Whether Heatley is in the line-up or not ,starting the season strong is key for the Ottawa Senators this year. With so much drama in the off-season the Senators will want to get focused on playing hockey instead of whether Heatley's staying or going. The schedule makers have been kind to the Ottawa Senators; if the Senators don't have a good start the fan are likely headed for a long, long season. Here is a list of the Senators first 11 games.
From my inital thoughts they have only 2 or 3 teams that should be locks to make the playoffs. The rest are either playoff bubble teams or contenders to have the number one pick.
Game 1: Oct. 3rd: New York Rangers (Road)
The Rangers should make the playoffs I see them as a middle of the pack team 4-6. After signing Redden to his crazy contract Sather hands out 5 year - 7.5 million dollar deal/year to injury prone Gaborik.
Game 2: Oct. 6th: Toronto Maple Leafs (Road)
The Battle of Ontario takes on a new turn with Burke in control. The new battle is between the GM that built the Ducks Stanley Cup team and the GM that took credit for building the Ducks Stanley Cup team.
Game 3: Oct. 8th - New York Islanders (Home)
Tavares first road game takes place in the building where he performed his biggest games last year for the WJC. The Islanders are in rebuilding mode, just like they have been since 1987.
Game 4: Oct. 10th Atlanta Thrashers (Home)
The Thrashers, Heatley's (we can't get enough of this fellow) former team, are heading into a season where 10 of their vets are heading into a contract year. Including franchise player Ilya Kovalchuk. So far the Thrashers have been playoff bound once in 10 years.
Game 5: Oct. 12th Pittsburgh Penguins (Home) - Stanley Cup Champions
The Sens get to host Crosby and Malkin. It is the Sens first chance to face a Stanley Cup contender, we should have a better understanding of where the Sens stand after this game.
Game 6: Oct. 15th Tampa Bay Lightning (Home)
Len Barrie after coming up with the 10 million needed for Gary Bettman. Will say that he thinks Martin St. Louis is overrated because he played against him when St. Louis was with the Flames. Then he will trade him to Ottawa for Kelly, Smith and Shubert. My point is Tampa Bay sucks!
Game 7: Oct. 17th Montreal Canadiens - (Road)
The Canadiens are a bubble team this year. The big news will be Kovalev playing against his former team. I think the bigger news should be that the Canadiens signed Jason "Wee-Man" Acuna to be the tough guy on a line with Gionta and Cammelleri. Who knew he even played hockey?
Game 8: Oct. 22nd Nashville Predators - (Home)
Nashville is a team that will be playing for one of the final playoff spots in the west. During the game Mike Fisher will hand a love note to Shea Weber to give to Carrie Underwood when they get back to Nashville.
Game 9: Oct. 24th Boston Bruins - 2008/09 116 Points (Home)
I'm not sure if the Bruins are contenders or just had a good year last year. They remind me of the Senators from three years ago when everyone had a career year and I wouldn't be suprised if they were just an average NHL team this year.
Game 10: Flordia Panthers - (Road)
I don't see the Panthers making the playoffs after losing it's best player and replaced him with Jordan Leopold. The best is that we get to see McCabe attempt to play defense.
Game 11: Tampa Bay Lightning - (Road)
After Chris Kelly scores no goals playing next to Lecavalier, Len Barrie pulls a Lemieux and suits up for TB as a player/owner. Len Barrie says anyone can score playing next to Lecavalier, don't you know he's the Michael Jordan of hockey?
In 9 of their next 15 games are against contenders such as; Devils (twice), Flyers, Rangers, Penguins, Capitals, Devils, Bruins and Sharks, this isn't a friendly schedule for the Ottawa Senators. So Senators need a fast start then perhaps the Senators can start getting back to being in the news for playing hockey rather than the rumor mill.