Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thanks for Coming Out, 2013 Ottawa Senators

The last Canadian team is out of the NHL playoffs and they extend the Stanley Cup drought for the nation to 20 years. Of course, this Senators team as a 7th seed would have been one of the most unlikely teams out there to take the Cup, but even with an injury riddled roster through the season, they were still good enough to actually make the playoffs thanks to a big enough point lead built between themselves and others.

Yet, the biggest question will be whether or not Daniel Alfredsson will come back for one last hurrah. His actions after Game Four (picking up the puck at the end, doubting a comeback) were blown out of proportions (shock), but it could be the inevitable ending to a storied career of a franchise player. Sticking with the Senators through thick and very thin-- Alfredsson will probably leave, passing the torch to Jason Spezza and hoping that his body can hold up to taking that franchise tag.

Overall, though, this is a pretty young team with a lot of unknown names to those who didn't spend a lot of time studying the Northeast Division all that much. While Spezza, Kyle Turris, and Milan Michalek are recognizable names to most; the new breed of Cory Conacher, Colin Greening, and Jakob Silfverberg are going to start making a name and if Ottawa can hold onto them, could prove to be a huge home-grown revival for the team. Add Mika Zibanejad and Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the mix of young guns and this is a team that's long as they stay together.

Defensively, this Sens team is Erik Karlsson's as he has been brought up well by Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar in order to get him accustomed to the NHL game. His quick adaptation (and healing powers) is something that will help him lead other young guys like Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch. Much like the forwards, the defense has a chasing of the guard coming, but luckily have the right parts in place in order to make it a smooth transition.

Goaltending is solid, with Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner being the tandem going down the road. One of the things will be how much time Lehner will get with Anderson healthy for a full slate of games. The development of Lehner has been up and down, but it seems it's finally settling in for now.

A young team that has somewhat overachieved in the last two seasons, but building blocks for the future is what the focus is on now. With Paul MacLean being a solid coach for the young guys, the Sens should be able to get even better, though they'll have a lot more competition in the new divisional setting.

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