It's one last dress rehearsal for the real thing.
And when Sens Army supporters arrive at Scotiabank Place for tonight's pre-season finale between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers (7 p.m., Rogers 22, Team 1200), they might well be getting a sneak peek at the lineup the home side will take into the regular season.
It's a veteran-laden group, indeed, that includes the six defencemen and 12 forwards that could form the opening-night lineup next Friday, when the Buffalo Sabres visit Scotiabank Place for the teams' regular-season opener (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200).
Thirty-two players still remain on the Senators roster, including defenceman Filip Kuba
(broken leg), who is likely out of the lineup until at least the end of October. Senators head coach Cory Clouston expects to announce final roster cuts sometime on Sunday.
The only so-called "bubble guy" in tonight's lineup would be defenceman David Hale, who has been duelling for a spot on the blue line with youngsters Jared Cowen
and Patrick Wiercioch
, who won't see action this evening.
Beyond the lineup details, tonight also provides the Senators with one final opportunity to do some tuning up before the regular season gets underway.
"System wise, I think we can tighten up and it's been getting better every game during the pre-season," captain Daniel Alfredsson
said earlier today. "(It's about) fine-tuning things. But the effort has to be there. Last night (a 5-4 shootout loss in New York) was a really good game and I thought both teams played pretty well.
"Especially the last two periods, I thought we played really well. We want to just continue building on that and build confidence come next week."
Pascal Leclaire is expected to play the full 60 minutes in goal for Ottawa tonight. While Clouston agreed tonight's game is an important for the goaltender, it won't necessarily be a deciding factor in whether Leclaire or Brian Elliott enters the season as the starter.
"It’s not a do or die game for (Leclaire) and it wasn’t a do or die game for Brian last night," said Clouston.
The Senators' lineup for tonight's pre-season finale against the Rangers at Scotiabank Place:Goaltenders —
Pascal Leclaire, Brian Elliott.Defence —
Chris Campoli, Matt Carkner
, Sergei Gonchar
, David Hale, Erik Karlsson
, Chris Phillips
.Forwards — Daniel Alfredsson
, Mike Fisher, Nick Foligno
, Chris Kelly, Alex Kovalev, Milan Michalek
, Chris Neil
, Peter Regin
, Jarkko Ruutu, Ryan Shannon, Zack Smith
, Jason Spezza