With the Dany Heatley drama far behind them and a new season under way, the Ottawa Senators can finally focus on more important things - like playing better hockey than last season. So far they seem to be doing just that, posting a 3-1 record that puts them atop the very early season rankings in the Northeast Division.
Probably one of the biggest additions to the Senators actually took place at the 08-09 trade deadline when the Sens traded for former Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire. However some time spent recovering from ankle surgery kept Leclaire out of the lineup until this season where he is now 2-1 and will look to fend off the Pens tonight.
Leclaire, you might remember, stood between the pipes for the Blue Jackets two seasons ago. During that time he posted an impressive nine shutouts in 54 starts, standing out as a team record and second in the league only to Henrik Lundqvist. Following ankle surgery and the stellar play coming from Steve Mason (who set the NEW Blue Jackets record with 10 shutouts last season), Columbus and Pascal parted ways and sent him packing.
Who to look for on Ottawa - Outside of Leclaire, keep an eye on Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and former Pittsburgh agitator Jarkko Ruutu. Chris Neil and Eric Godard may be a bout waiting to happen but I wouldn't be surprised if Ruutu and Cooke mix it up at some point. Two similar styles may clash...
Last season the Pens went 1-2-1 against the Senators, taking the only win overseas in the second game of the season opener in Sweden. The Penguins have not won a regular season regulation game at Ottawa since April 5, 2007 (but you may remember they did sweep them in the first round of the playoffs in 2008).