A well deserved loss by the Senators tonight in the home opener, as they were unable to keep up with the fleet footed Sabres after the first period.
This game was most notable for two obvious reasons: one, a preview of life without Jason Spezza was a gloomy scenario, especially if he was ever out of the lineup for a significant period of time (or traded like he could have been this past summer). And two, Pascal Leclaire threw off a poor training camp just like he said he would, and played a near-incredible game.
It was a loss, but the play of Leclaire made it feel like something was salvaged, or at least promised in the near future.
The Senators still have to be concerned with their play in their own end. The Sabres completely controlled the home team down low and unfortunately highlighted what life is going to be like without Anton Volchenkov and Andy Sutton. Leclaire was the only reason the Sens had a shooter's chance in the waning minutes.
The good news is the Senators are right back at it in Toronto on Saturday night.
Black Aces Senators 3 Stars
1. Pascal Leclaire
2. Daniel Alfredsson
3. Jarkko Ruutu
Honourable mentions: Milan Michalek and Sergei Gonchar.
Notes: Eugene Melnyk let it be known in a radio interview today that the Senators were finally getting a much needed new scoreboard for next season, just in time for the first ever All-Star game in Canada's capital city. Clearly the fans and a few columnists (most notably the Sun's Don Brennan) put on enough pressure to accelerate the organization's plans to purchase a new one down the road. Just this summer, the Senator's were downplaying the need for the new item, saying that fans were more concerned with the quality of food concessions in the Kanata rink, but now it looks like they've changed their tune a bit. It shows the organization is willing to listen and try to give the fans the best experience possible. But that's always been the hallmark of Melnyk's tenure here (not that it wasn't that way with Rod Bryden, but finances were more of a challenge back then and the arena was still new). And it's not just the big stuff, like scoreboards. Fans cried out when they replace the beloved Sens theme at the start of games with canned mainstream rock, and the organization reversed the move partway through the season. They even changed the ugly socks brought in under the new Reebok uniform system and brought back the real stripes. The Senators may make some mistakes off the ice from time to time, but they aren't too stubborn to bow to the fans wishes.....
....I wonder how many Rogers subscribers were in disbelief when they went to watch the game in HD and found only a baseball game for the first 10 minutes or so? They were showing the game on standard definition on channel 27, but the HD feed was nowhere to be found. Not on Sportsnet Ontario and not on Sportsnet East (blacked out!!). There was even a shot of Bryan Murray in his box next to a widescreen TV that was showing the baseball game, undoubtedly tuned into what was supposed to be the Senators match. After a while, the game was switched onto the Ontario channel, but it makes you wonder.
Would this ever happen to the Toronto Maple Leafs? Of course not. Trying to watch an Ottawa Senators game on television in Ottawa is sometimes a 50/50 proposition. Good job Sportsnet. Who was asleep at the Sportsnet controls in downtown Toronto, Bill Watters?