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OPENER

TOP FIVE Oct.8,1992 SENAtORS 5 cANADIENS 3

ALEXEI YASHIN

MIKE FISHER

The original home opener still goes down as one of the all-time great moments in franchise history, and put an exclamation point on a landmark event in Ottawa's rich sporting tradition. No longer a big-league pipe dream, we finally had an NHL team. And who better to provide the opposition in the dank and musty Civic Centre — the team's original downtown venue, back when the Palladium was still a cornfield — than the cherished Montreal Canadiens, whose loyalties were (and are) still fierce in the capital. With Patrick Roy staring down the Senators — behind a Canadiens team that would go on to win the Stanley Cup — the patchwork expansion team would go on to shock the powerhouse squad with a 5-3 victory. Neil Brady became the answer to everyone's favourite local trivia question 26 seconds into the second period when he scored the

first goal for an Ottawa NHL team since the old Senators folded in 1934. Sylvain Turgeon was credited with the game-winning goal, and Doug Smail, with his second goal of the night, sealed the deal with an empty-net goal to make it an opening night for the ages. Of course, the warm and fuzzy feelings wouldn't last long, as it would be late November before the Senators recorded another win, finishing their inaugural season a dismal 10-70-4.

Oct.4,1997 SENAtORS 3 HURRIcANES 2

The Senators were getting serious. No longer the league's doormat, the team was now firmly guided by the steadying hand of coach Jacques Martin, and the team had captured the hearts of the city and demanded the attention of the league when a goal from Steve Duchesne on the final day of the previous regular season had put the Sens into the playoffs for the first time. And they didn't just compete. They nearly stole the series from the Buffalo Sabres and backup goalie Steve Shields, coming on in relief of Dominik Hasek, who had come down with a mysterious case of food poisoning during his stay at an Ottawa hotel. The 1997-98 season began with such promise in what long-serving fans often recall

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as The Golden Age for the scrappy Sens. Alexei Yashin, Shawn McEachern and Andreas Dackell formed the first line, while a 24-year-old Daniel Alfredsson had emerged as a force with a supporting cast that included Magnus Arvedson, Radek Bonk and wily veterans Igor Kravchuk, Jason York, Shaun Van Allen, Bruce Gardiner, and Randy Cunneyworth in his final season as captain. There was even a seven-game audition for a relatively unknown and unheralded 18-year-old Slovakian named Marian Hossa, while Alexandre Daigle completed his spectacular tumble from the pedestal, landing in Philadelphia by mid-season. Daigle scored against the Hurricanes in the home opener — one of seven he would score in another lackadaisical season for the former first-overall pick — with the other goals provided by Janne Laukkanen and Sergei Zholtok.

Oct.8,2005 SENAtORS 5 SABRES 0

Fans were just happy to have NHL hockey back after a 16-month absence due to a protracted lockout that ushered in the NHL's “new reality.” The time off brought about more changes for the Senators than simply adjusting to a salary cap and a shootout, though, as

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Bryan Murray was wooed back from Anaheim's upper management to coach in his old stomping grounds. And with a record-setting crowd of 19,661 in the Corel Centre, fans were in for a treat, witnessing the genesis of what is still considered by many as the greatest Senators roster ever assembled. GM John Muckler brought in old Buffalo pal Hasek, and after dispatching the Leafs in Toronto in the league's first-ever shootout, “The Dominator” lived up to his handle in his first home appearance in a 5-0 shutout of his old Sabres teammates. Jason Spezza opened the scoring, three power-play goals were scored off the sticks of Dany Heatley, Wade Redden and Chris Neil, and Martin Havlat scored on a short-handed breakaway. Spezza and Redden each finished with a three-point night, while Zdeno Chara, Alfredsson and Brandon Bochenski chipped in with assists as the Sens rolled out a dynamic four-line attack with Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette, Bryan Smolinski and Peter Schaefer, while Brian McGrattan found his way onto the scoresheet with a heavyweight scrap with Andrew Peters. The Sabres would have the last laugh, though. After Ottawa fans got an unwelcome anatomy lesson revolving around Hasek's adductor muscle — the injury suffered in the Turin


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Olympics — the Senators, with rookie Ray Emery in net, suffered yet another early playoff exit at the hands of the Sabres.

