It has been a week since the bittersweet loss in the first round for the Ottawa Senators. Bitter because they were so very close to knocking off the top seeded New York Rangers, but sweet because very few people have the Sens a chance to be there in the first place.
After a week of reflection about the 2011-12 season as a whole, there was a lot for fans to get excited about. There were also some lows that also have to be addressed. Over the next few days I will be puuting a wrap on the season and look ahead to the near future and what the Senators need to do to continue the momentum they built this season.
Today, a look back at the best of the season.
After many questions were raised the previous season, this was a year for the return to format of a number of veteran players. At the top of that list is the Captain, Daniel Alfredsson. After a frustrating 2010-11 season followed by off-season back surgery, the now 39-year-old showed he still has the game to be a solid top six forward in this league. Also having turnaround seasons were a number of blueliners. Chris Phillips, Sergei Gonchr, and Filip Kuba all answered a multitude of questions that arose last season about thief ability to play for a contender.
2. Hardware Hopefuls
Three Senators have been nominated for season-ending league awards. Alfredsson is a finalist for the Bill Masterson award, Coach Paul MacLean a finalist for the Jack Adams (coach of the year) and Erik Karlsson for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. We will not find out for over a month if any or All of the nominees will win, but the recognition for their efforts is another feather in the cap for this season.
3. All-Star Weekend
Ottawa was the Centre of the hockey universe in January’s as they hosted the best players in the league for the NHL’s All-Star Weekend. Four Senators were voted in as starters; Karlsson, Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michael. Alfie was selected as a captain and almost managed a storybook ending but his pair of goals wasn’t enough to earn MVP honors.
Daniel Alfredsson passed a major career milestone on December 30th when his overtime winner against the Calgary Flames was his 400th career goal. In a season that. Could have been his swan song, the milestone was deserving and contributed to the overall morale and sense of “family” that developed on the Senators this season.
For a player that has given his heart and soul to the franchise but doesn’t get the recognition because of his style of play, Chris Phillips’ 1000th game celebration was a great moment for the “Big Rig” as he became the 2nd player to play 1000 games in a Senators uniform. The cherry on the Sundae was that he scored a pair of goals in the win over Nashville.
6. Karlsson Breakout
Perhaps the biggest contributing factor to the surprising season in Ottawa was they play of Karlsson. He put up offensive numbers the likes of which haven’t been seen since the early 90′s. He amassed nearly a point per game over the season and vaulted himself into the elite NHL blueliners the Senators were expecting, perhaps a few years earlier than expected.
These are but a few items that made the Ottawa Senators season such an exciting one for the fans and players alike