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Senators face early road challenges

Aug 4, 2013, 5:44 PM EDT

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The Ottawa Senators distinguished themselves last season by weathering a dizzying storm of injuries. It’s anyone’s guess if that problem will repeat itself in 2013-14, but at the moment, their greatest concern may be a string of tough road stretches.

It will be crucial for head coach Paul MacLean to keep a young team focused and positive amid a few challenging runs. To start things off, the Senators begin the campaign with six consecutive road games that include two back-to-back sets:

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On the bright side, the Senators load up on home games in November and December – 20 of their 41 Ottawa contests come in those two months – but things could start to get hairy when the calendar hits 2014.

While they start the new year by hosting Winnipeg, most of that first month is rough:

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A stretch from Jan 21. – March 8 is especially treacherous, as the Senators start things off with seven of eight games away from Ottawa, get a little breather with two of three games at home, then face four consecutive road games to begin March. (This includes the Olympic break, which sees them return with a home game on Feb. 27 followed by those four away games to begin March.)

In all, 11 of those 14 games are away from Ottawa.

This is not to say that the Senators face the toughest schedule in the NHL by any means (or even the most grueling beginning, as the New York Rangers kick off 2013-14 with nine games away from MSG). For one thing, their estimated mileage ranks in the bottom five in the league.

Still, for a young team, success might amount to surviving some stressful stretches.

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