Yes, indeed, despite the promise of impending labor Armageddon and a prolonged work-stoppage, your friends at Puck Daddy are previewing the 2012-13 NHL season (whenever the heck it starts). Why? Because this is the most important election in the history of all-time ever, and you need to know the candidates — like the Ottawa Senators.
Many in the hockey world (including your friends at Puck Daddy) weren't expecting much from the 2011-12 Ottawa Senators. What was expected to be a rebuilding year with a new head coach turned into one of the NHL's best stories. Ottawa finished eighth in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Washington Capitals with 92 points, and came within a victory of eliminating the No. 1 seeded New York Rangers before falling in seven games.
The other highlight of the season was 22-year old defenseman Erik Karlsson's breakthrough season of 19 goals and 78 points, the most by a blueliner since Nicklas Lidstrom in 2005-06, which earned him the Norris Trophy. The day after he became the youngest Norris winner since Dennis Potvin in 1976, Karlsson signed a 7-year, $45.5 million deal.
Aside from Karlsson, the surprising Sens had many other things go right for them. Jason Spezza had his best season since 2007-08; Daniel Alfredsson was rejuvenated (and healthy) and potted 27 goals; Milan Michalek scored a career high 35 goals; and in his first full season in Ottawa, Craig Anderson provided solid goaltending.
So what to expect from the Senators in 2012-13? It all broke right last season on the backs of career best and comeback seasons from their top players, and there were no expectations on the team. Can Alfredsson continue playing like a 25-year old in a soon-to-be 40-year old's body? Is a now matured Spezza for real? Can Anderson and Ben Bishop provide adequate coverage in net?
If the answers to those questions in April are yes, then it'll be another extended season in Ottawa.
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