Sens Repeat No Done Deal
Sure, the Ottawa Senators look like a formidable team again this season, and out of all the NHL clubs that now have these new "uniform systems," they came out looking the best, which kind of means the least ugly.
I mean, look at the Leafs. They're in a fight just to make the playoffs and their white road jerseys look like aprons. Or boring white t-shirts. They look like overworked Bay St. types with their shirt tails hanging out.
But back to the Sens. Yes, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson are off to crackerjack starts, and Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov look like they could play together for years. And is it just me or does Antoine Vermette look even faster this season?
But two wins over the Leafs does not a juggernaut necessarily make, particularly when the Leafs played the Sens evenly in the season opener on Wednesday and outplayed them handily on Thursday in Ottawa.
The last time we saw these Ottawa fellows, they were being flattened by Anaheim in the Stanley Cup final and Jason Spezza was nowhere to be seen. Well, Spezza spent the two games against the Leafs mostly turning the puck over again and again, which made his line with Alfredsson and Heatley looked oddly out of synch at times.
Martin Gerber made lots of saves, but his rebound control was very shaky and nobody seems to know when Ray Emery's coming back.
And what about Wade Redden? A new six-year, $45 million deal for Heatley on Wednesday again brought into sharp relief how hard it will be for the Sens to continue to pay Redden $6.5 million per season, and that's if they want to.
The Ducks pounded Redden at will in the Cup final, and the Leafs seemed to have a lot of success getting under his skin in the first two games of the season. First, two fourth line grinders, Bates Battaglia and Kris Newbury, somehow lured Redden into fights on opening night. Then last night, the classy Sens blueliner took a minor, lipped off and then found himself serving an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Finally, the Sens were looking a lot like a one-line team, with non-Spezza line forwards contributing only one of the seven goals against the Leafs.
Is all this nitpicking? Maybe, and the Sens may be the best Canadian team. But there were warts exposed in the Cup final loss to Anaheim, and don't think other clubs failed to notice.
Beating the Leafs twice to open the season didn't change that.