Oct.4,2007 SENAtORS 3 MAPLE LEAFS 2

The shortest summer in Sens history was over, and gone too were the players' longest-ever playoff beards as the Senators took to the Scotiabank Place ice for the first time since June 4 — Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final — to finish off the back half of a home-and-home against the arch-rival Leafs. Once the Eastern Conference championship banner was raised to the rafters, the Senators set about dispatching the Leafs for the second straight game with 19,857 (mostly) red-clad fans cheering along. Heatley — after back-toback 50-goal seasons and days after signing a bigmoney contract extension that would barely be worth the paper it was printed on — scored his third goal in two days after potting the tying goal and the OT winner in Toronto a night earlier. Withe the Sens sporting a 2-0 lead, the Leafs struck back with captain Mats Sundin scoring to tie Leafs great Darryl Sittler for the franchise all-time scoring lead, and 32 seconds later the

game was tied. But while Sundin was the arch-nemesis in Hockey Country, it was Toronto's public enemy No. 1 and Sundin's countryman and captaincy counterpart Alfredsson who decided the game, ripping a wrist shot past Vesa Toskala for the third-period winner. Though his facial expressions never showed it, John Paddock had to be enjoying the 13-1 start to his coaching career before the season went off the rails, and the former Bingo bench boss found himself fired mere weeks after manning the bench in the all-star Game. Murray returned from the front office to guide the Sens to a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Oct.11,2011 SENAtORS 4WILD 3

Missing the playoffs didn't sit well with Senators fans or management, who showed Cory Clouston the door in the off-season. At least he made it to the off-season, unlike those before him — Paddock and Craig Hartsburg — who suffered similar late-season fates. So fans may have been cautious in the approach offered by incoming coach Paul MacLean, who would only go on to become a Jack Adams Award finalist in his

first season as a head coach, and hoist the hardware as the league's best coach in his second season with the Sens, after a lengthy tenure as Mike Babcock's right-hand man in Anaheim and Detroit. Still, fans weren't accustomed to seeing a team just a few seasons removed from a Stanley Cup final wallowing instead in the league basement. An offseason draft haul that netted Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel in the first round — not to mention the locally-groomed J-G Pageau and Shane Prince in later rounds — was still only being measured in potential, rather than performance. The mood was still sour after back-to-back road losses in Detroit and Toronto, and it's a good thing the team squeaked one out in a home-opener shootout over Minnesota. Especially once the Wild took the lead with Heatley notching an assist in his return to the capital after an acrimonious divorce. There was also the fact that fans who chose to attend the next two home games saw the Sens run out of their own building and outscored 14-3 in the process. So it wasn't all wine and roses in MacLean's early days, but

OPENER Aedan Helmer looks back to his favourite Ottawa debuts for the Sens

DANIEL ALFREDSSON

third-period goals from Neil and Colin Greening, plus outstanding goaltending from Craig Anderson and clutch 3-for-3 shootout scoring from Spezza, Milan Michalek and Alfredsson showed signs of the good things to come.

WADE REDDEN

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OPENER The resident “goalie of the future” since he was plucked from the 2009 draft class with the Senators’ second second-round pick, Robin Lehner made Bryan Murray look pretty shrewd for demanding the throw-in pick in a deal that sent Antoine Vermette to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire and the 46th overall selection. While Leclaire didn’t last, Lehner appears poised for greatness, maturing rapidly from a brash youngster who claimed he was out to steal the starter’s job long before he was ready, to a loyal foot soldier biding his time until the opportunity arose. The playoff success that eluded counterpart Craig Anderson came to Lehner early in his career. As an AHL rookie, he stepped into the crease with the B-Sens facing first-round elimination in the 2011 playoffs and rattled off five straight wins and guided the team to an unlikely Calder Cup championship, posting a 14-4 record with three shutouts and a .939 SV%. Those numbers have been consistent over the past two seasons with his jump to the NHL ranks, where he won the duel with Ben Bishop and is now firmly installed as the team’s backup.

