SUN writers predict NHL playoffs

TIM BAINES, DON BRENNAN, BRUCE GARRIOCH AND CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

In a wild and wacky off-season, the Senators dumped Dany Heatley and added Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and Alexei Kovalev. What should we expect in 2009-10?

BRUCE GARRIOCH: Look, I honestly believe that Pascal Leclaire is the best goaltender they've ever had. If he stays healthy, they've got a chance to have a good season.

CHRIS STEVENSON: Their chances of making the playoffs just got better with the Habs losing Andrei Markov for four months with a lacerated tendon.

DON BRENNAN: Like the Habs had a hope in hell of making the playoffs. As much as I hate agreeing with anybody or sounding optimistic, I'm with Bruce. The problem with the Senators at the start of last year is they had a terrible goalie and a coach who tried to make them something they're not. Those aren't problems any more. I also think Alex Kovalev is going to make everybody forget about Suck Hole.

TIM BAINES: Their chances of making the playoffs got plenty better when Dany Heatley got his spoiled ass booted all the way to San Jose. Anything less than a playoff spot would have to be considered a failure.

GARRIOCH: You mean selfish suckhole, Tim.

BRENNAN: Why do people always say that? "Anything less than a playoff spot would be considered a failure." Gee, really? Are there teams that will miss the playoffs and say, "we had a great and successful season?"

BAINES: There you again, Don. It's all buddy-buddy out of season. We play golf, I take your money. Then it comes time for Digital Faceoff and you're back to your petty silliness. I guess you could say not winning the Stanley Cup is a failure, too. That means there are gonna be 29 failures this season. Losing really sucks.

BRENNAN: I think we're buddy-buddy on the golf course SOME of the time, Tim. Other times, well, I think they're going to be selling tickets to next year's Media Event during Sun Scramble week. And as far as you taking money on the course ... didn't I relieve you of 27 bucks on your birthday? And you're changing your tune about what constitutes a successful season. I'm just telling you it's too early to dust off your tired old cliches.

BRENNAN: Suck hole is definitely two words, Bruce. I found it in my Australian dictionary. There was a picture of Heatley beside it. Hey, he was pretty good in his Sharks' debut, eh? A minus-3 and ripped by his coach. I wonder how long before he asks for a trade.

GARRIOCH: Look, goaltending is going to be the key. Leclaire has a strong resume. A GM told me he thinks Leclaire can be one of the top 10 goalies in the NHL. That is something this team hasn't seen in a while. He's also not the type of guy who's going to cause any questions with his personality. Doesn't get too high or too low. Always on an even keel. That will be a big change for this team. Goaltending they can rely on.

STEVENSON: Leclaire has got a ways to go to be better than Dominik Hasek and Patrick Lalime's regular-season numbers were pretty good. Ray Emery helped them to the final. I think Leclaire is going to have to be pretty good to be "the best Senators goalie ever." He hasn't really done anything in his career except be a first-round pick.

GARRIOCH: Yup, Hasek was really good for them, Chris. Lost that argument. Lalime took them a long way. Lost that argument. Move on.

STEVENSON: So what you're saying, Bruce, is Leclaire has to get them to the final to be the best goalie they've had? Because they've had a guy do that. Or does he just have to finish a season because Hasek couldn't do that? Hasek was about the best in the league in his time with the Senators. He got hurt and quit on them. I want to know what Leclaire has to do, besides be a nice guy and not get too high or low, to be the best Senators goaltender ever? Show up for work on time?

GARRIOCH: Um, Chris, he has to stop the puck. I think that's pretty obvious. Don't you?

BRENNAN: Is second in the division going to be good enough to get the Senators in the playoffs? Cuz that's where they're gonna finish, right behind the B's. Tim, do you need us to mention any names so you can put some photos with this debate when you're laying out the page? If yes, then ... Gina Carano, Gina Carano and um, Gina Carano.

STEVENSON Apparently Don would like to put Gina Carano with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, so to speak.

BRENNAN: I'm thinking Spezza and Alfredsson would, too.

BAINES: What about David Letterman admitting he bonked a bunch of backstage bimbos?

BRENNAN: That Letterman story needed photos.

STEVENSON: Among the last things I want to see is Letterman exposed. Maybe he could do a different kind of Top 10 list now.

GARRIOCH: If he had revealed that the night the New York Rangers were on the Top 10, Letterman could have called himself a real stickman.

BRENNAN: I think this is shaping up as the best Digital Faceoff so far this season.


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