Sens gearing up
So which Ottawa Senators team shows up once the playoffs start? Will
it be the team that went 14-2 right before the Olympic break? Will it
be the one that stumbled right after the break going 1-7-1? Or the
recent one that reeled off six straight wins?
To say this team is streaky
is an understatement. Consistency at this time of the year would be
Sens fans this year have had a roller coaster ride but have
known for a week for so that their playoff destiny would be the fifth
spot in the Eastern Conference. What they don’t know is which team they will
face. Will it be Pittsburgh, the team they have faced in the first round
the last two first rounds? Or New Jersey who Ottawa has crossed paths
with in the past as well? Neither team is lighting the world on fire so
whatever advantage the higher seeded team might have is minimal.
team it is one thing is for sure. Brian Elliot will be the first string
keeper and Ottawa will need him to outplay a gold medal goalie, be it
Martin Brodeur or Marc-Andre Fleury. Elliot’s play has mirrored the
success of the Sens this year; when he is on his game the team plays
well. When he isn’t, look out. Problem is, who would Ottawa put in if
Elliot can’t go? Pascal Leclaire or Mike Brodeur?
getting healthy and they have good depth. One player they will not be
able to count on going forward is Filip Kuba. The veteran defenseman
underwent surgery earlier this week to repair a herniated disk and will
not be ready to play for about a month. He missed all but two games in
March and is one of the Sens top four defenseman. The emergence of Erik
Karlsson has eased the loss of Kuba somewhat. Gunner has 13 points in
the last month or so since Kuba’s injury.
Signings and more
Thanks to John Muckler, Ottawa was left with a
depleted cupboard when it came to prospects. One of Bryan Murray’s
priorities was to restock the farm system, something that doesn’t happen
Slowly Ottawa has been able to find some players. Erik
Karlsson, drafted in 2008 is a regular in the lineup and Zach Smith has
seen time this year with Ottawa. Over the last week or two, a few
others have been brought into the fold.
Patrick Wiercioch – A second round pick in 2008, this lanky dman just finished up his second
year in the collegiate ranks. Weighing in around 200 pounds and standing 6’4″
Wiercioch has a bight future with the organization. He wanted to turn
pro last summer but was advised one more year at Denver would serve him
well. Wiercioch will compete for a spot in Ottawa next year but is slated for the
buses in the AHL.
Bobby Butler – Signed as a free agent after his
senior year at New Hampshire, where he led the NCAA in goal scoring. He has
skill, but will be eased into a scoring role although he is 22 and might
not need much time adjusting to the pro game. He has played two games
with Ottawa and has shown he can play at the NHL level. But Ottawa will
have 12 or 13 forwards in camp next season under contract, so the AHL
is where he will start most likely. Butler is one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the top player in college hockey.
Eric Gryba – The soon to be 22-year-old is another player coming out of
the NCAA having played out his eligibility at Boston University. Gryba plays a physical brand of hockey. In 153 games, he
picked up over 350 minutes in penalties. The Sens could use another mean defenseman, but there is very good depth on the back end.
Robin Lehner – A goalie taken in the 2009 draft, Lehner impressed with his
size and his dedication to improving at the Senators developmental camp
last July. After a year in the OHL many consider him the goalie of the
future for Ottawa, although Elliot might disagree with that
statement. Lehner is expected to return to junior next September.
David Dziurzynski- A 20-year-old signed out of Tier 2, Dzjurzynski has the
potential to be a power forward down the road. We will know more about
him when the Senators have all their prospects skate this summer.
And Ottawa will be signing a few more kids this summer. Matt Hoffman
was the player of the year in the QMJHL, and Corey Cowick has impressed the
Sens with his play as an overager with the Ottawa 67’s. And Murray is
still trying to sign Roman Wick (drafted in 2004) who impressed NHL
scouts playing for the Swiss team at the Vancouver Olympics.
plays in 1000th game
When Ottawa played Florida on Tuesday,
Daniel Alfredsson suited up for his 1000th game for the Sens. The 1995 Calder trophy winner is the longest serving captain in
For the last year or two we have known he would make it to
the 1000 game marker, but if you go back to the late 1990’s many
questioned how long the Swede could last in the league. During a four
year stretch, the Sens captain averaged less than 60 games a year and many
questioned how durable he was, and how much heart he had. Guess he has
laid those questions to rest.