Last spring, the Ottawa Senators' defensive corps was bruised and beaten, in rough shape — and that was just from abuse hurled at them by media and fans.

There was basis for the criticism. From the moment Filip Kuba broke his leg in training camp, Ottawa's defence seemed to be in distress. Sergei Gonchar needed a period of adjustment after coming over from Pittsburgh. Chris Phillips missed his stalwart partner, Anton Volchenkov. Erik Karlsson was still in the early stages of becoming Erik Karlsson.

Toss in Daniel Alfredsson's bad back, some lacklustre forward play, plus the indifferent goaltending provided by Brian Elliott and the perma-injured Pascal Leclaire, and it's no wonder the Senators had the fourth-worst goals-against average in the Eastern Conference, yielding 3.04 goals per game. Their 250 goals allowed was the most by a Senators team since the bad old days of 1995-96, when they gave up 291.