Monday, September 15, 2008

ESPN poses questions, Sens Army Blog answers them

ESPN released a list of training-camp questions for all 15 Eastern Conference teams today, and--although I'll bet you can guess them--they offered some for the Ottawa Senators. I'm going to do my best to answer them, and maybe Scott Burnside will change his tune about the Sens being "a bubble playoff team".
  1. "How do [Jason] Spezza and [Dany] Heatley rebound from their embarrassing turn in the playoffs?"

    In many ways, they already have. Looking at the summer's World Hockey Championships, Heatley has certainly rebounded. And although Spezza didn't get very many points, he's reflected on the experience as a learning one where he developed a more rounded game. They have to prove that they can do so in NHL action, but players of that calibre don't simply forget how to compete.

  2. "Can [Craig] Hartsburg restore order to a dressing room that seemed adrift through most of the season?"

    Although Hartsburg does have to control the dressing room, GM Bryan Murray has given him some help by getting rid of some of the players who were seen as distractions or pollution in the dressing room. Included in this category is certainly Ray Emery, but Wade Redden and Brian McGrattan have both also been mentioned as having the wrong attitude. And Andrej Meszaros, didn't seem like he really wanted to play for the Senators, so he was exchanged for three assets, including two NHL-calibre defencemen.

  3. "Where will the secondary scoring come from?"

    Antoine Vermette had a career-high in points last season. Mike Fisher didn't, but he'll be expected to rebound big time. Jesse Winchester and Nick Foligno both have some high expectations, but both seem mature enough to handle them well. And splitting up the big line will (or should) help spread the offensive production.

  4. "Is Martin Gerber a No. 1 NHL netminder? If not, is Alex Auld a viable option as a backup?"

    This is really two questions, I guess. I've already given my take on whether or not Gerber is good enough (I think he is), so I won't bore you with more. I do believe that Auld, however, will do well in the 20-30 games he's expected to play, especially considering how well he did for the Boston Bruins last season. If not, Brian Elliott will have a chance to prove his mettle.

  5. "Can Hartsburg bring order to a completely remade blue line, once the strength of the Senators' organization?"

    Ah yes, the blue line. Goodbye Redden, Meszaros, Luke Richardson (probably) and Mike Commodore, hello Filip Kuba, Brian Lee, Alexandre Picard, and Jason Smith. Personally, I think this year's d-corps could be better than it was last year. If the salaries are any indication--there is no far-and-away high-priced 'top defenceman'--this should be some defence by committee. Which is what the case was when the Sens' strength was defence. Hartsburg is also preaching defensive responsibility from his forwards, so that should help out the defence significantly.
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