by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators fans will be treated to more than superb hockey action tonight when the Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs for their home-opener at Scotiabank Place.
Scotiabank Place's new on-ice video-projection system - only the second permanent installation of its kind in North America -- will be featured in the pre-game ceremonies. Director of game entertainment Glen Gower thinks fans will be amazed by the show.
"When we first turned it on we just watched it non-stop for an hour. We couldn't take our eyes off it for the better part of the afternoon. This is the largest video screen in Ottawa. It's 200 feet wide. It's huge. We're going to have access to this every game this season."
Gower says some of the video featured tonight will include exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Senators players preparing for a game in the team's dressing room.
The opening ceremonies will also feature the introduction of each Senators player with a minor hockey player. OPP constable Lyndon Slewidge will be accompanied by the Governor General's Foot Guards Band during the singing of O Canada.
Fans are invited to the pre-game plaza party in front of Gate 1 at Scotiabank Place, which will feature musical entertainment, games for children and a refreshment tent. When fans enter Scotiabank Place, they'll be given a Senators pocket schedule and car flag.
The players are determined to keep the excitement growing when the puck is dropped tonight against their provincial rivals, whom they defeated 4-1 in the season-opener last night in Toronto.
"The fans are excited, and we're excited," centre Jason Spezza says. "This is the first real look at the team for the fans, and we want to make a good impression. We're always pumped up to play at home, but the first game is a little more special."
Alternate captain Wade Redden expects the pre-game festivities to lead to a quick start for his club.
"The first night is always exciting. The ceremony before the game should get everyone charged up. We want to have a good start at home, that's definitely a goal for tonight."
Malec in for Preissing
Defenceman Tomas Malec was recalled from Binghamton this morning and will replace Tom Preissing on the Senators blueline tonight. Preissing sustained a lower-body injury after running into the boards during last night's 4-1 win over Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. The newcomer said there's a good chance he would be ready to play Saturday when the Senators host the Buffalo Sabres.