Thursday, September 20, 2007
The Ottawa Senators will win the Stanley Cup. That is all.
In all seriousness, Ottawa fans are likely going to be blessed with another winning season from the Senators. Expectations are high (as always), and there is no reason to believe the team cannot deliver. If we have seen anything over the last few seasons it is that anyone has a shot, and Ottawa has as good a shot as anyone (and better than most).
Once again, Ottawa is being picked as a Cup favourite by many media outlets, and is projected to finish atop the Eastern Conference standing by many people. Whether or not this happens is up for debate, but barring a colossal collapse you can be sure the Senators will at least be in the playoffs hunting for the Cup next season. With that being said, let’s examine the Senators in the standard 3 categories:
Ottawa did lose some scoring when Mike Comrie and Peter Schaefer left this year, but it does not have many fans too worried. The expectation is that youth will develop to fill their roles, namely Patrick Eaves and Antoine Vermette.
Eaves will have to bounce back from a somewhat dissapointing sophmore year and become the 20+ goal scorer he was as a rookie in 2005-06. Many see him playing wing on the first line with Heatley and Spezza, and if he manages to stick there it is almost impossible for him not to improve over last years numbers.
Vermette is going to have yet another chance to shine in Ottawa, and the hope is that he will finally show us what he has. The expectation is that he will fill in as the second line centre, with Alfredsson on the wing. Vermette has shown that he has awesome hands and is good in the faceoff circle, but now he will have to show that he can be consistent while playing a big role for the team.
Once again, Ottawa should be among the league leaders in GF.
While many around the league have viewed the loss of Priessing as a major blow to Ottawa’s defence core, it should have little to no impact. It seems a lot of people were lulled in by his outstanding +/- rating (hell, he was the highest Senator’s defensemen in Norris voting), but they fail to realize he was our 6th defencemen, playing against grinders.
Stepping in to replace Priessing will likely be Schubert, Ottawa’s renessance man. Schubert will bring a far more physical, in-your-face game – something Ottawa needs on the back end. He will likely be paired with Corvo to form Ottawa’s 3rd pairing, which is not too shabby.
Phillips and Volchenkov will once again anchor our D, and the only expectation if for Volchenkov to improve. Arguably the best shutdown duo in the league (ESPN even has Philips winning the Norris this year), the two should be able to stop anyone who comes their way.
Filliing out the middle will be Redden and Meszaros – both badly needing to rebound from disastrous years. Redden had probably his worst year in the NHL, and Meszaros suffered a terrible sophmore jinx. If both bounce back to what we saw in 2005-06, Ottawa should have one of the best defensive units in the NHL.
Ottawa will get solid but not spectacular goaltending again this year. Emery and Gerber provide one of the better duo’s in the league, and should push eachother. The only upside to having a $3.7m backup is that you know you have a capable goalie to step in if your starter is injured for long periods of time.
Emery has a lot to prove this year. Coming off a great season even more is expected of him. He will finally be playing healthy after receiving surgery on his glove hand wrist (something that nagged him nearly all of last season), and he is looked at in Ottawa as the next coming of Christ. While I certainly don’t view him that way, he has shown that he is a top 15 starter in the league, and hopefull will be able to steal a few games for Ottawa.
Overall, things are looking good in Ottawa. Of course, you never know what will happen on the ice, but we are at least in a good position to make a push for the Cup, and hopefully this year they will know what it takes.
TJ - SensHQ
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