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Captain, goaltending among Senators' five questions

by Sean Farrell

After years of stability with Daniel Alfredsson as the captain, the Ottawa Senators will be looking for a new source of on-ice leadership for a second season in a row.

Who, if anyone, will take the captaincy this season is among five questions the Senators will be looking to address as they get ready to work their way back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

1. Who will be the Senators' new captain? -- Chris Phillips? Erik Karlsson? They are two possibilities after Jason Spezza was traded to the Dallas Stars in July.

Ottawa coach Paul MacLean is not committing to anyone to fill the role at this point. Having gone through the process last year when Alfredsson left to sign with the Detroit Red Wings, the Senators plan on taking their time and being thorough in their quest to find a new captain.

"We're going to do the same thing we did last year," MacLean said. "We're going to talk to lots of people. [General manager] Bryan Murray and I are going to have lots of discussions about it. We're going to talk to lots of people in the business. We're going to try to find out who we believe is going to be the right guy to be the captain of our team, and when we make that decision we'll make that announcement. I don't think putting a timeframe on it is the right thing to do. Much like last year, when we're ready to make that decision we'll announce it."

2. Will Curtis Lazar begin the season in Ottawa? -- The 17th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft hopes to make it full-time in the NHL as a 19-year-old.

MacLean told that Lazar will have to come to camp and make the team; nothing will be handed to him. So while the opportunity is there, the onus is on the talented young forward to show that he is capable of handling an 82-game schedule against fully developed men. The silver lining if he doesn't make the team is he'll play another season with the defending Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League and likely earn a spot with Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

3. Where is Mika Zibanejad going to play? -- The sixth pick in the 2011 draft, the Swedish forward moved between the top-six and bottom-six throughout the 2013-14 season as he alternated between wing and center.

Senators center Kyle Turris believes Zibanejad will continue to grow into his role on the team and Spezza's departure opens up some possibilities for the 21-year-old. MacLean wants to be mindful of Zibanejad's development and appreciates the versatility that David Legwand brings to his lineup, making various line combinations possible.

"A lot of them [centers] can move to the wing," MacLean said. "The only one of them that probably couldn't move to the wing would be Kyle. Everyone else has the ability to play on the wing as well. If that's the case, that makes us a bigger and deeper team."

Craig Anderson
Goalie - OTT
RECORD: 25-16-8
GAA: 3.00 | SVP: 0.911
4. Who is Ottawa's starting goalie? -- Craig Anderson got the majority of the work when he was healthy last season, but Robin Lehner just signed a contract extension.

MacLean made it clear that Anderson was his No. 1 goalie last season and nothing appears to have changed going into 2014-15. Teammates praised Lehner's positive approach to the backup role, and it's expected that the 23-year-old Swede ultimately will develop into a No. 1.

5. Will the Senators be more successful at home in 2014-15? – Ottawa's better record on the road than at Canadian Tire Centre needs to be addressed.

The Senators finished the season strong to post an 18-17-6 record at home but only three teams in the Eastern Conference had fewer home victories. A 19-14-8 mark on the road shows Ottawa had a better fate within its reach if only it had been more consistent in front of its own fans.

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