Early Thoughts on the Ottawa Senators

Paul MacLean Ottawa Citizen Blogs

Paul MacLean is thinking of asking Alfredsson to sit out some games this season. (Photo courtesy of .Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen)

After Saturday’s 4-1 season opening win over the Winnipeg Jets, and in advance of tonight’s home opener against the Florida Panthers, here are a few key bits of Senators information that stand out early on.

The first few jump out of HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman’s30 Thoughts“, which is about as must-read as you can get when it comes to online hockey content (aprt from THW, of course.)

In a piece released this morning, Friedman made the following points:

  1. Marc Methot is going to be a perfect partner for Norris Trophy defenceman Erik Karlsson.” As mentioned here last week, Methot is going to need to step up for Ottawa to be successful this year, and if game one is any indication, he is very much up to the task. As Friedman also points out, “Methot understands he’s there to do the dirty work … There were a few occasions Saturday against Winnipeg when Methot made sure he was the guy who chased the puck against a heavy forecheck, allowing Karlsson to avoid punishment.” The big question, of course, is one of durability, as Methot has battled with injury issues in the past. On top of that, one game is obviously a small sample size, and Methot must demonstrate that he’s up to the task, night in and night out, in what will be a grind of a season. But, the early reviews are positive indeed, and he was able to allow EK to do his thing offensively, as he put up 3 points vs WPG.
  2. Senators head coach Paul MacLean doesn’t want Daniel Alfredsson to play all 48 regular-season games.” The ageless one played 16:57 on Saturday, with 1 shot, 2 PIM and a +1 rating. While Ottawa will benefit from his presence in the locker room and on the ice, the fear is that he could break down at some point and therefore not be available when most needed, meaning (hopefully) the playoffs. Apparently the idea floating around behind MacLean’s mustache is that he will sit Alfie from time to time, presumably in back to back situations at least. But, as Friedman quotes Bryan Murray as saying, “I’d like to hear that conversation.
  3. The final point on the Sens pertains to the 3-headed monster that they currently have in goal, with Craig Anderson, Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner all on the active roster. Says Friedman: “Undoubtedly, he’s (Murray) getting calls about them, but it sounds like he’ll keep all three in the organization in case of injury — unless he gets a ridiculous offer.” Really, that’s the way it should be for the time being. While Anderson dazzled in his season debut (stopping 27 of 28 shots), one just has to look around the league and see the struggles of other top goalies early on, not to mention the imminent risk of injury in a shortened season. It would behoove the Senators to hold on to all three, with a view to raising the asking price if teams get desperate and also as insurance in case they run in to an emergency situation of their own.

Another interesting point to note is the fact that Scotiabank Place is sold out for tonight’s home opener. While the franchise is doing a great service to the 19+ crowd by offering free beer, there are questions already about the validity of the sell out and if Senators fans will actually come out deeper into the season, as Steve Ladurantaye of the Globe and Mail pointed out this morning on Twitter:

This will be an interesting story to track, especially if the team begins to falter at some point. With a plethora of games on the schedule in a short 99-day period of time (including some potential mid-week stinkers), will the enthusiasm of ‘hockey is back’ sustain interest to the point of near sell out crowds, or will people simply watch from home, drinking better tasting and cheaper beer while parked on the couch?

With that being said, tonight’s game should be a good one. Both Ottawa and Florida were tabbed as teams that could regress this year, but both impressed on Saturday.

Enjoy it, Sens fans; hockey is indeed back in the nation’s capital.


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