The Senators were absolutely destroyed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year. They lost their leading playoff scorer and leader Daniel Alfredsson without getting anything in return after he jumped ship in the off season to play in Detroit. They also lost arguably their second best defenseman in Sergei Gonchar and in losing these two players became the youngest team in the NHL. With all of this having happened to the Sens really have a shot to compete for the Stanley Cup this year?
The answer is yes and here is why:
Erik Karlsson was simply not himself in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year after returning from the achilles injury suffered at the hands of Matt Cooke. He did put up a decent point total in the first round, but these points did not come from Karlsson looking dangerous like normal. In fact he looked like he was a liability for good portions of the playoffs. This will not happen if he is healthy next season.
Jason Spezza didn’t even play in their first round series against the Habs, which the Sens won 4-1, but if they are ever going to make a deep run Spezza has to be at his best and leading the team in scoring. He has the ability to make those around him better and the Senators scoring did suffer all year without him and Karlsson, falling from 3.04 goals for per game in 2011-12 (4th in the league) to 2.42 goals for per game (4th last in the league). If Ottawa can get back to this scoring pace, while not giving up a lot defensively they will be a force this year.
Bobby Ryan is another big factor. He will come in to be the scoring winger that the Senators so badly need. He hasn’t been at his best in Anaheim the last couple of years, but he definitely has the ability to be a top scorer in this league.
Paul Maclean. This man just won the coach of the year and will be looking to build upon that by winning more games with his best players available this time around. I wouldn’t want anyone else at the helm of this young team. He empowers his younger players and they reward him for it.
The online sports betting at Bovada.lv has the odds for the Ottawa Senators to win the Stanley Cup at 33/1 this year. That is the 18th longest odds in the league according to them, which basically puts the Senators outside of the playoffs.
Teams ahead of the Sens according to Bovada include the Oilers, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and Flyers. Those teams tell the tale of how off this betting line is. I see the Senators as one of the top teams in the East this year and I think they could compete with the Penguins or Bruins in a series if they stay healthy. Craig Anderson is one of the best goaltenders in the league, as are Spezza and Karlsson at their respective positions. Look for the Sens to once again surprise a lot of people this year, but by now it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.