One Reporter’s Opinion: Sens @ Hawks Preview
Those of you who play Fantasy Hockey may be familiar with this feeling: when a player that you have high, high hopes of, a player that’s slipped under other’s radar, falls to you in the Draft and you rub your hands with glee; thinking about how smart you are, about how your secret weapon is going to propel you to glory and then… pfffft… not a disaster but nothing special either. Know that feeling? Do I?
Well, let’s put it this way.. I have a LOT of Ottawa Senators in my FH teams (Anderson #1 Goalie in all three!). I know that feeling very well.
Admittedly, I’m hardly alone in this. A lot of people picked the Senators to be one of the big guns in the East this year (I myself picked them to go to the SCF) and there’s no doubt that they’ll be high in the mix come April. They have a seriously high-powered offense, some of the most exciting young players in the NHL and one of the best Goalie Tandems around. They got stronger by getting rid of their ancient Franchise Player and adding Bobby Ryan and Clarke McArthur. Above all they were Healthy after being decimated by injuries last year. But some major issues have arisen ,that perhaps cast a doubt on their Championship potential.
Top of the list has to be Defense. Currently the Sens sit at 18th in GA. A lot of this is caused by the fact that their #19, Jason Spezza, is basically the Anti-Toews and thinks that Defense is something that happens to other people. +/- is a flawed stat, but its worth noting that both he and linemate Milan Michalek are -5. They’ve also got the mercurial Erik Karlsson (who,like Spezza, is back after missing most of last year) who’s no-ones idea of a Stay-At-Home-Blueliner.
They’re also having an issue with taking a lot of penalties. They’ve been shorthanded a League-Worst 55 times. Luckily for them the damage has been limited by their PK being 4th Best in the NHL (practice makes perfect!), but those hard minutes are hampering their Offense.
Related, they are facing a ton of shots, averaging at 31.5 per Game. It really doesn’t matter how good Anderson & Lehner are under those circumstances. Goals are going to come.
A big factor, for me, is the fact that some of the young guys are struggling a little out of the blocks and some of the old guys are.. well, old and some guys are not playing well. Cory Conacher, Patrick Wiercoch and Jared Cowen are all in their sophomore years (Cowen missed all last season through injury) and looking to build on their promise. So far they’ve not shown their full potential. Chris Neil is still a prime Pain in the Ass but is old as the hills, as is Chris Philips. Marc Methot has been mediocre and Milan Michalek has been worse.
Joe Corvo belongs in the same jail cell as Todd Bertuzzi.
Anyhow, the Hawks should be largely unchanged with the exception of Goalie, where Khabibulous will get the nod.
So, 18-17 Hawks, right?
See you on the other side
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