The day is finally here, as the Sens open their 2011-12 season with a stiff test against the ridiculously good and consistent Detroit Red Wings at the Joe in the D. Many experts have predicted the Sens to finish dead last in the NHL, so we should probably curb our expectations, but opening night could be an excellent chance to steal a win against a much better team than ours.
The start of a new season means a lot of firsts, so let's run down the firsts for tonight shall we. The big one is the first ever NHL game as head coach by new bench boss Paul MacLean, who ironically has to face his old team in his old city the first time out. I don't know that much about MacLean yet, but I do know I love his style of play, I love his mustache and he is intimidating as hell. I believe he will be an excellent coach and his era starts tonight. He seems like a no nonsense kind of guy. I can appreciate that.
Next up is Mika Zibanejad, who as just an 18 year old, will be making his NHL debut in a legendary arena that has a rich history of Swede's playing in it. He has to be pumped up. The 6th overall pick from June's draft has 9 games to show he belongs here this season and proving it begins tonight. I think the kid will be fine and expect him to stay the rest of the season. He tweeted about it and I don't know where you're from but 2 exclamation points = crazy excited where I'm from.
I know some of are you may be saying what about Cowen and Da Costa, but you may have forgotten that each have played a game or 2 in the league before at the end of a season, so this won't be there debuts. There will be 2 scratches tonight: Newly signed UFA Zenon Konopka is sitting this one out, as well as heralded rookie David Rundblad will also be watching this one from the press box. Craig Anderson starts in goal.
The lines for tonight will be:
- Foligno-Da Costa-Neil
and the defensive pairings will be:
Interesting to see that "sniper" Bobby Butler has been moved all the way down to the 4th line, which seems pointless to me really. He isn't fast enough, tough enough, physical enough or defensive enough to contribute much on the 4th. Perhaps that's a result of his poor pre-season and they have him there but plan on giving him some PP time. I'm also happy to see Brian Lee is not a scratch as was rumored. I think he's a solid player and deserves a chance to finally play and show what he's got. Not a fan of Da Costa but I will give the kid a chance.
Local Flavor: There are 2 former Sens on the Red Wings roster in Mike Commodore and Patrick Eaves. It seems Eaves will be a healthy scratch tonight however.
Weird fact of the game:
So this seems like good news right? Take it to the bank.
Media Coverage: The game will be on TV on RDS and Sportsnet and on the radio on Team 1200.
Prediction: Let's be honest shall we. The Senators are our team and we love them, but we are not in the same league as the Detroit Red Wings. We have a lot of young, inexperienced players, while the Red Wings are the complete opposite. Realistically I'd be happy with a good showing and seeing some young guys show some flashes of brilliance. It will be tough for the Sens to steal a point tonight but I do think that Cowen and Zibanejad will play well, with the latter registering his first NHL point. Sens play hard but ultimately fall 3-1.
Thoughts on the opener?
Let's hear your hopes and predictions Sens fans. Post them in the comment section. Hockey is back ladies and gentleman. Enjoy!