At the end of last season, all signs pointed to a long and tough rebuild for the Ottawa Senators. The team finished in 13th place and on the outside looking in come playoff time. Little did anyone know, the Sens were going to come back this season with something to prove.
Let’s all be seriously, if you asked any fan, even a Sens fan if Ottawa was going to be in the playoffs, they would have laughed in your face but that’s exactly what is happening. Not only are the Sens in a playoff spot, they are battling the Boston Bruins for the division lead and over the weekend, they held that second place spot, if only for a couple hours.
The Sens success can be attributed to multiple individuals. You can start first with head coach Paul Maclean. After working with Mike Babcock in Detroit as an assistant coach you knew he would come into Ottawa and get things sorted out. The rookies on this team were the “make or break” pieces. They were going to be big factors but no one knew if that was going to be a positive thing or a negative thing. Six players on this years roster won the Calder Cup last season with the Binghamton Senators which helped in the building of the rookies who now find themselves as regulars on the team.
You can’t talk about the success of the Sens without mentioning, in some way, the play of Craig Anderson. He, in my opinion, has been one of the biggest reasons this team is where it is in the standings. After having a brutal season with the Avs, he was brought in by Bryan Murray to hopefully help build this team into a winner and that’s just what he has done. He has won games that maybe they shouldn’t have won, he’s made timely saves to preserve wins, he has played as advertised and sometimes better then advertised.
In the end, the Sens still have some work to do. They are playing well but are they really built to be a legit Cup Contender in the East? It’s possible but they are going to need Anderson to get red hot, similar to what Halak did for Montreal a few years back, in order to do any serious damage when the meaningful games come along.
For Leafs fans, maybe Brian Burke should take a page out ofMurray’s book. He seems to know how to do the “quick rebuild” that Burke has been preaching about in Toronto for the last 4 seasons.
Let me know what you think and give me a follow on twitter @topcheddar67.