RSon G CRAiG AnDe 2013 team: Senators 3SO -2, 1.69GAA, .941SV%, -9 12 , GP 24 s: at st 13 20

“Andy” has been just dandy for the Sens after coming over in a 2011 deadline deal, with the struggling Brian Elliott shipped to Colorado for journeyman Craig Anderson, who enjoyed his breakout with the Avs in the 2010 playoffs after opening his NHL career as a backup in Chicago and Florida. The trade paid immediate dividends for the Senators, with Anderson providing a shining light in an otherwise dismal 2010-11 season, posting an 11-5-1 record down the stretch. His status as a bona fide No. 1 goalie was cemented, and no star shone brighter than Anderson’s as the lockout-shortened NHL season finally commenced. He was named the NHL’s first star of the month of January after posting a 5-0-1 record. There would have been plenty more hardware in store for the Illinois-born goalie if not for a late-February ankle injury that forced him onto the sidelines for 18 games. Despite the setback, Anderson finished with the league’s gaudiest stats, his sparkling 1.69 GAA and .941 SV% both tops in the NHL and setting franchise records. His career-long post-season drought finally ended as Anderson prevailed in a playoff series for the first time against the Montreal Canadiens.

G Robin LehneR 2013 team: Binghamton (AHL), Senators 2013 stats: 12 GP, 5-3-4, 2.20GAA, .936SV%, 0SO

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OPENER One of the first signs showing the Senators were serious about accelerating the rebuild came on Dec. 17, 2011, when Murray pulled the trigger on a trade that sent David Rundblad — who had previously been acquired at the 2010 draft table for the Senators’ 16th overall pick — to Phoenix for Kyle Turris, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft. Any baggage Turris carried over from a bitter contract dispute with the Coyotes was shed in a hurry once he arrived in Ottawa, acquitting himself quite nicely in a second-line role, before stepping up to first-line duties during Jason Spezza’s lengthy absence. Turris led the team in points (29) and goals (12) last season while playing all 48 games, but where he’s really excelled is in the playoffs, notching nine points in 10 games, while establishing a reputation as a go-to goal-scorer in the clutch. Of course, it helped having captain Daniel Alfredsson riding shotgun on his line the last two seasons, so now it falls to Turris to prove last season’s success was no fluke.

ZA C JASON SPEZ 2013 team: Senators , 5Pts., plus-3, 2PIM 3A , 2G P, 5G s: at st 2013

The Senators’ 2013-14 season begins with the captain’s ‘C’ stitched on a new jersey for the first time since Daniel Alfredsson inherited the duty from Alexei Yashin in 1999. As much as the Sens relied on Alfie’s clutch offence and on-ice leadership during his tenure as the NHL’s longest-serving captain, this young group will look to Jason Spezza to keep the flame. Long gone are the grumblings that surfaced when GM Bryan Murray acknowledged that Spezza would have been open to a trade following Dany Heatley’s messy divorce. Instead, management showed Spezza a long-term commitment and this off-season provided the playmaking centre with an elite scoring winger in Bobby Ryan, the likes of which have not been seen in the capital since Heatley’s departure. A highly creative pivot, fans will still either gasp at a pass that works or groan at one that doesn’t, but either way, Spezza is the straw that stirs the offensive drink. Injury woes and back surgery that limited Spezza to just five games in 2013, though, are still a concern.

