The Ottawa Senators are no doubt one of the NHL’s up and coming young teams. Last year’s success caught many off guard in that the playoffs came so quickly after the tearing down of the franchise and rebuilding the.
That being said, there were more changes in the off season and the team they will take to the ice on Saturday in Winnipeg will be different than the team that left the ice after bowing out to the Rangers in seven hard fought games.
So the question on the minds of many Senators fans is, Did the Senators take steps forward or will they take astep backward to where many thought they would be last season?
Let’s look at some of the big factors:
- In the net, the Senators are much better offthan they were for most of last season. Whoever wins the backup job between Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner will be able to spell Craig Anderson off much more capably than Alex Auld could last year. Anderson won’t need to make 20+ straight starts because the coach doesn’t have confidence in the backup to step in and perform. 2 STEPS FORWARD
- Not resigning Filip Kuba leaves a question mark as to who plays with Erik Karlsson. Kuba insulated Karlsson last year and was a factor in Karlsson’s Norris Trophy season. Now Karlsson will need to adjust to a new partner (likely Marc Methot)as well as the new brighter spotlight. 1 STEP BACK
- Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar have started the decline in their effectiveness and injuries to Jared Cowen (season) and Mike Lundin (short term) will force both to play top 4 minutes. 1 STEP BACK
- Patrick Wiercioch and Mark Borowiecki have both had strong seasons in Binghamton and will likely start the season as the 5 & 6 defensemen until Lundin returns. 1 STEP FORWARD
- The fist line, anticipated to consist of Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Jacob Silfverberg, should be more dangerous than last year’s version with Colin Greening on the wing. Greening was adequate but Silfverberg has had a taste of North American Hockey and is ready to have an offensive impact in the NHL. 1 STEP FORWARD
- Newcomer Guillaume Latendresse is pencilled in to start on the second line alongside Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson. I am not sold on his ability to score enough or stay healthy enough to remain on a scoring line. 1 STEP BACK
- However, if Latendresse falters, there is depth on the roster (Peter Regin, Colin Greening ) or in Binghamton (Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad) to step in and fill the void. 1 STEP FORWARD
- The bottom six forwards are deep and talented. Peter Regin, Chris Neil, Colin Greening, Erik Condra, Zack Smith, Kaspars Daugavins appear to be the group that will make up lines 3 and 4. 1 STEP FORWARD
- In Paul MacLean, theSenators know what is expected of them and he has proven his ability to get the best from his players and put them in a position to succeed. He is the best coach GM Bryan Murray has had since…Bryan Murray and offers consistency. 1 STEP FORWARD