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Sport Inside the 2017-18 Senators: No shortage of skeptics in Ottawa's Stanley Cup pursuit

16:52  13 september  2017
16:52  13 september  2017 Source:

Erik Karlsson not skating yet, may miss Senators opener

  Erik Karlsson not skating yet, may miss Senators opener The Ottawa Senators may start the season without their captain and best player, Erik Karlsson, who is still recovering from offseason foot surgery.Hasn't skated yet so he's got a lot ahead of him once he's eventually cleared. But in good spirits.

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It's easy to root for the Senators. An oft-overlooked franchise stuck in the shadows of big-market behemoths on either side. Its stars suffering unthinkable personal hardships, only to persevere on and off the ice. Then came the gut punch that was the death of beloved former general manager Bryan Murray this summer, two months after falling one goal shy of completing a remarkable against-the-odds run to the Stanley Cup Final.

It's also difficult to ignore the stats.

SN EXCLUSIVE: Senators GM Pierre Dorion excited for new season of challenges

Used to being counted out, it looks like that's going to be the case for Ottawa again this year. The Senators are projected by many to finish well off their 98 points from a season ago. Their Corsi percentage (48.2 percent) was worst among playoff teams and slightly better than the Canucks, who finished with the second-worst point total in the league. All season long, the statisticians predicted the Sens wouldn't be able to sustain success, but they did — straight through Game 7 overtime of the Eastern Conference finals.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion excited for new season of challenges

  Senators GM Pierre Dorion excited for new season of challenges The general manager of the Senators discusses what's next after his team came within one double-overtime goal of reaching the Stanley Cup Final last spring.“For the most part, everywhere I’ve been this summer, people are excited by the team. They’re shaking my hand. I don’t think I had one person who told me to get lost,” said Dorion with tongue planted firmly in cheek at a pre-training camp get together with local media.

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That's where good fortune figured in.

It's feasible on paper that if everything doesn't go right, like it did last year, Ottawa could be the first since the 2011 Lightning to go from the conference finals to missing the playoffs entirely in a year's span. That team was also coached by Guy Boucher.

MORE: Senators out to prove 2017 wasn't 'lucky' season

You know the negatives: Craig Anderson, 36, isn't getting younger. The offense lacks a game-breaking scorer. Perennial MVP candidate Erik Karlsson is still recovering from offseason foot surgery, the result of overexertion during his superhuman playoff run. Apart from Karlsson, who lost his everyday playing partner in Marc Metjot, the defense might need to ask too much of 20-year-old Thomas Chabot to save face. They're going to need to recapture some that 2016-17 magic.

Inside the 2017-18 Canadiens: Jonathan Drouin takes center stage in Montreal

  Inside the 2017-18 Canadiens: Jonathan Drouin takes center stage in Montreal Jonathan Drouin is the Canadiens' No. 1 center by default, an experiment that ultimately will make or break their Stanley Cup aspirations.In Tampa, Drouin was a reluctant lightning rod to criticism. It was part standard for any third-overall draft pick who's slow to develop in line with today's warp-speed climate, part self-imposed for trying and failing to force a trade. Either way, Drouin regrouped, made the most of his opportunity in 2016-17, and finds himself in a career-defining situation, for better or worse, following the summer blockbuster trade to Montreal.

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Drouin est le centre de Bergevin! 18 h. the media during last spring’ s playoffs for the boring, defensive style the Senators played all the way to within a goal of the Stanley Cup final. by: Don Brennan — Ottawa Citizen: Senators Extra 8h. rown, the now 6-6 and a half-inch centre selected

The doubters are many. But as the Senators have shown, seeing is believing.

Ottawa Senators schedule 2017-18

The Senators open the 2017-18 season at home Oct. 6 against the reigning Presidents' Trophy champion Capitals. They'll also be part of the NHL's 100th birthday festivities with an outdoor game against the Canadiens Dec. 16 at TD Place in Ottawa, dubbed the Scotiabank NHL 100 Classic. A rematch of the Eastern Conference finals arrives Nov. 16, again at home. But they play one game at home during a grueling stretch from Nov. 19-Dec. 12.

Fans in the U.S. won't see the Sens in action this year; they don't appear on NBC's national broadcast once all season.

MORE: Ranking teams' chances of bringing 2018 Stanley Cup back to Canada

Craig Anderson and Erik Karlsson© (Getty Images) Craig Anderson and Erik Karlsson

Senators' key offseason additions

Johnny Oduya (free agent), Nate Thompson (free agent)

Senators' key offseason departures

Senators' Clarke MacArthur fails medical test

  Senators' Clarke MacArthur fails medical test The veteran forward missed nearly all of last season and has a history of at least four known concussions.Senators general manager Pierre Dorion on Thursday annnounced the veteran forward was not cleared to play after he failed his team medical test.

(Link Type: Letter) By Senator Donnal Campbell Publication Date: June 8, 2017 .

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Marc Methot (expansion)

Senators' projected opening night lineup


Mike Hoffman - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Ryan Dzingel - Derick Brassard - Mark Stone

Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Alexandre Burrows

Clarke MacArthur - Nate Thompson - Tom Pyatt


Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci

Fredrik Claesson - Chris Wideman

Johnny Oduya - Thomas Chabot

*Erik Karlsson could be out until November recovering from offseason surgery


Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Senators' best-case scenario is …

Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone continue to fly under the radar as two of the NHL's best-kept secrets, each topping 60 points. Kyle Turris isn't winning the Selke any time soon but delivers career high offensive production in a contract year. Roster intact, playoff hero Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ryan Dzingel provide needed scoring depth. It doesn't take long for top prospect Colin White to make an NHL impact, emerging as a dark horse for the Calder Trophy along with teammate Chabot. Speaking of, the young defenseman is as good as advertised, eating critical minutes on the blue line to relieve Karlsson, who recovers fully from surgery, of some of his burden. Anderson doesn't look a day over 36. The Senators continue to defy statistical logic, win the Atlantic Division and make another run at unfinished business.

Alex Burrows more settled this year with Senators .
Veteran winger Alex Burrows is still chasing his first Stanley Cup, and believes the Senators can make a run this season. “We have a good group of guys who focus on getting better," said Burrows at Sens training camp this week. "We can’t take anything for granted. We have to do it all over again, pay attention to details.

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