Thursday, September 29, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Ottawa Senators

It's been a little more than 4 years since the Sens went to the Stanley Cup Finals, and since then there have been some problems. Free agent acquisitions that were made didn't pan out they way they were hoped, and the veteran core needed to be changed. So, Bryan Murray set out to change that. Will this much younger team with some veteran pieces be able to even contend for a postseason birth?

Strengths: Even though the overall team has more weaknesses than strengths, there are still good players on this roster. Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson are still the big guns offensively for this team, and it will really help to have Alfredsson back after he missed much of last season. Behind them, there isn't much, and Milan Michalek, Nick Foligno, and former Blue Jacket bust Nikita Filatov will have to step up in order to get this team to perform well. They have potential, especially Filatov, and there needs to be a way to get the talent out of them to become the main secondary scorers on this team. Chris Phillips, Erik Karlsson, and Sergei Gonchar lead the way on defense, and while that is not an amazing group, it sure is very solid. In net, Craig Anderson is a hot and cold goalie, and when he is on, he is really on.

Weaknesses: There are plenty of them, so going over all of them will be tough. But there are some pressing ones. First, how will new coach Paul (don't call him John) MacLean will try to institute a fast paced offensive style that may not totally suit what the Sens roster has on it right now, especially with very little scoring depth. There is little depth overall on this roster, and possibly the biggest question is whether Craig Anderson will perform the way he did in Florida and Colorado some of the time, when he was regarded as one of the more promising goalies in hockey?

Any Help Coming? D David Rundblad is an offensive defenseman, who has great skills and size all around, but there are questions about his defensive game, and that he plays a bit too much of a complicated games at times. D Jared Cowen is a big player, and has amazing size and strength, but there are questions about how he will recover from a pretty nasty injury. C Mika Zibanejad has some offensive talent and promise, but he may be a while away from making the trek over from Sweden to North America.

Outlook: They have a ton of problems, and they will have a lot of work to do to make the postseason. They need to change their entire philosophy with this new coach, and with very little scoring depth, this team will have trouble scoring, and possibly defending their own net. They may have to go down a little further, before they go up again.

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