After watching last nights loss to the Pens it definitely got me assessing this year and thinking of next year. I haven't seen anything that makes me think this team will rise from the ashes and come back from 3-1 against the Pens.
Going into this season the Senators had obvious flaws at defense and in goal, while more then likely packing less offensive punch without Heatley. Many people didn't even think this team would make the playoffs, yet they showed some backbone, grit and determination on their way to securing a playoff spot.
Injuries obviously put Ottawa in a big hole heading into the playoffs, with 3 gaping holes in their lineup with Kovalev, Michalek and Kuba out for the season. I think very few teams could overcome those hurdles, let alone against a healthy Penguins lineup. From adversity comes opportunity, and many young faces got their first taste of playoff hockey for the Sens this year. I saw someone comment recently that the Pens learned how to play playoff hockey when they got soundly beaten by the Sens in 2007, and I believe this to be true. I can only hope the Sens learn those same lessons from the Pens this go around. As much as the reffing has been awful, Pittsburgh has simply been the better team at seizing opportunities when presented with them.
So we head into next year a little more experienced and hopefully hungrier then what we've seen in these playoffs.
Things that I hope happen in 2010-11
- Kuba is traded to make cap room to re-sign Sutton and Volchenkov. Odds are he needs to be moved for picks or scoring depth
- Lee gets traded somewhere for something. As much as we hoped he'd turn into a decent d-man, I think even if he does he's not going to be the type of guy Ottawa needs
- Sign some goaltending depth. I see Burke nosing around at a Finnish goaltender for depth in the Leaf system, we should be doing the same. Dig harder for goalies and see if we can find a diamond in the rough. Who knows, maybe Elliott matures and becomes the guy, but the team needs to develop goaltending instead of trying to manage with guys other teams were willing to let go. We should aspire to be like the Sharks who had Nabokov, Kipprusof and Toskala all on their depth chart at the same time. Better too much then too little
- Cowan can make the team and contribute. A year post-ACL surgery I expect Cowan to get back to form. As I've mentioned on this site before, I've been through it and it really does take a year to feel "right" again
- Cut bait on Winchester, Shannon, Cheechoo and Donovan. I would rather see our 4th line be young guys like Z. Smith, Keller or St Pierre then this lot
- Regin can show he's a long term fit on the first line
- Karlsson to take that next stop to being an elite defenseman. We've seen a guy like Doughty rise, while a guy like Schenn fall, so we definitely need to tread carefully when it comes to developing him into what could viably be our best offensive defenseman since Wade Redden
- I'd like to see a full season with Cullen in the lineup, but I know we're going to be tight to the cap
- A guy like Butler or Hoffman can show they're ready to score in NHL next year
- Maybe Leclaire could go "missing" this offseason