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OPENER Jean-Gabriel Pageau already has earned his own theme song from the Canadian Tire Centre crowd, he became the second player in franchise history to score a playoff hat trick — becoming only the fifth player in NHL history under age 21 to do so — and he’s made himself an indispensable cog in the Senators’ wheel. The homegrown forward has become such a fixture on the team’s fourth line, it’s hard to believe he came into this season with only nine regular-season games under his belt. The former Gatineau Olympiques captain was traded in his final season of junior, but he didn’t spend too much time away from home. He spent nearly the entire season in Binghamton after turning pro, and won the audition for the fourth-line role he now occupies in a late-season callup. His playoff hat trick in a 6-1 Game 3 rout of the Montreal Canadiens made him an instant legend, spawning the “Pageau Song” to the mocking tune of the Habs fans’ beloved “Ole,” and also prompting one of Paul MacLean’s better playoff quips, the coach remarking that Pageau would now have “a tough time getting across the bridge (to Gatineau).”

a CoSta C StePhane D

/ Binghamton (AHL) 2013 team: Senators IM , 2Pts., minus-3, 0P 1A , 1G P, 9G s: at st 2013

You can always count on at least one surprise at training camp, and this year it was Stephane Da Costa, whose drastically improved play forced management to send Mika Zibanejad and his two-way contract back to the minors to make room on the roster. Signed as a highly-sought collegiate prospect out of Merrimack College in 2011, the smooth-skating Parisian led the B-Sens in scoring with 13 goals and 25 assists in 57 games last year. Da Costa became well-acquainted with the physical side of the game during his “welcome to the NHL” moment in Toronto in the second game of the 2011-12 season, when he was steamrolled by Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. He’s performed well in callups over the last three seasons, but this year, he grabbed onto his spot in camp and wouldn’t let go. While there is lingering speculation the Senators are showcasing the centre for a possible trade, Da Costa is getting plenty of chances to showcase his crafty playmaking abilities, and making the most of the opportunity.

C Jean-Gabriel PaGeau 2013 team: Binghamton (AHL) / Senators 2013 stats: 9GP, 2G, 2A, 4Pts., plus-3, 0PIM

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OPENER With a take-no-prisoners style that has rattled the glass in many opposition rinks, Zack Smith plays a sturdy physical game and he’s never shied away from the rough stuff, topping out at over 100 PIMs in just about every season he’s played at any level, from the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos to AHL Binghamton to his four-plus seasons patrolling the Senators’ fourth line. He can be a nasty piece of business to line up against. No doubt management would like to see Smith rediscover a bit of the offensive flair that made him a major contributor in the B-Sens Calder Cup run, when he returned to Bingo from a solid sophomore NHL season to score eight goals — including three game-winners — and 20 points in 23 playoff games. One of the Sens’ most reliable faceoff men, the team’s sudden depth at centre has Smith playing left wing, though he still steps into the circle for key draws. He’s developed a healthy hatred for a couple of the Sens’ key rivals, having engaged in several heated scraps with both the Habs’ Ryan White and the Leafs’ David Clarkson.

eninG LW coLin Gre 2013 team: Senators PIM A, 19Pts., plus-5, 11 11 , 8G , GP 47 s: at st 2013

A burgeoning power forward, Colin Greening spent five years in the Senators’ system (drafted 204th overall in 2005) before cracking the roster in 2010-11, scoring six goals and 13 points in 24 NHL games before returning to Binghamton to help the B-Sens on their way to a Calder Cup championship. A heavy hitter, Greening’s 122 hits last season ranked him third on the team behind Chris Neil and Marc Methot, though his tidy 11 penalty minutes indicate a player whose physical game falls well within the rulebook. Greening has shown a knack for clutch scoring, too, netting two game-winners in the regular season and catching fire in the second round of last year’s playoffs, scoring goals in three consecutive games against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His third goal of the series was scored in typical fashion, crashing the opposition net and pouncing on a rebound to cap a memorable double-OT playoff battle, giving the Sens their sole Round 2 victory. Although he’s seen a rotating cast of centres, Greening usually finds himself aligned with winger and fellow college product Erik Condra. A durable forward, Greening has missed only one game through two-plus seasons.

