Five Questions: Surging Senators & Ryan Miller's brilliance | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaFive Questions: Surging Senators & Ryan Miller's brilliance

Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 05:08 PM

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Dustin Byfuglien (No. 33) of the Winnipeg Jets is taken to the boards by Jared Cowen (No. 2) and Nick Foligno (No. 71) of the Ottawa Senators during Monday's game. (Marianne Helm/Getty Images) Dustin Byfuglien (No. 33) of the Winnipeg Jets is taken to the boards by Jared Cowen (No. 2) and Nick Foligno (No. 71) of the Ottawa Senators during Monday's game. (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

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Have a question for Cassie Campbell-Pascal of Hockey Night In Canada? Here's where you can begin the dialogue. Send a question and Cassie just might provide you with the answer.
Have a question for Cassie Campbell-Pascal of Hockey Night In Canada? Here's where you can begin the dialogue. Send a question and Cassie just might provide you with the answer.

1. Why have the Senators turned from a team in the basement to a playoff contender over night? - K
rter Kok

The Ottawa Senators coaching staff has to be given a lot of credit for this. Paul McLean and his staff have gelled as a unit after a rocky start to which he admitted to me, that he felt it would be about 15 games before the coaching staff understood their roles as a group. 

McLean as the head coach gets most of the credit, but don't discount what Dave Cameron and Mark Reeds bring to the table as both were head coaches last year with their respective junior teams. 

You also have to look at a healthy Daniel Alfredsson and a bounce back year from other veterans like Sergei Gonchar, Filip Kuba and Chris Phillips. Jason Spezza has also played his best hockey. 

I also think that although Kyle Turris has struggled down the stretch, bringing in a second line centre has given McLean more options and also forced other teams to worry about a two line attack from Ottawa, something they haven't had for a while. The energy from the Binghamton group from last season shouldn't go unnoticed.

2.  Is it likely that the Nordiques will return to the NHL for the 2012-2013 season? -  James Loewen

I am still skeptical about Quebec getting a franchise in the 2012-2013 season. I think it would be nice to have yet another Canadian team, but Gary Bettman will do everything in his power to keep as many franchises as possible in the US where they are currently located.

There is no question that the hockey group in Quebec has passion and desperately wants an NHL team back. The news that a deal has been reached to construct a $400 million, 18,000 seat arena complex that is scheduled to be ready for 2015 shows that if the opportunity to have an NHL team is there Quebec will be ready.

3. What does Brian Burke have to do in the off season to get the Leafs back in the playoffs? - 
Layne White 

There are three main things that Brian Burke has to focus on to get the Leafs back into the playoffs. First, bring in a goaltender who can insulate James Reimer as he goes through the growing pains of being an inexperienced goaltender.

Secondly, a second line centre. I must admit that Tim Connolly in my opinion has done an admirable job playing on a third line checking role, but he hasn't panned out to be the centre they needed.

Thirdly, and of no less importance than the other two, bring in veteran leadership. I think Dion Phaneuf is a good young captain, but the key word is young. In St Louis they also have a young captain in David Backes and this year they surrounded him with veteran leaders who have won. Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner, who although are closer to the end of their careers, still provide a stability and a sounding board that all young captains need. It was tough this year for Dion who also had two of his assistants in Mike Komisarek and Colby Armstrong often sitting in  the press box. They did their best to stay positive, but when you are a leader who is not playing it is hard to say the things that need to be said when your own game is struggling.

4. What do you attribute Buffalo's second half success to? - Craig Leveque

A guy by the name of Ryan Miller. He stopped talking and listening to the critics and just started to stop pucks. At a certain point in the season he became the most quoted guy in Buffalo. Some goalies can handle that but most need to have their extra space to concentrate on consistency and confidence.

There were a lot of players who were also inconsistent in front of him, but in my opinion Buffalo still doesn't have the team in front of Miller that if he has a bad stretch they can still survive.

5. Cassie, can you express in words,  how it felt to win your first Olympic gold medal? - Andrew Torell

T
o be honest, no! It's a tough thing to describe. When I was growing up I never knew I would have the chance to be an Olympic gold medalist as an ice hockey player. It was kind of like your best day times 1000, all wrapped into about 30 minutes of delirium. The best part for me was in 2002 was that when we won, for whatever reason, I was at the right end and got my medal first and then got to see the faces of my teammates as they got their own.

In 2002 we really shouldn't have won as we played against Team USA who had been centralized for four years and had pumped a ton of money into their program. We beat the USA dream team and we did it by coming together when it mattered the most and getting solid performances by so many players.

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