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Last call at hand for Sens?

Final roster decisions could be on hold until pre-season finale

Monday, 09.21.2009 / 3:47 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Last call at hand for Sens?
Zack Smith and a few Senators prospects might get two more pre-season chances to show they're ready to earn a roster spot (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
So this might not be the final audition after all.

After a hectic round of game action last week, the Ottawa Senators' pre-season schedule is now down to a pair of dates: tonight's matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Brandt Centre in Regina (9 p.m., no TV, Team 1200) and the Boston Bruins' visit to Scotiabank Place on Friday night (7 p.m., TSN2, Team 1200).

With a handful of cuts still to be made, it might be suggested a few final verdicts will be rendered after the game against the Bolts. But Senators head coach Cory Clouston suggested today he might wait until after both games are played this week before sorting out his final roster, which currently sits at 28 players (three goaltenders, nine defencemen and 16 forwards).

"It depends on how the game goes tonight," Clouston said after the Senators' pre-game skate. "We have a couple of different options, but I don’t know if we’re going to do anything until after the Boston game. There’s a good chance we might not do anything until after the Boston game.

"There’s no urgency right now. We have a pretty good idea of what we’ve got here, but we’ll wait and see how the game goes tonight."

That being said, tonight's contest still represents an opportunity for younger players such as defenceman Erik Karlsson and forwards Peter Regin and Zack Smith, who are all pushing for jobs, to take another positive step in that direction.

Complicating matters is the status of injured forward Jesse Winchester, who suffered a right knee injury in Saturday's 6-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens and is expected to be sidelined for at least three weeks.

"Nothing is a given," said Clouston. "If guys don’t perform, there could be changes after tonight’s game. But there’s a good chance we’re going to have this same group of guys for the next two games."

One for the road?

If this is indeed defenceman Jared Cowen's last pre-season game appearance with the Senators, what an occasion it will be. Ottawa's top pick (ninth overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft is a Saskatchewan native who couldn't be more thrilled to suit up in front of the home province fans tonight.

"It feels a little bit more comfortable," said the native of Allan, Sask., whose family now resides in Saskatoon. "Coming back (here) feels a little more like home, so it’s a good feeling."

Cowen saw his first pre-season action on Friday in Montreal. Before that, he hadn't played since suffering a major knee injury in a Jan. 30 game with his junior team, the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He is expected to be returned to Spokane after tonight's game.

In the meantime, he'll savour the chance to play with his future National Hockey League team before the home folks.

"I can’t remember (a National Hockey League game) happening here when I was growing up," he said. "It’s a hockey province here, so it’s going to get a lot of attention. I know my family’s all coming up."

Around the boards

Senators lines during this afternoon's pre-game skate at the Brandt Centre looked like this: Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Alex Kovalev; Nick Foligno-Peter Regin-Mike Fisher; Zack Smith-Ryan Shannon-Jonathan Cheechoo; Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil ... Brian Elliott will play the full 60 minutes in goal, with Mike Brodeur serving as the backup ... Not making the trip to Regina were goaltender Pascal Leclaire, defencemen Anton Volchenkov and Alex Picard, and forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Shean Donovan, Jesse Winchester and Christoph Schubert.




1 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
2 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
3 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
4 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
5 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
6 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
7 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
8 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


E. Karlsson 82 21 45 7 66
M. Stone 80 26 38 21 64
K. Turris 82 24 40 5 64
B. Ryan 78 18 36 5 54
M. Hoffman 79 27 21 16 48
M. Zibanejad 80 20 26 0 46
C. MacArthur 62 16 20 -6 36
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
D. Legwand 80 9 18 1 27
A. Chiasson 76 11 15 -5 26
C. Anderson 14 13 8 .923 2.49
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02