We save the biggest question for last in our Pre-Season Prediction Panel. It's been discussed significantly over the last couple weeks, with everyone making their calls (and taking their shots) about expectations for the Ottawa Senators during this upcoming season.
Without further ado, the question on everyone's mind: Where will the Ottawa Senators finish in the standings?
25th-overall, 13th East. I doubt this one will prove as embarrassing as my one from last year (first place in the East, booyah).
The Senators will be bad, but I don't think they'll be quite as bad as people are predicting. I think they should finish around 14 in the Eastern Conference, and 26 overall... just inside of the draft lottery. Teams I think could finish behind Ottawa: Colorado, Phoenix, Dallas, Long Island.
I see them as 11th in the Eastern Conference, and around 24th or 23rd overall. The team just isn't as bad as they looked last year and stable goaltending covers up a lot of mistakes. I guess I'm the optimist!
I am going to go ahead and be the crazy homer and predict eighth place. There is no way I see us finishing last in the conference, but I see this team finishing any where between seventh and twelfth. This team is hardly the most talented in the East, but it's worth pointing out that making the playoffs only means being an average team. Eight place is being above seven teams and below seven teams. Here are the following seven teams I can see us being better than: Islanders, Panthers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Devils, Hurricanes and Jets.
I expect the goaltending and offence to both be better this year simply because of how unusually bad it was last year. The three most important players for the Senators will be Craig Anderson, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson and I predict all of them to have great seasons. This could likely be my heart rather than my head, so I reserve the right to change my mind if we start 3-14-1. Having said that...PLAYOFFS BABY!
I'm going to go a slightly different route. Comparing this team to Carolina last year, they had finished a poor year the year before, and they only had one TRUE weapon up front (Staal) to go along with a great goalie (they also hosted the all-star game!). They finished 9th in the Conference, and 19th overall. I don't think Zibanejad is Skinner, and Anderson isn't Ward, but I'm still going to say 10th in the East, 22 overall!
I'm going to contradict my previous email stating Anderson will win half his starts and say he won't start half the games and the team will finish 29th in the league.
I look forward to showing Adnan and Dave their predictions at the end of the season and laughing at them. Even if you think the Senators have gotten better (and outside of goaltending, they haven't), most of the Eastern Conference, particularly the Northeast Division, made bigger short-term improvements than the Senators did. I think the Senators finish 14th in the East, and 27th in the league. I hope I'm wrong.
Ottawa is going to finish twelfth. We just aren't as bad of a hockey team as this last season might suggest. At the same time, should one compare our roster to other teams in the East, there needs to be a few collapses from them and a lot of surging from us, to even come close.
We're all pretty much more optimistic than most of the mainstream pundits, and we (for the most part) aren't even all that optimistic. But what do you think: Where will the Ottawa Senators finish this year?