The Big Four
“The Four Horsemen” who patrolled the blue line so convincingly last season and propelled Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Final return for another thrilling ride this season.
Few teams can rival the experience and productivity on the blue line that will be at coach John Paddock’s disposal this season.
Chris Phillips is as solid a No. 1 as there is in the League. He can do it all, posting 26 points and a plus-36 mark last season. And, if Phillips is a consummate No. 1, than Wade Redden is 1A material. The 30-year-old Redden is as cool as they come and even a little more polished than Phillips on the offensive side of the puck.
Anton Volchenkov, meanwhile, gives Ottawa its snarl on the back end. The Russian has little respect for his own body, throwing himself in front of pucks at a dizzying and painful pace. He has even less respect for the bodies of opponents, gleefully plastering them against the boards at every turn. Andrej Meszaros, meanwhile, is the hybrid of the Ottawa blue line, contributing at both ends of the ice in an understated, but invaluable, manner.
Get the point
Ottawa’s forwards dominate the power play in a way that few teams can boast. But don’t think for a second that the Senators’ defenders are not capable in man-advantage situations.
Redden is the fulcrum upon which the Ottawa power play turns. He had 15 power-play assists last year. Meszaros, meanwhile, has shown great promise in this area, as well. He had 10 assists as a second-pairing D man.
Ottawa also has power-play specialist Joe Corvo to handle some of the man-advantage duties. Corvo had three power-play goals and 15 points in man-advantage situations.
In the Wings
Brian Lee – The ninth-overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Lee is finally ready to turn pro after two years with the University of North Dakota. Lee managed 25 points with the Fighting Sioux last season and also played a much more solid game in his own end. He has NHL size and skills, but may need some AHL seasoning before he cracks the big time for good.
Tomas Kudelka – Another 2005 draft pick, Kudelka has blossomed at a much later date than Lee, but he is approaching NHL readiness nonetheless. In his final season with Lethbridge (WHL), Kudelka posted 41 points to become the Hurricanes’ best offensive defensemen. He also had an 11-game run with Binghamton, scoring a goal and adding two assists. He should play at Binghamton this season.
Mattias Karlsson – This Swede, now 22, signed an entry-level deal this summer after scoring 32 points in 44 games with Swedish club Bofors. Like Lee and Kudelka, he is noted for his offensive contributions and ability to run the power play. Ottawa hopes he can play for Binghamton this year.
Christoph Schubert – Utilized as a heat-seeking missile on Ottawa’s very effective fourth line, Schubert is still a defenseman by trade. And, it appears that Ottawa would like to see him return to that role, sooner rather than later. The German signed a three-year deal this summer, suggesting his value long-term rests on the blue line, not on the forecheck. Internationally, Schubert has proven himself an adept defenseman at both ends of the ice. If he can do the same for Ottawa, the club will have enviable depth.