Everyone wants to look at it from just a numbers perspective...essentially, just a fantasy hockey perspective. "Oh look, I lost Crosby and Ryan Miller sucked but I still finished first in the league therefore..."
There's more to it than that. One of the reasons why Paul MacLean is a good choice is because the adaptation. Look at the Senators last year, they were a major transition team. Spezza to Karlsson back to Spezza, Spezza to whomever. They were a forward-moving team, good on the attack, generated organic offense on the fly.
Then they lost the guy that moves the puck forward and their center ice puck distributor. It's like telling someone to go ride a bike and then when they sit on it, you take off the back wheel and the handle bars...
So MacLean changed them into a very defensive team with Kyle Turris as their number one center and a bunch d-men that this board has never heard of...Marc Methot was playing #1 minutes for them without Erik Karlsson, Andre Benoit, Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch were a good chunk of the others...and of course, Sergei Gonchar three years after the Moen goal.
In 2012, the Senators scored about 3 goals per game at ES (just behind Philadelphia, Boston and us). This year, 2 and a third...polar opposite, fourth to last ahead of just Nashville, Florida and New Jersey.
In 2012, the Senators surrendered just under 3 goals per game at ES (one of the highest marks in the league). This year, only Chicago surrendered fewer goals at ES. And that could possibly be attributed to Craig Anderson (their starting goalie) missing half the year with an injury.
Oh and ho hum, Craig Anderson broke the save pct. record* that everyone fell all over when Tim Thomas did it* but now this is three seasons in a row where it's been broken*...who saw that coming...who I ask you...who?
Anyway, in this hyper season with limited practice time and limited personnel in Ottawa's case due to injury and an overall lack of NHL ready depth, he completely flipped the blueprint on their game, got them to learn it, execute it and succeed with it. Some teams tried to do that for an entire season and couldn't...MacLean, dare I say, flipped the switch and it just happened...that's harder to do than most people will give it credit for...