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Pre-season tests getting more crucial

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Just one chance to make a first impression.

That’s the opportunity – or dilemma, perhaps? – facing several of the hopefuls trying to impress Senators brass during training camp as Ottawa’s trip to Sweden for the season-opening NHL Premiere looms ever closer.

It means the Senators’ four games in the next six days – including tonight’s matchup with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York (7 p.m., no TV, Team 1200) – couldn’t be more crucial for some of the young talent still in camp, a number of whom will suit up against the Blueshirts.

“It shortens everything. Everything happens quicker for the evaluation part of it,” Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg said of the condensed pre-season following the team’s game-day skate. “Teams that aren’t going (to Europe) are playing seven, eight, nine games, so they get more games (than us). But that’s just the situation here.

“Some guys may only get one game to really show (what they can do), but there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s just the way it is. “

Hartsburg acknowledged “it may not be totally fair for everybody. But a young guy who comes in, he has one game to really open our eyes.

“Kids like (Ilya) Zubov and (Peter) Regin (both in the lineup tonight), it’s their chance to open our eyes. We think they’re both prospects for our team but whether it’s at the start of this year or sometime next year or whenever… we think they have a chance to be good NHL players. Tonight’s their chance to really show us something.”

Alex Auld makes his Senators debut in net tonight at MSG. He’ll tend goal for the first two periods, then turn matters over to Jeff Glass for the third.

On the Rangers side, former Senators defenceman Wade Redden – who signed with the Blueshirts as a free agent in July – faces off against his former team for the first time. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist also makes his pre-season debut.

Around the boards

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (hip/groin) skated this morning at Scotiabank Place and told reporters afterward that he’ll likely be in the lineup for Wednesday’s home game against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m., Rogers TV, Team 1200). Hartsburg continues to be careful with blueliner Alex Picard (groin), who didn’t skate today. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” said Hartsburg … The Senators close out the North American part of their pre-season schedule with a home-and-home set against the Canadiens: Friday in Montreal and Saturday at Scotiabank Place. Then the Sens board the plane Sunday for Gothenburg, Sweden, where they’ll face off against the Frolunda Indians on Oct. 2.

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