Ottawa 3, Montreal 4 (SO)

The third game of the Senators exhibition season is in the books, losing 4-3 to Montreal in a shootout.  The game wasn’t particularly intense nor was it physical, but featured some interesting player performances.  I won’t repost the box score (link), but I’ll take a look at the best and worst players for the Sens–keeping in mind that this is the exhibition season and, as such, doesn’t mean much.  The Rogers broadcast was terrible, but it is the pre-season.

Positive Performances
Zack Smith was terrific; he’s improved his footspeed and showed a lot of confidence offensively
Jason Spezza played well and provided his linemates (particularly Butler) with plenty of scoring opportunities
Daniel Alfredsson showed a little rust, but demonstrated his great hands and creativity
Milan Michalek was strong on the puck and used his speed and net drive
Erik Karlsson played very well (other than a couple of occasions where he overhandled the puck)
Stephane Da Costa was strong throughout the game, although he’d occasionally get his wires crossed with his linemates
Derek Grant was good in all three zones
Mike Hoffman continued to show great hands and vision
Andre Petersson didn’t play much, but played hard, showing no fear going into the corners

Struggling
Filip Kuba had a couple of terrible giveaways early in the game
Patrick Wiercioch continues to turn the puck over and played far less than any other blueliner
Bobby Butler had (by my count) six scoring chances tonight, but is still looking for his first pre-season goal

Other
Nikita Filatov started to wear down as the game went on which lead to some mental mistakes
Chris Phillips did not start well, but limited his mistakes as the game continued; it would be nice to see him make a crisp outlet pass once in awhile

For other views of the game, here’s The Silver Seven‘s Mark Parisi (link) and SenShot‘s Derrick Brose (link).

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Senators News: September 24

Today’s Sens news:

The Ottawa Sun‘s Don Brennan has become a Brian Lee fan (link)–a strong reaction after two exhibition games.  He reports that Zenon Konopka has been kept out of games due to a sore back, and mentions that he likes Mike Hoffman and Andre Petersson–an opinion I share.

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Allen Panzeri writes about Mike Hoffman (link), with the sophomore saying, “Going from being the No. 1 guy junior to turning pro and being the youngest guy on the team, it’s a little different. You’re trying to work and get the coaches to trust you, but coming in as a  first-year player, a rookie pro, they don’t always trust you, so you have to get the coaches on your side. I think it’s just a case of taking steps and getting better every time out.”

-Joy Lindsay wrote an interesting article about Maxim Gratchev (link), who talked about his return to the Senators organisation, “I’m especially happy to be back in North America this year, and so far, it’s been great. I spent time in Binghamton, and when there was some interest, it made the decision for me pretty easy because they treated me with a lot of respect. As a player, you never forget that. So far, I’ve been getting a great chance. I’m hoping I can get into some exhibition games and show my game further. I came here to training camp for one reason, and that was to push for a roster spot. It’s been my main goal ever since I started playing hockey, to get to the NHL, so that’s what I’m focused on.  A couple of years ago, I would have said (I was) kind of flashy. But I think playing in the KHL with a lot of great players, a lot of NHL players, rounded out my game a lot. I think I’ve become more of a two-way player; I think I’m tenacious, hard on the puck, and I like to score goals. I try to do everything, and everything I do, I do it to win.

-In the same article, Lindsay talks to Mike McKenna who credits goaltending coach Rick Wamsley for signing with the Sens, “Truthfully, I don’t think I’d be in this position if it wasn’t for Rick. In 2007, I worked with the Blues all summer, went through all their camps and everything, and Wammer was the goalie coach for them. The work I did with him kind of set the groundwork for me to end up in Portland that following year  I’ve found that more often than not, the team that wants you the most offers you first, and the opportunity might be the best one. That’s how it looked this year. So far it’s proven to be that, and I hope it continues that way.

Sportsnet‘s Louis Jean has tweeted the Sens and most of the Habs lineups for tonight (link):
Filatov-Smith-Zibanejad
Michalek-Regin-Neil
Greening-Da Costa-Condra
Daugavins-Grant-Parrish
Cowen-Gonchar
Borowiecki-Rundblad
Wiercioch-Carkner
Lehner/McKenna

Cammalleri-Plekanec-Gionta
Palushaj-Dumont-Trotter
Archambault-DeSimone-Moen
Lefevre-Masse-Schultz
Beaulieu, Spacek, Woywitka, Gorges
Price

-The Sens sent Jean-Gabriel Pageau back to junior (link).

The Hockey News‘ Adam Proteau has made his predictions for the Eastern Conference (link).  He joins the majority in selecting the Sens to finish at the bottom of the heap.  “When some of us dared to suggest the Senators wouldn’t be a playoff team last season, many a set of pearls were clutched in Canada’s capital city. But when the bottom fell out and the Sens didn’t get good goaltending and Sergei Gonchar came out auditioning for The Walking Dead and their lack of depth was fully and completely exposed, even ownership admitted the franchise was closer to a full-on rebuild than a post-season berth. Without a doubt, there are pieces worth keeping – including Calder candidate blueliners David Rundblad and Jared Cowen – but if you don’t agree this team has more holes than a (insert your most hated rival team’s name here) convention, you’re officially hole-identification challenged.”  Proteau would be better served by not commenting on fan reaction.  The prediction itself doesn’t involve analysis other than him seeing holes in the lineup, so I can’t really comment on it.