Well, it's been a long, dramatic summer, but the real deal 2009-10 season finally gets underway this week. Yeah, hooray! The Sens hit the ice Saturday against the Rags with a slightly different look than a year ago. We have yet another voice behind the bench and pair of pads between the pipes, we have a new top line (though we don't know who will make it up just yet, or our 2nd, 3rd or 4th lines for that matter), and we have a new Swede to fall in love with. This year feels particularly exciting, doesn't it? I know I'm excited.
In addition to all this excitement, there is certainly a set - heck, more like a laundry list - of expectations. While I'd like to expect Spez to break 100 pts, Karlsson to win Rookie of the year and Leclaire to post a GAA under 2.00 - I can't expect to be taller at the end of the season, i.e. I can't set my expectations too high. And so, here are some of my more realistic expectations for the season ahead.
Now, where to start? Let's begin with the forwards. And event better, let's kick it off at the top...
Our beloved captain. This is his most important year wearing the "C". As the longest serving active captain of his team, he faces the challenge to regrouping his troops from a disappointing year, a saga-filled summer and low expectations from the league's media. I expect Alfredsson will meet this challenge and get the best out of his team, while scoring 80 points and earning even more of our respect.
While I don't expect Jason to make the Canadian Olympic team, I expect him to have a strong seaon. After a 4 year exclusive relationship on the ice, he'll have the chance to play the field and expect a few games for him to find a pleasant suitor. But never fear, he'll succeed. While this is his offence, we're no longer counting on him (and his partner) to score. Less pressure and more responsibility - expect the Spez Dispenser to put up 90 points this season and finish in the top 10 in scoring.
Oooh, tough one. Expect Kovalev to be Kovalev. He'll dazzle us from time to time, and anger us in between. At the end of the year, we'll be glad to have him. He'll add 65 points (half of which will come on the pp) and will be featured at least once on TSN's Top 10 plays of the year.
Ahhh, le grand poisson. Every year, I start the season expecting this to be Fisher's year offensively, the year he breaks out as a legit second line scoring threat. But despite the preseason efforts of Peter Regin, Fisher's not going to be a scoring machine. Count on Fish for passionate, hard work and valuable minutes on the PK. Expect an average season offensively at 45 points. Finally, expect Carrie Underwood to dodge cameras at SBP!
I expect this guy to be a fan favourite for sure. I love how he plays and the attitude he brings to the dressing room. While all season, I'll be confused on how to actually pronounce his name, I won't be confused by the effort he'll bring. Michalek won't score 50, but will break 30 goals in his best season offensively.
Unfortunately, I'm not expecting big things from Cheechoo. He'll have a decent season with 15-18 goals and work hard to make the team better, but he's doomed for the 3rd line. I hope he proves me wrong.
Look out for Neil to drop the gloves more than he did last year. He needs to send a message, especially at the start of the year, that we're not a soft team. Done are the days when Neil scores close to 20. He'll be down in points this year, but look for his PIMs to be at an all-time career high.
Expect him to piss everyone off, everyone in an opposing uniform, that is. He'll be a valuable 4th liner as he'll draw a lot of penalties, and our PP should be in the top 10.
Ugh. I don't know what to expect here! If we get over his contract, we can all accept Kelly as a great 4th line centre. Here's a guy I definitely wish to prove me wrong in the stats category, but I don't think he will and is destined for 20 points before being moved at the deadline.
Looks like he's gonna crack the line up and I think he'll stay up all season. I think this guy is going to make some waves around the league and be considered a Calder candidate. Maybe it's the homer in the talking, but this kid will have a good year. Look for Regin to post better numbers than Cheechoo, and sell more jerseys.
I have big expectations for Nick this year. I think this is his breakout season offensively but he'll play responsibly all over the ice. He's one of our keys to success, in my opinion. Expect Foly to crack the 50 point mark.
Lil' Ryan Shannon will manage to play a solid third line role this year and create some scoring depth. That said, I don't think he's as talented as some of you make him out to be. This guys speedy and great for his size, but don't expect more than 35 points. And please don't expect him to QB the PP.
After a decent season last year, Winnie's going to have a tough time breaking back in this year after starting the season injured. I expect him to get the call to fill injury holes, but don't see him as a regular. Sorry Winnie.
Ol' Chum Donovan is looking everyday like our 13th forward. I love having this guy on our team but I don't think he can break the top 12 game in, game out. He'll spend a lot of time in the press box. The one thing you can expect from Donovan is he'll always have a smile on his face.
So there you have it, friends, some expectations of our forward group from yours truly. But I'm just one dude with a laptop. The fun part starts when we hear what you think! Do you think this is Spezza's year? Do you disagree that Cheech will flop? Will you stand up for Shannon and Winchester and tell me off? Do you think Smith or Schubie deserves another chance?
I'm looking forward to hearing your POVs. I'm also looking foward to March when I read this post again and realize I'm brilliant, or just plain handsome, er, I mean, dumb.
Aaaaaaaaaand you're up. Go!