So much for a lockout hangover here. A crowd of 19,311 packed the Corel Centre for the Battle of Ontario last night, setting a record for a crowd at a Senators game (the increased capacity is due to increased standing room-only spaces, in case you were wondering).
For a pre-season game.
For what it's worth (not much, admittedly) this latest installment of the BOO had a different tone to it.
It had to do with Leafs tough guy Tie Domi, who's had his way with the Senators for years, being on his butt before the game was three minutes old, knocked down by Ottawa winger Brian McGrattan.
McGrattan later fought a dandy with Toronto's Nathan Perrott. Chris Neil scrapped with Clarke Wilm.
Mike Fisher got the better of Darcy Tucker.
That amounts to a good night -- pre-season or not -- for Senators fans.
McGrattan is having a good camp. He's proving capable of the agitator/enforcer role. He apparently got under the skin of Mario Lemieux and Penguins coach Ed Olczyk, too, Saturday night with some chirping.
As the game progressed last night, McGrattan showed he can play a bit, too.
His skating is decent as he showed when he hustled back to check Toronto's Alexander Steen and he had some effective shifts later in the game, generating a couple of scoring chances.
"When he plays the way he did the last couple of shifts, he's going to get a chance," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "As a coach, you can put him on. This is what he is at this point in his career, but I believe with some work and dedication he can get better."
"I was just focusing on keeping my feet moving and playing a sound positional game," said McGrattan. "You've got to do that at this level of the game."
McGrattan has shown he can do the job at this level. That doesn't mean he'll be one of the 20 when the Senators break camp next weekend.
It's going to depend on what Senators management and coaches want from the last couple of guys on their roster.
McGrattan is making his case.
HEAR AND THERE: The goaltenders' gloves are smaller this season, but not quite small enough for Tucker. He had a penalty shot in the second period and saw Senators G Dominik Hasek just get his hand on his rising backhander ... It wasn't a good night for Sideshow Bob. He didn't like the hit he got in the third from Fisher, challenged him to a fight and got waxed for his trouble. You gotta like Tucker standing up for himself, though.
LEMME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: Toronto's Mariusz Czerkawski might have an opinion on whether Ottawa rookie Brandon Bochenski has enough grit to make it in the NHL. Bochenski gave Czerkawski a pretty good check along the boards in the neutral zone in the first period last night ... It took until well into the third before either team took advantage of the more liberal no red-line rule. Ottawa's Jason Spezza took a pass for a break, but got poke-checked by Toronto G Mikael Tellqvist.
KISS THIS: Down in Toronto last weekend, Fisher got a cheer when he planted a kiss on the helmet of captain Daniel Alfredsson when they were on the Kiss Cam. The Leafs weren't biting last night, though. Veteran Steve Thomas and Steen got booed when they refused the pecking order.
THE BUZZ: If the Leafs are looking for some offence in the absence of Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk, it looks like rookie Kyle Wellwood could provide at least some of it. He had another goal for the Leafs last night and also had an assist. But don't look for Wellwood to get too involved in the rough stuff. In his last two years of junior, with the Windsor Spitfires, he had no penalty minutes. None. In two years. How do you do that? He only had four the year before that. Not an accidental hook, slash or high-stick? His name should be Nowood.
JUST WONDERING: I don't know how ready Martin Havlat is for the NHL season, but he looks like he's in perfect form for the Premiership. He used his head to make a nice pass to Wade Redden at the point in the first period ... Who was the Senator with the most ice time last night? Rookie Andrej Meszaros topped the list with 23 minutes and 55 seconds. He also tied for the team lead in hits with six and had four blocked shots.