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The Ottawa Senators took their game to the East Coast today against the Florida Panthers. A few Senators got to play back where their junior hockey careers started in Cape Breton. Drake Batherson, Egor Sokolov, and Kevin Mandolese got to suit up in front of some of their biggest fans, although Mandolese was, unfortunately, the backup. Batherson made sure the Cape Breton fans got a show by putting up 4 points on the night. Check out below for notes on last night’s game.
Drake Batherson Explodes For 4 Points
Drake Batherson was undoubtedly the game’s first star. He was put on a line with Roby Järventie and Jiri Smejkal, who all had great games tonight. Batherson was the best player on the ice by a mile. He was constantly creating high-danger chances for himself and his linemates while contributing to all 4 goals. His puck skills were mesmerizing tonight; he made the game look so easy, and Panthers defenders could not keep up with him.
Drake Batherson tonight showed why he is one of the most exciting players to watch in a Senators uniform. He has quickly become one of the more underrated forwards in Ottawa with the emergence of Tim Stützle and Brady Tkachuk. But he deserves more recognition for what he has shown. After a tough season last year plagued by nagging injuries, Batherson has looked like he is back in 2021-2022 form.
When Batherson is at his best, he uses his skating and hands to create plays. Over the pre-season, his skating has improved tremendously compared to last year. Batherson had mentioned that his ankle is just starting to feel 100% again, and it’s showing on the ice.
He has looked so much better this pre-season, and his confidence also seems to be growing. Look no further than his assist on the game-winning goal by Parker Kelly. After receiving the pass, Batherson made a beautiful toe drag past the sprawled-out defender before selling the shot and dishing a pass to Park Kelly, who had a wide-open net.
But as I mentioned before, Batherson was involved in all 4 goals tonight. The game’s first goal from Jiri Smejkal was also created from a beautiful Batherson pass. After carrying the puck through the neutral zone, Batherson made a cross-ice saucer pass from just inside the blue line right onto the tape of Smejkal. Smejkal finished the play with a snipe into the top right corner with enough power to get the puck stuck in the twine behind Spencer Knight.
Here comes another Batherson assist on yet another pre-season goal for Roby Järventie. The Sens entered the zone on a broken 3 on 2 rush. Drake Batherson was carrying the puck on his backhand when he made a sweet pass right into the wheelhouse of Roby Järventie, who was moving down the middle. Järventie quickly touched the puck before firing it past Spencer Knight.
The Sens would add a pair of goals later on as well. I have already discussed the Parker Kelly goal, so I will avoid repeating that. Finally, Drake Batherson sealed the deal with an empty netter to give the Sens a 4-2 win.
Anton Forsberg Rock Solid Performance Again
If anybody had any doubts about Forsberg’s abilities post-knee surgery, they have certainly been put to rest. After a great first game in the pre-season, Forsberg doubled down with another excellent showing against Florida.
He was quick to pucks all night, and his compete level was off the charts. No matter how dangerous the opportunity looked, it never seemed like he was out on a play. His lateral movement was great, and he looks more comfortable than ever, which is excellent news.
One play in particular that caught my eye was a save by Forsberg, where he ended up in the splits. As someone coming off of a double knee surgery, there could be some physical and/or mental barriers to overcome on the ice. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Forsberg, who has had no problem using his athleticism to make uncomfortable saves. He continues to make me feel more and more confident about the Sens tandem going into this season.
Roby Järventie Does It Again
After not really being discussed as a potential candidate to make the Ottawa roster, Roby Järventie has outplayed all expectations. I have always been high on Järventie, and I did mention him as a sneaky candidate that I could see making the roster over the off-season. But I would be lying if I said I would expect him to play as well as he has this pre-season.
Järventie has been a goal-scoring machine so far through 5 pre-season games. Tonight was his 3rd goal and 4th point of the pre-season. Järventie is making it very difficult to send him down to Belleville with the production he’s had. If Pinto remains unsigned to start the season, I expect Järventie will be in Ottawa to start the year.
Jiri Smejkal Continued To Impress
After being a wildcard coming into camp, Jiri Smejkal has turned a lot of heads. The Senator’s free agent signing has shown much promise during his time with Ottawa in the pre-season. For a team that has been looking to bolster their fourth line, Smejkal could be a solid option.
He has outperformed the likes of Kastelic, Kelly, and MacEwen up to this point, but with the system DJ Smith likes to use, I wouldn’t be surprised if he still favours the other players. If I controlled the team, Smejkal would definitely be getting a shot in the bottom 6 to start the season.
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