Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sens 4 Flyers 0

The Ottawa Senators skated to a 4-0 win last night in their first pre-season game, with a great performance from, of all people, Martin Gerber and youngsters Nick Foligno and Ilya Zubov.

Some quick thoughts:

Nick Foligno played a smart, aggressive game by going to the net and forechecking hard. He’s looks like he really might have a chance to stick with the big squad. But that’s also partly due to the virtually invisible game that prospect forward Josh Hennessy played. I’m not sure what’s the deal with this guy but he has to show more than he did last night. He displayed a major lack of intensity and played on the perimeter. To me, he had the best chance of grabbing that one fourth line spot that’s been left open but he was badly outplayed by Foligno.

Another bright spot was Ilya Zubov. Not only did he look comfortable on and off the ice (he was chirping and laughing on the bench with the boys), but he displayed a great hockey sense and always seemed to be around the puck. He scored a nice goal and looks like he’ll see some NHL time this season. He does look small though.

Much heralded prospect Brian Lee played a seesaw game where he made some perfect tape-to-tape outlet passes but had some lapses in the defensive zone. The encouraging aspect is that he is highly skilled but I don’t see him on the big team at any point this season. Still looks like a baby.

Luke Richardson played a solid game and didn’t have a bad shift. He showed how strong he was down low and proved to be a better skater than you’d think. I just don’t see the Sens sending him down, even if it means keeping an extra body on the roster. He was already wearing an “A” last night and will be a pivotal figure in the locker room. Plus, he can still play.

In the veteran category, Chris Kelly, Patrick Eaves, Andrej Meszaros, Chris Neil and Joe Corvo all played good games. Kelly, I thought, looked like the leader on the ice and Meszaros overcame a few opening bad shifts to look strong on the blueline. Meszaros has still has to learn to take a hard hit and not give up the puck.

Denis Hamel was invisible all night. I don’t think I’ve honestly ever seen Hamel play a really good game in a Sens uniform. I don’t get it. He’s way too slow for the NHL and he doesn’t bother to hit anyone. He’s purely an AHL player at this point.

On the Flyers side of the ledger, I thought Joffrey Lupul played a terrible game. For a guy with that kind of skill, Lupul looks like he couldn’t care less. The Flyers could have a big time bust on their hands with this guy unless he finds some intensity. You can even see it when he talks to the media. He seems glazed over and uninterested. The Flyers fans will kill this guy if he doesn’t shape up.

Brian Boucher played well in goal for the Flyers as he attempts to get his career back on the tracks. Steve Downie still doesn’t look like he’s ready for the NHL which surprises me. He has a chance to be the next Sean Avery but he looks timid for some reason.

And of course, we have to hand it to Martin Gerber who got his season off to a strong start by making some brilliant point-blank saves. It’s only one game but it looks encouraging. But what’s with the blank helmet? He said there was nothing to it and that he was just trying a new model out in training camp. But there he was last night with the Sens-less helmet. My bet is it stays that way until someone gets the courage to trade for him.

Uni Note: The new Sens uniforms looked better than I expected but the road jerseys are so white that you actually have trouble picking out the players on the ice. Hopefully that’s not the case for the players themselves or we could see a miserable road record for the Sens and nobody will realize why.

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