So way back on August 29th, 2011, yours truly wrote what might be my best (in hindsight) blog post ever. I outlined 7 reasons why the Senators would be better in 2011-12 than they were in 2010-11. This post came out of frustration that many (if not all) media outlets were coming out with their season preview and had the Senators finishing at or near the bottom of the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings.
So if Don Cherry can pat himself on the back every week, surely I can do the same…
I outlined 7 items that I felt would be different for this season. You can read the full post HERE, with all the details, but I will recap the points now:
1. Coaching – no doubt about it, the hiring of Paul MacLean was just what the doctor ordered for a change from Cory Clouston. MacLean will be a Jack Adams nominee for sure, and should be the winner in my opinion.
2. Goaltending – Brian Elliot was a better goalie than Craig Anderson this season. But Craig Anderson this season was a definite quantum leap from what they got from Elliott last year. There is still room for improvement in this area in terms of consistency, but Anderson was more than adequate on most nights.
3. Defense – Filip Kuba, Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar all had bounce-back seasons, and have shown that last year was just a blip on the radar for the veterans. Combine that with the explosion in talent from Erik Karlsson (to the level that even I couldn’t have foreseen) and the blue line was at least consistent and among the top scoring units in the league. Kuba, Phillips, Gonchar, Karlsson and Carkner finished a combined -106 last season. This season the same 5 players are +60.
4. Daniel Alfredsson – A successful surgery and the captain was back in form. Although not to the level of the “Pizza Line” days, Alfie put up 59 points and a +16 rating, almost double his production from last season and just shy of the 65 points I expected from him.
5. Jason Spezza – Health was the key as the centre played 80 games for only the second time in his career. He finished with 84 points and was 4th in NHL scoring.
6. Youthful Exuberance – Players like Jared Cowen, Erik Condra and Colin Greening were mainstays all season while appearances from the likes of Rob Klinkhammer, Jim O’Brien and Mark Borowiecki added to the atmosphere in the room and on the ice at times.
7. Morale & Motivation – More than anything, the team was playing with their head up more than with their heads down this season. Losses were inevitable with such a young inexperienced team, but they were always positive and that starts from the top down in the organization.
So as you can see, I pretty much had it pegged. I also predicted that Ottawa would finish in a playoff spot and that the Senators would have at least a 25 point improvement on their previous season. Please forgive me, it was only an 18 point improvement.