Why The Senators WILL Make The Post Season.


Look, even as a Sens fan, I can admit there’s a reason so many pundits are not picking the Sens to make the post season, but here’s my take on why I honestly believe they will.

Coaching.

Let’s be clear on this, coaching, especially with this roster, will be EVERYTHING. That’s not to say if the season is a disaster it’s all Cloustons fault, but, if it is a success, he will have played a major role.

Why you may ask?

Chemistry and skill.

The fact remains that, in many regards, the Sens are not an “elite” team. They do not have a roster of proven players, nor a roster with a star in every position (F,D,G). few teams do, but most elite teams have 2 or more. As it stands, Ottawa may, arguably, have one, Spezza.

After that it’s a sliding scale from above average (Alfie, Kovy, Kuba) to mediocre (Cheechoo, Kelly, Fisher, Foligno, Phillips, Volchenkov) to role players (Neil, Ruutu, Carkner, Picard, Winchester) to un-provens (Shannon, Foligno, Karlsson, Regin, Leclair, Michalek, Lee).

So its going to take everyone working together, to be at their best, within a winning system. It’s the coaches job to ask the players to do the right things in order to win. It’s the players role to do them.

Will clouston select a winning system? Honestly, I say yes, and I base this on 3 factors;

1. He’s a coach that has proven to be a good tactician through-out his (limited) career.
2. He started off on the right foot upon his arrival in Ott last season, and appeared to bring a winning formula to a previously losing team.
3. He knows his players, both new and old, with the exception of only a few new faces.

Will the players buy into the system, and put forth the effort to make it work?

Honestly, I say yes again.

Forwards.

No doubt some players are feeling a bit awkward in their new roles.

Does Kelly really see himself as a 4th liner? No, he doesn’t, but he’s also one of the last guys one would expect to revolt or complain about his role, instead, I suspect we will see Kelly fighting hard to prove he deserves more ice time.

Does Neil think he’s nothing more than an agitator, and occasional pugilist? Hells no, and like Kelly, he will want his ice time back, and will go about realizing this not through verbal complaint, but on ice effort. In a word, these two will be “leaders” to the young guys on this squad, and be forcing them to put up or shut up every shift, practice and off ice work-out session.

That’s positive competition.

And what about the top line? No doubt Spezza has something to prove, not just to the Canadian Olympic team, but also to his detractors who have lumped him in with the Heatleys of the world as one trick ponies. Spezza wants to be the complete package, and as time goes on, he’s making strides towards this ideal, and losing Heatley, in favour of a more physical, and multi-dimentional Michalek, will only further his efforts.

Secondary scoring, the other oft missing piece of the Senator puzzle, is also an area of potential improvement. How much of the drought from the 2-3 lines was a result of skill vs. system? If the end of last season was any indication, a lot. When Clouston came on board, and opened up the D to pinching and holding the offensive blueline, suddenly the less skilled players on the 2nd and 3rd line were more able to convert offensive opportunities into goals. Let’s face it, these guys need more chances to score than elite players, and if the puck leaves the offensive zone with ease, they’re just not going to be productive.

Lastly, in regards to the forwards, the 4th line. Tell me Ruutu, Kelly, Neil isn’t among the best 4th lines in the NHL? If this trio decides to bring their A games, vs other 4th lines, they’re gonna make some waves, big time.

Defense.

This will be the coaches biggest challenge. There is not an elite player in the group, and, with the exception of Cowen, nothing on the horizon either. This isn’t to say they’re bad, but they will, to a man, have to be at their best, and work within a well defined system, to be synergistic in their impact. Watching Phillips and Volchy pinch in pre-season has me believing Clouston is on the right track.

Goaltending.

Simply put, Leclair is going to be asked to steal more games than is fair, but, what more could an aspiring #1 ask for? Will he do it? I honestly don’t know, and anybody who says they do is totally guessing. I do believe, unlike any goaltender in Sens history, with the possible exception of Hasek, he is the most able to, but only time will tell.

So there you have it, that’s why the Sens will make the post season, because of coaching, sound system management, and a solid effort through-out the line-up.

This team remains far from being a lock to make the post season, but I honestly believe they will turn some heads, and make us all very proud Sens fans come April.

GN

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Why The Senators WILL Make The Post Season.”

  1. You eluded to it, but missed mentioning the most important factors in determining the future success of the Senators. Heart and character. With Heatley gone and replaced with two individuals who have tons of heart the Sens are a way better team than last year.

    How many times have we seen teams with talent oozing at their seams fall flat at playoff time and what do we remember of the champions of the past…heart and character. I believe the Sens have most of the ingredients to be a very good team this year.

    I believe they will be in the playoff hunt this year. Heart, talent and luck will get us there and then we’ll see about the character in the playoffs.

    Carver55

  2. I agree C55, and I guess, in my round about way, that’s what I meant in talking about how Spez, Neil and Kelly are going to lead the way this season, both in effort, and in improved play.
    But thanks for making it all the more clear.
    GN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: