by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators begin the 2006-07 pre-season schedule tonight against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in a neutral-site contest at the Metro Centre in Halifax, N.S. The game kicks off a series of nine pre-season contests for the Senators that will be played in the span of 12 days.
As previously announced, the Senators will alternate their two groups from training camp from game-to-game during the first six of nine pre-season contests. Tonight, it will be Group 1 facing the Pens - who aren't expected to have highly touted rookie Evgeni Malkin in the lineup, but will have 2006 second-overall draft pick Jordan Staal playing.
Defenceman Joe Corvo, who was signed by the Sens as a free agent on July 1 after playing the 2005-06 season with the Los Angeles Kings, is looking forward to some game action after a grueling training camp thus far.
"It's been a battle getting back into shape," he says. "This has been hard, definitely tougher than the camps in L.A."
While tonight's match marks the first pre-season game for Corvo in a Senators uniform, it's 2006 first-round draft pick Nick Foligno's first-ever NHL pre-season game.
"It's exciting," Foligno said after Monday's on-ice workout at Scotiabank Place. "It's just like being a kid back in the candy store again. I'm sure as soon as I get on the ice, I'll feel comfortable. It'll be good to bash someone else other than teammates."
Senators head coach Bryan Murray said Ray Emery will start in goal tonight and play half the game. Kelly Guard is scheduled to play the back end of the contest. Defenceman Michal Barinka has been skating with Group 2 in training camp, but will join Group 1 for the game tonight. Players from Group 1 who are not making the trip are Arttu Luttinen, Jean-Claude Sawyer, Neil Petruic and Chanse Fitzpatrick.