#2: Ottawa Senators
May 24, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) greets Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) in the traditional post series hand shake line after the third period of game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 6-2 to close out the series. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The ‘Pesky Sens’ were a surprise story in 2013, making the playoffs after losing their leading scorer, and reigning Norris Trophy winning defenseman to injury. They got past the second-seed Montreal Canadiens in the first round, and earned themselves a date with the Pittsburgh Penguins, losing in five games. Ottawa lost the face of their franchise, captain Daniel Alfredsson, to free agency. The defense will once again rely on superstar Erik Karlsson, and his health will dictate the play of the entire team defensively, with mediocre depth on the blue-line. With Craig Anderson, one of the leagues’ best in goal, the Senators’ offense will be the key to success. Jason Spezza is undergoing the same process as the Wild’s Heatley, after Ottawa’s top forward was injured less than a month into the regular season. He reappeared for the Senators in their final three games of the season, logging near 20:00 of TOI despite not playing at 100%. Sophomore Cory Conacher, young gun Kyle Turris, and established sniper Milan Michalek will be among those that need to deliver once again, with incoming star Bobby Ryan expected to become the face of the team’s offense. One thing the Senators don’t have to worry about in 2013-14 is the man behind the bench, as Paul McLean won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best head coach in 2013. The Senators may make some moves before the season starts, but as it stands, they are going to have to fight hard to make their thirteenth playoff appearance in the last 15 seasons.