Saturday, April 24, 2010

What's Next: Ottawa Senators 2010

Through a summer of turmoil and losing a key cog to their scoring puzzle, the Ottawa Senators did a decent job to get into the playoffs, despite being a minus-13 in goal differential, the worst of all the playoff teams. However, even though Cory Clouston did an admirable job, there's still a lot to be done for this team to be a serious Cup contender again.

Obviously, the goal-scoring should be the number one issue. With Dany Heatley out of the equation, the goal scoring actually went up by 12 goals, but somehow it didn't seem like nearly enough, since the 225 of this year is down from 261 two seasons ago. While there were signs of scoring like from Mike Fisher and Milan Michalek; the true sense of secondary scoring-- or primary scoring for that matter-- wasn't prevalent all season. Even though Daniel Alfredsson remained consistent, the injuries to Jason Spezza slowed him down and Alex Kovalev only gave enough to have people give him another shot at redeeming himself. The main cogs will be there next year with the Sens, so maybe if they can stay healthy, they'll get back to scoring in droves.

Goaltending is another issue, as neither Brian Elliott or Pascal Leclaire seemed to want to be the top guy in Ottawa. Both has streaks of good play, but injuries to Leclaire and inconsistency to Elliott hampered the team down the stretch, though Leclaire may have redeemed himself with his playoff performance. Many wonder if Mike Brodeur could have been the break-out guy for the Sens if he wasn't a victim of the numbers game. Going into the season, everyone had Leclaire pegged as the savior, but those who have followed him even the slightest knew it would be an uphill struggle. A need for goaltending has always been the Sens weak spot and it continues to be that way.

Defensively, the Sens could have been better, as you could see by the goal differential, and signing Anton Volchenkov will be crucial and maybe even seeing if Andy Sutton would be willing to re-sign in Ottawa to help strengthen the shambles the Senators defense has become. Erik Karlsson's progress is something the Sens loved to see, especially in his short-time in North America-- which should be a great asset for the partial re-building on the Sens blue line. Plus, who knows what Filip Kuba could do if he wasn't injured for 1/3rd of the season.

All in all, it's another let-down from a team that's trying to find some way to recapture their one-time glory. While Rome wasn't built in a day, the Senators will definitely be a team to get back on track faster. While getting the fifth seed is a start, the fact of the matter is there's plenty of holes in that facade and they were exposed by the defending Cup champs in their match-up. Whether or not the team can learn from this remains to be seen, but I'm sure there's going to be some kind of shake-up in order to make sure that they can actually last longer than two weeks in the second-season rather than another early exit or not being there at all.

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