Found September 12, 2013 on
This 2013-14 NHL season preview features the Ottawa Senators. The Senators accomplished quite a bit last year considering what they had to work with. They played a large chunk of the season without Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson in the lineup. There aren’t too many teams that can remain in the playoff hunt despite losing their entire starting lineup plus. There are even fewer that can upset the 2nd seed in their conference come playoff time. One has to wonder how good the Senators could have been had they not had the quantity of injuries they did to key contributors. What went right in 2012-13 If there was a bright spot to their starting goaltender getting injured, it was that the Senators got a glimpse of the future that awaits young netminder Robin Lehner. He put up spectacular numbers with Anderson out: a .936 save percentage and 2.20 GAA. He performed so well that the team felt comfortable trading Ben Bishop to Tampa Bay part way through the season. By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons With Spezza out, it was up to Kyle Turris to assume the role of #1 center. He performed pretty well for playing above his spot and notched 29 points and a +6 in 48 games playing against top defenders every night. In the playoffs he excelled, scoring 6 goals in 10 games. Another player who saw an increased role was Patrick Weircioch, thanks to an injury to Erik Karlsson. The rookie defenseman scored 19 points in 42 games, with 7 of those coming on the power-play. The Senators had the best penalty kill in the NHL last season despite giving up over 31 shots per game. In addition, only the Chicago Blackhawks had a lower goals against average than the Senators’ 2.08. Playing such a wide open, speedy, offensive style, posting those kinds of numbers gives you an idea of the kind of season both Lehner and Craig Anderson had. What went wrong in 2012-13 Injuries, injuries and more injuries. Teams don’t like using them as an excuse for their shortcomings, but if there was ever a team that rightfully could, it’s last year’s Sens. Take away any team’s top 3 forwards, top 2 defensemen and starting goaltender and I’m not sure any of them absorb the impact of such losses as well as Ottawa did. After starting off red hot in Tampa Bay, rookie Cory Conacher struggled once he was acquired by the Senators in the Ben Bishop trade. He posted just 2 goals and 5 points in 12 games, and with Bobby Ryan, Milan Michalek and Clarke MacArthur locking up 3 of the top 4 spots on the wings, he’ll have to beat out some competition to land in the top 6. Although the Senators put up a league leading 33.1 shots per game last season, they were 27th in the NHL with just 2.33 goals scored per game. They’re going to need to start converting more of their chances if they want to be considered one of the top teams in their division. Improving the 22nd ranked power-play would go a long way towards scoring more goals. The return of Spezza and Karlsson will certainly help, but don’t discount the loss of veteran Sergei Gonchar, who signed with Dallas this off-season. So what did they do to get better? After learning that long time captain Daniel Alfredsson was heading to the Red Wings, the Senators had a big hole to fill on right wing. They made a huge splash acquiring Bobby Ryan from Anaheim for Jacob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a draft pick. Ryan is one of the more dynamic young goal scorers in the league and should be a perfect complement to Jason Spezza. He’s a powerful skater, has excellent hands and still has untapped potential. Another new addition to the top 6 will be former Maple Leaf Clarke MacArthur. He’ll bring some decent offense and a good forecheck to the Sens’ forward lines and should provide Kyle Turris with more than what he’s had to work with so far in Ottawa on the second line. Playing the role of the veteran dman who can contribute on the power-play this season will be Joe Corvo, who was signed to a one-year, $900,000 deal this summer. While he will not provide the same amount of offense and quality minutes Ottawa got from Gonchar, he’s a solid pick up at a very cap friendly price. ERI_4720 by sarah_connors Attribution 2.0 Generic license via Flickr Player to watch Bobby Ryan. This is the time to fulfill his 40-goal, 85-point potential. Many forget he was the second player drafted behind Sidney Crosby in 2005 and for good reason. He’s got good size, great skating ability, fantastic hands and a dangerous shot. Getting a fresh start in Ottawa and playing with one of the league’s premier passers in Spezza should ignite Ryan. Look for a career season. They will make the playoffs if… There are no chemistry issues with so many new faces in important roles for the Senators. They’re without their captain for the first time since 1995. They will miss the playoffs if… They get as banged up as last year. I can’t see this team being able to sustain 5 major injuries again. Once was incredible. Twice is unlikely. Trade bait If the team struggles this season, especially early on, Chris Phillips may finally moved on from Ottawa. He’s in the last year of his contract and there is doubt whether or not he will return to the Senators next season. Rookie most likely to have an impact Jean-Gabriel Pageau took the league by storm in last year’s playoffs scoring 4 goals and 6 points in 10 games. Look for him to be the leading candidate to fight Conacher for a top 6 role. What should we expect this season? The Senators are a very well coached team. They have developed a system where any scratch or AHL call-up can step in and fill in seamlessly, which doesn’t disrupt the team’s game plan. They have some good upside outside the top guns in Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad and Jared Cowen who should all take another step forward this season. Look for much of the same from the Senators as they play a wide-open, up-tempo game with a very aggressive forecheck. With a healthy lineup, they’ll be even more dangerous than last season. Prediction 43-27-12, 98 points, 3rd in the Atlantic division, 5th in the Eastern Conference The post 2013-14 NHL Season Preview: Ottawa Senators appeared first on

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