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LW Zack Smith 2013 team: Senators 2013 stats: 48GP, 4G, 11A, 15Pts., minus-9, 56 PIM

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OPENER Now here’s a whole new wrinkle in the Battle of Ontario. Trades between the two archrival clubs are ultra-rare, and so are defections, so fans weren’t quite sure how to react to the signing of former Toronto Maple Leaf Clarke MacArthur. It was old hat for MacArthur, however, having spent plenty of time in enemy territory as an effective utility forward for the Buffalo Sabres. And Sens fans got used to the idea in a hurry after seeing the determined two-way game MacArthur brings to the team’s second line, his puck skills and high hockey IQ creating instant chemistry with centre Kyle Turris and winger Cory Conacher. MacArthur enjoyed three solid seasons in the blue and white before his role and ice time diminished under incoming head coach Randy Carlyle, who twice made MacArthur a healthy scratch in the Leafs’ first round series against Boston. Both MacArthur and former linemate Mikhail Grabovski have sounded off about their time with the crusty coach, which should bring the Battle to a whole new level.

haLek LW MiLan MiC 2013 team: Senators M A, 14Pts., plus-8, 17PI 10 , 4G , GP 23 s: at st 2013

The last holdover from the Dany Heatley deal, Milan Michalek was finally finding his home on the Senators top line when injuries derailed a promising campaign. Michalek enjoyed a resurgence in 2011-12, cracking the 60-point mark for the first time since his sophomore season with the San Jose Sharks. He lit up the Czech League during the lockout and had a strong start to the NHL season — scoring the team’s first goal of the season for the second straight year — before suffering a knee injury during warmup in Pittsburgh that forced him to miss 25 of the next 27 games. Michalek opted for “biologic” treatment over surgery in his recovery, and while he was limited to 23 regular-season games, he managed to return for the playoff run, where he scored five points in 10 games (3G, 2A). While he may have lost a step in his skating over some injury-riddled seasons, the veteran winger is trustworthy enough to be employed in all situations, including the penalty kill, where he scored his first career short-handed goal in Round 2 against the Penguins.

LW CLarke Macarthur 2013 team: Toronto Maple Leafs 2013 stats: 40GP, 8G, 12A, 20Pts., plus-3 , 26PIM

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OPENER With six goals and 10 points in his first 14 games of last season, Erik Karlsson seemed like a lock to repeat his Norris Trophy-winning season. Heck, he was even being touted as an early favourite for league MVP when the infamous “Skate-Gate” swept over Ottawa and dominated league-wide water cooler chatter following a Feb. 13 game in Pittsburgh. Matt Cooke’s reputation certainly preceded him, but was it premeditation when his skate blade stomped the vulnerable back of Karlsson’s leg, or was it just a “freak accident” as Cooke claimed? Owner Eugene Melnyk certainly had his mind made up when he pledged a full investigation, though the hyperbole died down considerably once successful surgery to the lacerated Achilles allowed Karlsson to make a miraculous return on April 25. Though he was missing a step, Karlsson at half speed is still better than most, and he recorded two assists in his first game back to help the Senators clinch a playoff spot that had seemed impossible 31 games earlier. Karlsson, the Sens and their fans all hope he regains his form as the league’s most dynamic defenceman.

ian LW Matt Kass

rs Aeros (AHL) / Senato 2013 team: Houston 47PIM n, , 0A, 1Pts., plus-eve 1G , GP 15 s: at st 13 20

Heading into the 2013 post-season and missing the likes of departed playoff warriors Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner, Matt “The Kassassin” Kassian was brought on board for some much-needed muscle. He scored his first and only goal of the NHL campaign in his third game as a Senator, but his true impact was felt a few games later when he took on two heavyweights in Colton Orr and Frazer MacLaren in the same period against Toronto. Kassian’s unexpected, but welcome, offensive outburst netted two assists in the Game 5 clincher against the Montreal Canadiens, but again, his real impact had already been made on the series. As part of a line brawl brouhaha in Game 3, along with Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Chris Neil and Jared Cowen, Kassian made it clear the Senators would no longer be the ones getting pushed around in the playoffs. Making the roster out of camp as the 13th forward, Kassian is always available — and ready and willing — as the team’s “nuclear deterrent.”

