Previewing the East: Ottawa Senators
NOTE: Over the next several weeks, BlueJackets.com will take an extensive, in-depth look at the Jackets' new opponents in the Eastern Conference. Be on the lookout for photo galleries, analysis, video highlights and more!
Head coach: Paul MacLean
LAST YEAR: 25-17-6 (56 points); 7th overall in the Eastern Conference; eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals
VS. CBJ in '13-14: 11/5, 11/17, 1/28
OUTLOOK: Despite injuries to several key players during last season (namely star defenseman Erik Karlsson and No. 1 center Jason Spezza), the Senators made a strong playoff run and made a case for becoming a solid force in the Stanley Cup hunt for years to come. However, this summer saw a lot of big changes for the Senators, most notably the departure of longtime face of the franchise and team captain Daniel Alfredsson to the Detroit Red Wings, and left quite a few questions about the future of the team. The Senators picked up Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks mere hours after Alfredsson signed in Detroit, and there are several youngsters who will try to figure out their role on the team under Jack Adams winner Paul MacLean, voted the top coach in the NHL last season. While things looked dark after Alfredsson opted to leave the nation's capital, Ottawa shouldn't miss a beat - especially if Craig Anderson is his normal self between the pipes.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Spezza was one of those key players out with an injury that allowed him to play in just five regular season games and three playoff games. His team proved they could carry on without him, but with the departure of Alfredsson and a lot of new, young faces on the Senators team, expect Spezza to be a prominent leader both on and off the ice.
Anderson is another player looking to bounce back from injuries. He played just 24 regular season games in 2012-13 due to a sprained ankle, but still posted good numbers with a .941 save percentage and a 1.69 goals-against average. He returned to the Senators during the playoffs and carried the mail in goal, but the run ended with a five-game series loss to Pittsburgh in the conference semifinals. Expect Anderson to return to form and get back on track after last season's setbacks, as well as his backup goaltender, Robin Lehner, a top young goalie on the rise.