News / Ottawa

What to expect as the Ottawa Senators start a new season

Sens look to repeat and go beyond last year's success.

Senators forward Tyler Randell, 64, celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with forward Ben Sexton, 26, and defenceman Thomas Chabot, 72, in Ottawa on Sept. 18. Last season the Senators surprised much of the NHL with a deep playoff run to the Eastern Conference final that ended with a double overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The sting of the loss lingered and served as motivation this summer, but the Senators know they'll likely need to be even better this season to find themselves in the playoff picture again.

Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press

Senators forward Tyler Randell, 64, celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with forward Ben Sexton, 26, and defenceman Thomas Chabot, 72, in Ottawa on Sept. 18. Last season the Senators surprised much of the NHL with a deep playoff run to the Eastern Conference final that ended with a double overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The sting of the loss lingered and served as motivation this summer, but the Senators know they'll likely need to be even better this season to find themselves in the playoff picture again.

After a trip to the Stanley Cup finals came tantalizingly close Sens fans are hoping this year takes them even further, as the puck drops on a new chapter Thursday night.

The team opens the season tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals, hoping to do even better than last year and finally hold the Stanley Cup high.

Hockey writer Sean McIndoe, known for among other things his blog Down Goes Brown, said it’s possible the Sens could have another great season, but it won’t be easy.

“The consensus out there seems to be they’re going to take a small step back and I think that’s reasonable,” he said. “The most likely outcome is that they’re about the same or maybe a little bit worse.”

He said in today’s NHL unfortunately a slight slip could be a major one for the team.  

“You take away two wins and they’re out of the playoffs,” he said.

During the offseason, the Sens removed 1,500 seats from the Canadian Tire Centre “right-sizing” the building for the season ahead.

McIndoe said he wouldn’t read too much into that decision. He said the city has always been a smaller market in the NHL and the arena still has plenty of seats.

“Ottawa is probably not a market that needs an 18,500 seat arena.”

Alex Hay, a manager at the Senate Sports Bar in the Byward market, said the team was a major draw for his customers last season.

“It was very busy, especially that last series against Pittsburgh,” he said.

He said the fans are eager to get back into hockey mode.

“We run a shuttle to the Canadian Tire Centre and we already have lots of reservations for this shuttle and the next one.”

The team’s captain, Erik Karlsson, could be out for the first few games of the season as he recovers from an ankle injury.

McIndoe said getting him back in the line-up will be key for the Sens. He’s also important for fans.

“If Karlsson is not the most exciting player in the NHL, he’s certainly on the short list.”

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