D EriK KarLsson 2013 team: Senators 2013 stats: 17GP, 6G, 8A, 14Pts., plus-8 , 8PIM

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OPENER Fans were wondering what it would take to ignite the first-ever playoff battle between the Sens and their longtime rival Montreal Canadiens. Eric Gryba didn’t leave them wondering for long. The Bell Centre erupted in the second period of Game 1 as Gryba laid a devastating open-ice check on Lars Eller, who was cruising over his own blueline after accepting a blind breakout pass from Raphael Diaz — the now-infamous “Player 61.” Eller was left bloodied and broken on the ice and Gryba was handed a two-game suspension, while earning the enduring wrath of the Habs’ faithful. While that’s the moment most equate with the Saskatoon-bred heavyweight, Gryba proved himself effective in an ever-increasing role with the team last season. After a solid start to the season with Binghamton made him an AHL all-star, Gryba was called up in the days following Erik Karlsson’s injury and soon found himself elevated to first-pairing duty with Marc Methot. Gryba begins this NHL campaign as the team’s seventh defenceman, and will likely rotate in that role with veteran Joe Corvo, depending on the tone of the evening’s opposition.

rcioch D Patrick WiE

ton (AHL) / Senators 2013 team: Bingham , 39PIM , 14A, 19Pts., plus-9 5G , GP 42 s: at st 13 20

No player is more well-primed to benefit from Sergei Gonchar’s departure than the promising Patrick Wiercioch, who enjoyed a red-hot start in Binghamton before making the opening-night squad out of camp. He went on to play 42 games for the NHL squad last season. Blessed with a cannon of a shot, Wiercioch is an emerging force on the power play, where three of his five goals and 10 of his 19 points were tallied last season. His totals were good enough to rank him fifth in team scoring and second among NHL rookie defencemen to Edmonton’s Justin Schultz. The Senators like the college kids — Wiercioch is one of six former NCAA players to make this season’s opening-night roster — and now the ever-maturing 23-year-old is set to commence his sophomore campaign as a fixture of the Senators’ top four. He’ll be given ample time to roam as quarterback of the second-unit power play, while honing his twoway game in 5-on-5 situations. And it sure doesn’t hurt team chemistry that the B.C.-born Wiercioch is also a childhood friend of former Burnaby Express teammate Kyle Turris.

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D Eric Gryba 2013 team: Binghamton (AHL) / Senators 2013 stats: 33GP, 2G, 4A, 6Pts., minus-3, 26PIM


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OPENER His first stint with the Senators, from 2006-2008, was a memorable one on several fronts, and now Joe Corvo is back for a second go-round at age 36. Initially signed to a four-year deal after spending nine years as property of the L.A. Kings, Corvo was everything the Senators had hoped he would be, recording eight points in his first four games, including a five-point outburst on Oct. 26, 2006 in a 7-2 drubbing of the Toronto Maple Leafs that still holds up as a single-game Sens record for a defenceman. His double-OT winner against the Buffalo Sabres in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final seemed to cement his stature in Ottawa, but with intense media scrutiny and fan pressure mounting, the relationship soon soured. By the following season’s trading deadline, Corvo’s request was granted and he was shipped off to the Hurricanes, where he finished out his contract before bouncing around between serviceable stints in Boston, Washington and Carolina. Memories of the acrimonious divorce had some fans scratching their heads when he signed on for another year in Ottawa, where Sergei Gonchar’s departure left a need for a veteran offensive rearguard.

