When the Red Wings move to the Eastern Conference next season they will find themselves in familiar, but unfamiliar territory. Some fans remember when the Wings would play against Toronto, Montreal, and Boston in the original six days, but those days are no more. The new Red Wings and their fans will have to adjust to the new conference and teams.
Jared Crozier from Senshot was gracious enough to answer a few question about the Senators and our new conference.
What is something Red Wing fans need to know about the Senators?
JC: The Senators have become a difficult team to play against. While they have had a multitude of injuries to top players (something the Wings can sympathize with), they have developed a persona that has been adequately described as Pesky. Coach Paul MacLean (former Red Wings assistant) has created a team-first mentality where is doesn’t matter who is in or out of the lineup, the expectation remains the same – win. By the time the Red Wings and Senators square off next season, hopefully it will be all hands on deck and the injured players will come back with the attitude to match what has gone on this season. MacLean has brought the Wings’ style of puck possession with him to Ottawa and it will be fun to watch two teams with the same style go head to head 5 or 6 times a year.
Me: MacLean has done a good job in Ottawa, but the Master never divulges all of his secrets to the student.
Which Red Wing player are Senator fans most afraid of playing against next season?
JC: I think the player who puts fear into any opposing team on the Red Wings is Pavel Datsyk. But with some slow-footed defensemen on the Senators roster next season, the slippery Datsyuk could be the biggest nightmare for them. Given what Dasyuk was able to do to Logan Couture the other day, I hate to see what he would do to Chris Phillips or Eric Gryba. The Senators might need some Boy Scouts to disentangle the knots in the Senators legs.
Me: Datsyuk can take advantage of any player, on any team, and in any arena.
Which player from the Senators should Red Wing fans fear?
JC: The Red Wings should be afraid of defenseman Erik Karlsson. Picture Datsyuk as a defenseman, and thats basically what you get with EK65. When healthy, there isn’t a defenseman in the game who is more adept at carrying the puck and getting his team out of trouble. He was criticized in his first couple of years for not paying enough attention to the defensive end. He rectified that in the first part of this season and although he will never have the size to compete physically, his hockey smarts and quick stick has turned him into a very good defensive player.
Me: Karlsson Reminds me of when Sergei Fedorov played defense for the Red Wings and yes it certainly scares me. I will have to wear my brown pants when he is on the ice.
How is Erik Karlsson’s rehab coming along?
JC: Karlsson’s rehab hasn’t progressed to the point where he is skating, and a return this season is doubtful unless the Senators can make it deep into the playoffs, and even then it would be pushing it. He seems in very good spirits and his comments have shown a level of leadership that I didn’t know he was capable of.
Me: As of now he is skating according to Senshot which is a big step in his progress and I am happy to see he is getting better.
What will Red Wing and Senator fans agree on about our new division?
JC: Fans of the Wings and Sens can agree that the new division, whatever it ends up being named, will be exciting for all teams. Having 4 original 6 teams will reignite some old rivalries and create some new ones. The extra trip to Florida every year won’t be too bad for the players either. The Leafs and Habs are solid opponents and it won’t be easy to make the post-season for anyone, and the playoffs will have to be earned.
The matchup behind the bench will be intriguing as well, as the master (Mike Babcock) will be butting heads with the student (Paul MacLean).
Me: Having 4 of the original 6 in a division is certainly going to bring back memories of the olden days.
A big thank you to Jared over at Senshot for answering these questions and helping us transition to life in the Eastern Conference. Be sure to check them out and we look forward to seeing you next season in Ottawa.