it’s a good thing for us to be doing,”
It would seem that all the talk of Spezza having the chance to develop into a solid all-around player might well be ready to start paying dividends, and a team as united in mindset and duties has a good a chance as any to pull off a great season.
Foligno may not have had Alfie at his side, but playing with Vermette and centering the Senators’ second line was definitely a highlight, reports the Ottawa Citizen. I do like to see Sens rookies getting good opportunities to challenge for spots, and to challenge the veterans to up their games. The one weird thing about this move is taking Vermette, the sixth best faceoff man in the NHL at 56.7% last year, and putting him on the wing. I suppose that we do have plenty of guys who can play center, and there are advantages to being able to shift people around, but faceoffs are a very underrated part of the game, and if we end up trading Vermette’s success for anything much less than it, I might start to wonder if we’re missing out on valuable opportunities. Of course, the season is still not here, so I will refrain from judging. For the moment.
Not that we believe in superstitions, but Murray certainly isn’t going to be the one to make lofty promises for the team this year, according to the Ottawa Sun. Certainly there’s a lot of confidence in the room, but promising a Cup will not do any good. Despite the seemingly innocuous nature of the offseason moves he made, you must not underestimate the power of addition by subtraction (I remember integers in math, don’t you?).
“We had some issues last year that were maybe overstated, and we had a couple of players who didn’t follow the guidelines so we moved them out of here, and I believe we brought in good people,” said Murray.
“They aren’t only good players, but they’re also good people. We’ve got Jason Smith and we’ve got some good kids here. Those incidents last year were talked about far too much. I felt the media had a field day with us last year. They will not have a field day with us this year ... I feel once people see this team play, they’ll be very happy this year.”
There may still be more additions as well, as Murray has yet to fully rule out signing Sundin. Considering the pure abundance of centers we have, and the fact that the Schneider situation has proven that it’s not easy to make a trade when it’s the post-trade payoff you’re looking for, I still can’t see it happening.
Aside from that, there’s the fact that I really don’t see it as a bonus to go through that situation. I do not support moves like Forsberg signing and playing for a couple months, or a few vets signing halfway through the season. The rules state that you have to play in the Stanley Cup Finals to have won it, or you have to have played 41 games (half the season) for the team. In reality, this would best be served if the rules were modified to state that if your name is going to be engraved based on having played in the Stanley Cup Finals, you must have played at least 41 games during the season, for any team. This would rule out the trade deadline and late season signees from the reward of winning a Cup, and the whole point of the Stanley Cup is that you have played a year in the NHL, beaten the best of the best of the best of the best of the best, and it is a privilege and an honour, and I truly believe that signing as a trade-deadline, didn’t feel like playing the rest of the season ringer is not a path worthy of having your name recorded on the greatest sporting trophy.
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