Senators News: October 8th

Sportsnet‘s Ian Mendes tweets that David Rundblad and Bobby Butler are the healthy scratches tonight (link), with Zenon Konopka added to the lineup.

The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch has a potpourri article (link) which includes comments by Paul MacLean about David Rundblad, “David’s here to play on the team, so we don’t expect him just to practise. But we need to work on his defensive game, just to make sure he’s ready.

The Toronto Star‘s Damien Cox looks at the current battle of Ontario (link) and has some interesting comments: “These are two hockey clubs trying to find their way out of the wilderness, and neither is doing it like Edmonton, tearing it all down and finishing 30th for a couple of years to get the best teenagers the world has to offer.  There’s been great criticism in Toronto for some of Brian Burke’s decisions that are viewed as contradictory to the youth movement he has put in place, such as trading away high first round draft picks. In Ottawa, the process is even more confusing. The Sens will dress a host of recent first round picks like 18-year-old Mika Zibanejad, Jared Cowen, Erik Karlsson, David Rundblad, Brian Lee and Nick Foligno, but also thirtysomethings Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Sergei Gonchar, Filip Kuba, Chris Neil, Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner, as well as both goalies, Craig Anderson and Alex Auld.  The much younger Leafs, by contrast, have two players who are 30 years old, Tim Connolly and John-Michael Liles, and that’s it.  So is Ottawa trying to win now, or at least finish much higher in the Eastern Conference? And where do the Sens and GM Bryan Murray stand in their rebuilding project compared to the Leafs? One difference is that while Burke inherited a mess and has spent 2 1/2 years trying to overhaul the roster, Murray, to a large extent, created his own mess, and has been given an opportunity to clean it up.

I have a lot of respect for Cox and often agree with him, but as interesting as his comparison is I believe he’s erred in making it.  Toronto, under Burke, is in year four of his rebuild, so the apt comparable would be his first full year rebuilding (2009-10) when he had five players over 30.  Cox also skips over the fact that Ottawa simply couldn’t move Kuba or Gonchar when they decided to rebuild.  His other point, that the mess in Ottawa is largely Murray’s doing, is apt and given that Brian Burke’s roster is now truly his both GM’s are perfectly comparable in that sense.

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy looks at which 2011 draftees will stick in the NHL all season (link), but he isn’t definitive in all his picks.  He does think Mika Zibanejad will stay with the Senators, “A fast-riser as the 2011 draft class came together, Zibanejad entered a perfect situation in Ottawa – the Sens were rail-thin down the middle, but still had talent on the wings. That means Z-Bad gets to kick off his NHL career with fellow Swede Daniel Alfredsson by his side and there isn’t a better mentor I can think of. He’ll stick.

-The Elmira Jackals lost their first pre-season game 5-4, with all the players sent down by Binghamton getting points (Josh Godfrey lead the way with a goal and two assists).  Goaltender Corey Milan played in relief after the starter (Larry Sterling) was shelled for four goals.

-Former Sens draft pick Philippe Seydoux (3-100/03), who was on a PTO with the Calgary organisation, was released by the Abbotsford Heat prior to the AHL season (link).

Ottawa 3, Detroit 5; Binghamton 2, Hershey 3

The first games are in the books for the organisation and both were regulation losses.  For Ottawa, they played a solid first period and an inspired third, but were awful in the second (check out the game sheet link).  My thoughts, starting with all the goals:
1. Bertuzzi goal – created by a bad line change by Jared Cowen (some have blamed Sergei Gonchar for this, but Paul MacLean fingered the rookie)
2. Lidstrom goal – terrible pass by Chris Phillips to the wrong team
3. Emmerton goal – courtesy of a turnover by Erik Karlsson
4. Hudler goal – created by a Jared Cowen turnover (this is a goal I think Craig Anderson could have stopped–he got too deep in his net)
5. White goal – Stephane Da Costa loses the draw cleanly and the puck is fired through a Phillips screen
6. Michalek goal – deflects a Jason Spezza shot
7. Michalek goal – great pass from Spezza and great move from Michalek
8. Kuba goal – shoots through a Colin Greening screen
Bobby Butler continues to remain in MacLean’s dog house, receiving by far the least amount of ice time
Daniel Alfredsson was -3
-MacLean did some line juggling in the third period, putting Alfredsson with Da Costa while Zibanejad joined Zack Smith and Chris Neil
-MacLean liked Da Costa, thought Zibanejad played nervous and thought Cowen was up and down; he said of the team’s overall effort that he’s “not totally displeased”
Overall Spezza, Michalek, Neil, and Condra had strong games, while Phillips and Cowen struggled.  Speaking of Phillips, he had this to say post-game (link), “We all have to be a little smarter with the puck and make better decisions. It’s a part of the game. You have some guys who are just starting out and it’s going to happen. Tonight it was everyone who was making costly mistakes.”  One final, niggling detail I’ve seen repeated in a couple of Ottawa Citizen articles: Ottawa did not ice four rookies (Zibanejad, Da Costa, Cowen, and Greening), but five (Condra), with three others who have never played a full NHL season (Smith, Butler, and Filatov).

In Binghamton, the Calder Cup champs lost 3-2 to Hershey, being out shot 37-29.  I did not see the game, but a few things stick out looking at the game sheet (link) and Joy Lindsay’s game blog (link):
Patrick Wiercioch had a goal and assist and was named the game’s second star, but was on the ice for all three goals against and made a weak play on the boards that cost a goal
Mike Hoffman was -3 and was guilty of a turnover that lead to a goal
Pat Cannone lead the team with five shots
-Hershey scored two short-handed goals
-Binghamton had a goal called back in the third period
Joy interviewed Kurt Kleinendorst (among others) after the game (link): “I thought we got better as the game went along. We took some penalties early, they got some momentum early, the shot clock looked ugly early, but at the end of the day, I thought our killers did a great job. And it was really our power play that did us in. First two goals against our power play. We did get one back, but you can’t be a minus-1 on the power play and expect to win against most teams, let alone Hershey. It’s an early day. I have to think we’ll be just fine, but we still have some work to do.” And “I thought Cowie [Corey Cowick] did a great job. He’s one of those guys that has already kind of shown what hard work does for you. He worked hard over the summer, and his game has improved quite a bit.”