iPs D Chris Phill PIM 2013 team: Senators , 14Pts., minus-5, 43 9A , 5G , GP 48 s: at st 2013

The consummate pro, Chris Phillips had a legion of fans clamouring for “The Big Rig” to assume the vacated captaincy before it went to Jason Spezza. Phillips will serve as an alternate once again in his 16th season, all played with the team that made him the first overall pick of the 1996 draft. You know exactly what you’re going to get from Phillips, who plays a responsible defensive game while bringing a calming veteran influence to the locker room. Phillips has put plenty of battle-tested miles on his 35-year-old frame, so you’d think he’d be prone to breaking down at times, but he’s proven one of Ottawa’s most durable players, missing only three regular season games — and one of them due to the flu — over the last seven seasons. He’s also the subject of some great — if somewhat unexplained — fan lore: When Phillips scores, the team wins. The trend continued through a solid 2013 campaign, with each of Phillips’ five goals coming in a Sens win as the team record improved to an astounding 51-11-4 when Philly lights the lamp.

D Joe Corvo 2013 team: Carolina Hurricanes 2013 stats: 40GP, 6G, 11A, 17Pts., minus-3, 14PIM

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The Ottawa Sun n Wednesday, OctOber 16, 2013

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OPENER The Senators were hoping to give the hulking Jared Cowen a head start on the lockoutstalled 2013 season with some full-time seasoning in Binghamton. Things were going according to plan through the early going, with Cowen recording three assists in his first three games and playing meaningful minutes in all situations until the big man was felled by a hip injury that was supposed to knock him out for the season. But after surgery to repair a torn labrum on Nov. 17, Cowen became the latest Senator to make an unexpected, but welcome return to the lineup on April 16. Noticeably slowed by the injury and the time spent in the recovery room, Cowen managed one goal over the final seven games and added three assists in 10 playoff games. But the 22-year-old selected ninth overall in 2009 showed enough promise to parlay his performance into a four-year contract extension that will pay out an average of $3.1 million per season. He stood his ground through an early training camp holdout, but with the signing, management clearly showed it appreciates his potential and his developing physical presence.

OT D MARC METH 2013 team: Senators 31PIM , 9A, 11Pts., plus-2, 2G , GP 47 s: at st 13 20

GM Bryan Murray has always loved adding local flavour, but that was only part of the motivation for swinging a deal that sent former first-rounder Nick Foligno to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for the relatively unheralded hometown boy Marc Methot, who made his way back to the capital on Canada Day 2012. The deal paid immediate dividends as Methot provided the perfect complement to defence partner Erik Karlsson — the rugged yang to the flashy yin — with his hard-nosed style and defensive awareness allowing the freewheeling Karlsson room to motor. Never to be confused with an offensive dynamo — even going back to his junior days with the powerhouse London Knights — Methot brings a boatload of intangibles, averaging 22 reliable minutes per game, leading the Senators with 81 blocked shots and ranking seventh among NHL defencemen with 130 hits while providing character and a strong presence in the room, on the ice and in the community he calls home.

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The Ottawa Sun n Wednesday, OctOber 16, 2013

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OPENER One of Ottawa’s speediest skaters, Condra brings his wheels and his defensive conscience to whatever line he plays with. Educated in the NCAA circuit at Notre Dame, Condra plays an educated game as well, often employed on the penalty kill, on checking units shutting down the opposition’s top stars, and on shifts where a jolt of energy is required. If Condra had the hands to match his other assets, and the ability to finish the numerous chances he creates with his speed, he’d be a first-line player, but he’s never been able to prove himself as a consistent scorer. He’s seen his share of wide-open 6-by-4-foot targets, only to leave fans asking, “How did that not go in?” With his attention to detail and his competitive attitude, Condra has excelled in the playoffs. He was one of a handful of the Bingo Boys who won the AHL’s 2011 Calder Cup before showing his promise in 2012 against the New York Rangers and breaking out in last season’s run, forming the team’s most consistent trio with Colin Greening and J-G Pageau.

