We bring very high hopes into our season-opener Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators.
We are being up front. We expect to make the playoffs with this club. We understand the importants of every point. We understand the challenges of getting off to a good start and maintaining it through the year. We understand all of it. We embrace all of it.
Naturally, there will be changes in our roster. Anton Stralman and Staffan Kronwall could be on the opening day roster but because they don’t need to clear waivers, they will probably open up in the American League. If they are not in the opening night lineup, we’ll probably keep them off the salary cap. Whenever there is an opening, we’ll pop them back into the big-league lineup.
Kronwall may play against Ottawa on Wednesday but we’ll see how that goes. Carlo Colaiacovo and Kyle Wellwood are injured. Wellwood is out for a while and Carlo, for a week or so.
Andy Wozniewski is on our team this year. Andy had a good camp, as he did last year before running into shoulder and hip injuries. Andy has good size, he’s mobile, he has a good stick and it looks like he has a higher level of confidence. He knows that he belongs and he looks more assertive defensively.
Kris Newbury gives us energy and grit. He’s got pretty good hands. He’s proven he can score at the American League and OHL level. He can play centre and kill penalties. Put all those things together and he’s a guy you can use.
Stralman performed well at our rookie team and it was evident that he was above that level. We’re not likely to see him in our opening night lineup but it’s not a matter of if he’s going to play in the NHL, it’s a matter of when.
Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala are two players who will help us immediately. Jason looked ready to go in training camp. Toskala did not have the best camp but I think you need to look at the body of work. He’s well over .500 in his career and he was 16 games over last year. We know we’re going to be better with the combination of Toskala and Andrew Raycroft.
Obviously, we expected Kyle Wellwood up front but we’ve got players Matt Stajan, Alex Steen ready to step in. Those players will demand more from themselves this year.
The demand to win means more expectations. That’s just the nature of the business. Not this job, the business as a whole. Our business is about winning.