There's nothing like seeking sweet revenge to kick off a new season so it's easy to see why the Ottawa Senators would have that on their minds tonight.
After all, when hockey counts, the Maple Leafs have been the Sens' daddy in the playoffs for a few years now. So changes were made in the nation's capital following the most-recent Leafs' post-season victory. Out went coach Jacques Martin and goalie Patrick Lalime; in came Bryan Murray and Dominik Hasek. Later, Marian Hossa was traded for Dany Heatley.
But keep an eye on centre Jason Spezza, who led the AHL in scoring during the NHL lockout. He has the offensive freedom he needs to exploit his array of skills. He led the NHL in pre-season scoring with 16 points and has been magical with Heatley and rookie Brandon Bochenski.
Overall, Ottawa's speed could be deadly.
Enforcement of new rules has not been beneficial to defenceman Zdeno Chara, who no longer can pick people up and throw them over the boards. Chara has been having trouble adjusting.
It's going to be interesting to watch Hasek in his first NHL game since December 2003. He was 4-1 in the pre-season with a 2.54 goals-against average.
The Sens are being picked to finally realize their potential and advance to the Stanley Cup final. If they remain healthy and Hasek doesn't go in the tank, there's no reason why it can't be done.
- Peter Schaefer-Bryan Smolinski-Martin Havlat.
- Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza-Brandon Bochenski.
- Chris Neil-Mike Fisher-Daniel Alfredsson.
- Antoine Vermette-Chris Kelly-Brian McGrattan.
- Tor: D Ken Klee, heel, day-to-day.
- Ott: LW Vaclav Varada knee, out indefinitely.