Reason for excitement?

Everybody from Eugene Melnyk to Bryan Murray to Cory Clouston to the most optimistic Senators fan has acknowledged that the season is lost.

For most fans, the most exciting days in the next month will be when Murray unloads veterans for hope — either in terms of draft picks or existing prospects.

So, why even bother watching the final 33 games?

Here’s a quick Top 5 list…off the top of my head following Tuesday’s morning skate.

1–Zack Smith. At the danger of overselling the winger, he has four goals while seeing limited action in 22 games. If he’s bumped up to third line minutes on a regular basis, could he be a 15-goal scorer, with a ruggedness that would wear down defencemen?

2–Sergei Gonchar. Face it, fans. The Senators aren’t going to be able to get rid of that contract (two years, $13 million left after this season). He’s not going anywhere. But maybe with all the pressure now removed, we might see him just relax and play a little bit. Once Jason Spezza returns from his shoulder injury, the two should be able to help re-establish something on the power play. It can’t get any worse.

3–Robin Lehner. Sounds like the Senators will be careful, picking the spots when the 19-year-old goaltender gets his chance. It’s a smart strategy, trying to build up his confidence for what could possibly be either a back-up role with the big club next season or as the guy who carries the load in the AHL.

4–Peter Regin/Nick Foligno. These two began training camp in a fight for a second line LW spot and neither could do anything right. Foligno has rediscovered something in the past month — 3 goals, 2 assists in the 6 games before Buffalo. With a decent finish, he could score 15 goals. Regin, meanwhile, should spend his All-Star break trying to figure out how he had convince the Senators he belongs to be an everyday NHL player. He has way too much skill to be stuck at one goal.

5–Milan Michalek. Michalek has had far more jump in the past three weeks and it’s believed that’s because his knee is finally close to 100 per cent following off-season knee surgery. At least that’s the hope. It will be interesting to see if a healthy Spezza and a healthy Michalek can help the sputtering offence the rest of the way. Again, it can’t get much worse, can it?

As for reasons to watch Tuesday’s game versus the Sabres? I’ll give you two — Sabres forwards Nathan Gerbe and Paul Byron. Between them, they weigh less than a Buffalo Bills lineman. And they’re about the same height, too. It’s amazing motivation to see players such as Gerbe (5-5 and 178 pounds) and Byron (5-9, 170 pounds) can compete in a league which now boasts at least a couple of dozen players in excess of 240 pounds.

What do you think? Leave a comment