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NORTHEAST
MICHAEL FARBER
October 10, 2011
BOSTON
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October 10, 2011

Northeast

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KEY LOSSES D David Hale, RW Ryan Shannon

SINCE ASCENDING to the 2007 final, the Senators have been going the other way. Now Ottawa will go still another way on the power play, at least tactically—and that's a good thing.

The Senators plan to shift defenseman Sergei Gonchar—a cipher last season after he signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract—from the left point to the right, where his lefthanded shot is more comfortable, while center Jason Spezza switches to the right half wall after spending his career on the left. "This'll get Gonch a little more involved, because he's a much better player than he showed," says Spezza, a righthanded shot. "Now I won't be able to shoot a one-timer, so I'll have to do it like the Detroit guys: catch [the puck], protect it on the right side and shoot."

Ottawa's altered scheme is part of the Red Wings--ification of a club coached by former Detroit assistant Paul MacLean. He will be warmer and indisputably fuzzier—MacLean has hockey's best mustache—than his predecessor, the imperious Cory Clouston. And improved coach-player relationships should help almost as much as having a full season of Craig Anderson's calm goaltending and sophomore right wing Bobby Butler, who had 21 points in his last 27 games. But good vibes aside, the Senators are still a quart low on talent.

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