RW ChRis Neil 2013 team: Senators , 12Pts., even, 144PIM 8A , 4G , GP 48 s: at st 2013

There is perhaps no one else in the league whose game is best defined by his compete level like Chris Neil. Fearless in the rink and feared in the ring, Neil takes on pugilists well above his weight class, but his importance to his team goes way beyond his fists. He’ll serve as one of Senators coach Paul MacLean’s key field lieutenants while bringing an intense physical edge to spark his own teammates. He’s also the first to step up in response. Neil drives the engine — dishing out the big hit, the high-energy shift, and chipping in with occasional offence — and he drives his detractors nuts with his on-ice swagger. But though often labelled a dirty player by opponents, and falsely accused of a lengthy history of suspensions by then-New York Rangers coach John Tortorella — when in fact Neil had never been suspended in a 12-year NHL career — Neil plays on the edge, but rarely goes over it. Hitting the 2,000 penalty-minute plateau for his career last year, Neil finished second in the league in hits (206) and PIMs (144).

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The Ottawa Sun n Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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OPENER After hoisting the Calder Cup in his first full pro season with AHL Norfolk in 2012 — a year after Binghamton’s title run — Conacher was an early contender for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. He caught fire when he made the jump to Tampa Bay, scoring in his first NHL game and notching 12 points in his first seven with the Lightning. He had a similar early impact with the Senators after the former American League MVP — only the fourth time in AHL history the award went to a rookie — was acquired in a deadline day deal for Ben Bishop. A waterbug with world-class wheels, standing 5-foot-9 and a sturdy 180-pounds, Conacher was brought in to provide speed on the wing and the kind of secondary scoring he managed in the playoffs, with three goals against the Canadiens. He won the job in the vacated right-wing slot alongside Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur, the trio showing some good pre-season chemistry. Management likes his character as well, as the 23-year-old sophomore has matured quickly while coping with his well-documented diabetes.

n RW Bobby Rya 2013 team: Ducks 17PIM 19A, 30Pts., plus-3, G, 11 , GP 46 s: at st 2013

Not since the days of Dany Heatley have the Senators boasted a player with such pure offensive potential as Bobby Ryan. Bryan Murray didn’t wait long to replace the offence Daniel Alfredsson took with him to Detroit on the opening day of free agency, and the captain’s departure only increased the already-hefty price tag for the former Ducks star winger. The ink was barely dry on Alfie’s contract when Murray pulled the trigger on the July 5 deal, the Senators parting with highend prospects Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen, along with a 2014 first-round pick to secure Ryan’s services. Still, consistent clutch goal-scorers don’t grow on trees, and management is hoping Ryan’s four straight 30-goal seasons are just the beginning for the 26-year-old Cherry Hill, N.J. native, who’s just entering his prime. Fans are reasonably leery, however, considering the high cost paid to bring Ryan back to the city where he was drafted second overall — just one spot below Sidney Crosby — and the money it will cost to keep him once his contract expires at the end of next season. Until then, at least, Ryan will play prime-time minutes as the go-to sniper for Jason Spezza.

2013 team: Syracuse (AHL)/Tampa Bay/Senators 2013 stats: 47GP, 11G, 18A, 29Pts., plus-3 , 20PIM

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The Ottawa Sun n Wednesday, OctOber 16, 2013


20 ADVERTISING FEATURE

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The Ottawa Sun n Wednesday, OctOber 16, 2013

The Good Guys Are Back In Town!

Let the home season begin. Let the crowds make noise. Let’s keep our eye on the prize. Let’s have a great hockey season. Welcome to the Home Team. The good guys are back. Bring on the bad guys. AD{TS2708985}

Ottawa Senators season preview  

Sens Army rejoice, NHL hockey is back in the nation's capital. Take a look at the 2013-14 lineup taking to the ice this season.

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