And so it begins.
The long road to redemption for the Ottawa Senators began last night versus the New York Rangers in a game only Ed Hochuli could truly appreciate.
Yes, as was the case last week in the Chargers-Broncos NFL game, the referees decided they were going to determine he outcome of this game as they called a mind-boggling 21 penalties.
Let me assure you, this is no Sens homer-ism, the calls were atrocious on both sides, with the mere passing of gas qualifying as interference.
Of course when a player gets rammed head first into the board, as was the case with Sens prospect Danny Bois, our fine, striped friends were nowhere in sight, truly horrid officiating.
I understand that the NHL wants to reinforce their zero tolerance for obstruction stance, but at least half of the calls were completely phantom.
Anyway back to the game itself.
The shot clock was generally not indicative of the balance of play, the Sens had this game in hand early with a blast from Dany Heatley.
Some observations, keeping mind this is game one of preseason:
- Despite being named "4th star" by local broadcaster Team 1200 (not sure what game they were watching), Jesse Winchester was largely ineffective and underwhelming.
- The pairing of Jason Smith and Filip Kuba looked good, Smith set up the Heatley goal with a nice pass and the Kuba-Smith pairing has the making of a very effective defensive set.
- Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley were a bit rusty but were clearly the best two players on the ice, good to see.
- Antoine Vermette was a ghost, barely knew he was playing.
- Nick Folgino, who is being touted as a possible second line center was full of energy and effort but not overly effective. Keep in mind that his proposed linemate Daniel Alfredsson was a late scratch.
- Jarkko Ruutu is a keeper, he's one of those guys that you hate when you are playing against him but love when he's on your team. He's going to be a fan favourite.
- The line of Neil-Fisher-Ruutu is going to be hell for the opposition to play against.
- Christoph Schubert didn't do himself any favours, he was bad, really bad, getting burned all night.
- Brian Lee didn't impress either, jittery with the puck, poor decisions on the powerplay, not a good start.
- Alexandre Picard was a bit skittish as well but looked OK.
- The powerplay in general was horrid, but it needs to be said that the team has had all of three practices and no scrimmages.
- Penalty kill was good, and obviously got lots of practice.
- I thought both goals were a bit weak, one on Gerber and one on Elliot, but both goalies were solid otherwise.
- At the beginning of each season I always like to look around the rink and see what changes have been made to Scotiabank Place. This season there seems to be none which is disappointing. Eugene Melnyk needs to concentrate less on soccer and put some money into that building, the scoreboard is antiquated and the parking lot is still not paved. How can you charge $10 to park in the suburbs and not even pave the thing?
- Where was the Sens Theme? This is going to be a major issue. When the Sens came out onto the ice they were greeted not by their traditional theme song, but instead by the 80s synth-pop, instrumental bore "The Final Countdown". I'm going to chalk it up to preseason jitters but if I don't hear the Sens Theme in time for the regular season there will be hell to pay.