Overview: It’s no secret the Ottawa Senators are a streaky team. They go on massive winning streaks, followed by crippling losing streaks. It’s cost them playoff spots before (almost did in 2008, and actually did in 2009).
Sens fans should expect more of the losing streaks than the winning streaks this season. Jason Spezza will have a bounce-back season, and Milan Michalek should be better. But Mike Fisher will step back to his normal production, and Daniel Alfredsson has seen his numbers decrease each of the three seasons (look for the 38-year-old captain to finish with 20 goals and 65 points this year). And who knows what to expect from Alexei Kovalev.
Their goaltending is suspect, their defence is weaker, and they don’t have much scoring prowess (no offence to guys like Chris Kelly, Peter Regin, Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon).
In all, it doesn’t look like the playoffs are in the cards for the Senators.
Best offseason move: Signing Sergei Gonchar. Some may think he got too much ($16.5 million) for too many years (3) with too many fringe benefits (a no-trade clause), but Gonchar will help this team where they need it most. He’ll play about 25 minutes a game, and help a powerplay that was 22nd in the league last year. The Sens management knew its weaknesses, and took steps to try and rectify it.
Worst offseason move: Not getting a shutdown defenceman, which will kill their goalies this season. The Sens had trouble in nets last year (and the year before, and the year before, etc. etc.), and that was with shot-blocking machine Anton Volchenkov playing. They also lost Andy Sutton, who is a big guy that can clear the front of the net and lay people out with ferocious bodychecks. With Gonchar not being a great defensive player, that means the goalies will face more shots and see more traffic in front of them. Not a good sign if they were already having trouble before.
Dark horse trophy candidate: Erik Karlsson for the Lady Byng.
Pool pick: Milan Michalek. If he and Jason Spezza can stay healthy, Michalek should be good for about 60 points. Who to stay away from: Mike Fisher. I say this every year. His 25 goals and 53 points were a career year for him. Don’t anticipate him doing it again. In truth, he’ll probably finish with about 43 points. His stats were inflated because he had a good start to the year, but he finished off the season with 12 points in 25 games. Which is pretty much his career per-game average.
Best hall of fame choice: Daniel Alfredsson. But he doesn’t deserve to be there (read here to find out why).
Blog to follow: Five for Smiting
My Prediction: Third in the Northeast, Ninth in the East
Famous celebrity from that city: Sarah Chalke