Player Spotlight: Sergei Gonchar
(Editor's note: As the 2012-13 season draws closer, ottawasenators.com will take a daily snapshot look at some of the returning players from last year, with both a look back and a look ahead).
2011-12 stats: 74 GP, 5 G, 32 A, 37 PTS, 55 PIM, -4 rating
Last season: It can probably be said that Gonchar's performance in his second season in Ottawa mirrored that of his team, which went from an also-ran in 2010-11 to a surprising return to the Stanley Cup playoffs last year. The native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, boosted his point total to 37 — 10 more than in his debut season with the Senators, and second-best among Ottawa blueliners — and lowered his plus-minus rating significantly as well. In an April 1 road matchup with the New York Islanders, Gonchar netted his first game-winning goal with the Senators in a 5-1 triumph that also proved to be a post-season berth clincher for the team.
The highlight: The milestone games continued to arrive for Gonchar, as he played his 1,100th career NHL contest on Jan. 19, when the Senators dumped the Sharks 4-1 in St. Jose. During the 2010-11 campaign — his first in an Ottawa uniform — Gonchar hit the 1,000-game plateau.
Looking forward: With the Senators potentially adding more youth to their blue line in 2012-13, Gonchar's veteran presence grows further in importance. The Russian defenceman also figures to retain a prominent role on Ottawa's power-play unit — he's one goal shy of 100 career NHL markers with the man advantage — and the Senators no doubt hope he continues to chip in offensively as he did in his bounce-back season of 2011-12.
Quote: “When you're playing in the NHL, you have 20 guys that make each other pretty competitive. We all want to prove something. When you have a season like we had (in 2010-11), you want to come back and you want to be better. You want to prove it, not only to the people on the outside, but to yourselves as a group.”