New responsibilities coming for Sens’ Turris

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Ottawa center Kyle Turris will have new responsibilities on his shoulders both on and off the ice this season.

On the ice, Turris, who turns 25 next month, will attempt the daunting task of filling the void left by Jason Spezza, who was dealt to the Dallas Stars July 1.

Turris has had practice in the No. 1 center role with the Senators filling in for Spezza two seasons ago while the veteran was recovering from a back injury.

“It’s something that I’ve been lucky to learn from Spezz for the three years that I’ve been here,” Turris told reporters Tuesday.  “I know what to expect and I’m going to be more prepared this year if I get the opportunity.”

 

The New Westminster, British Columbia native finished the 2012-13 season ninth among centers winning 49 per cent of his face-offs to go along with 12 goals and 29 points during the lockout-shortened year.

Last season, Turris set career highs in goals (26) assists (32) and points (58). He finished 14th among centers winning 50.7 per cent of his draws.

“I don’t think I’m going to adjust my game, maybe the preparation mentally you have to be a little stronger, outside of that I have to continue to play my game and improve my game,” he said “I think every body is going to have more responsibility to chip in and contribute and it’s something we all understand.

“We’ve played when Spezza has been injured and hasn’t been there and we know what to expect.”

Off the ice, Kyle and wife Julie are expecting their first child next month.

“It’s a new chapter in our life that we both can’t wait to begin,” said Turris.

Originally the third pick in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, Turris was dealt to Ottawa on Dec. 17, 2011 for David Rundblad and a 2012 second round pick.

Turris and his teammates have experience dealing with a veteran leaving, former captain Daniel Alfredsson left as a free agent last summer and the result wasn’t pretty. After qualifying for the playoffs despite having an injury-plauged 20012-13 season, the Senators finished fifth in the Atlantic Division.

“Maybe we’ve learned from it with Alfie,” Turris said. “Now we’ve just got to move forward and get into the right mindset.”

With Turris heading into Year 2 of a five-year, $17.5 million contract, Ottawa will be getting a bargain if he can manage the workload demanded of a first line center. Turris’ cap hit is just $3.5 million.

Related: Sens to begin work on new Anderson contract

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.

Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames

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BREAKING: the Los Angeles Kings really don’t appreciate Calgary Flames rookie-pest-forward Matthew Tkachuk thanks to that elbow on Drew Doughty (and the fallout from all … that).

Tkachuk responded by critiquing Doughty for “complaining to the media,” so there was testiness from the start.

There was jawing before the game. Then Jake Muzzin rebuked Tkachuk’s kind offer for a fight. Finally, Keith’s son dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb:

It wasn’t the only bout of the opening frame, and there could be more blood to come beyond this Jarome IginlaDeryk Engelland feud:

Players from both teams better keep their heads up (and on a swivel) tonight. The Flames have to hope that this doesn’t result in injuries, judging from what happened to Johnny Gaudreau.

Avalanche sign Toews-like first-rounder Tyson Jost

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Things have been pretty bleak for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but at least they can look to a high pick in the next draft … and maybe dream about how their top pick from 2016 may pan out.

The Avs signed Tyson Jost, the 10th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday. Colorado notes that he’ll jump right into some NHL action to close out this season.

It’s a nice sneak preview, as NHL insider Bob McKenzie noted on an NBCSN appearance (see above) that doing so will not burn the first year of Jost’s entry-level contract. Nice.

Even nicer? McKenzie also compares Jost favorably to … (drum-roll, though the headline spoiled it) Jonathan Toews.

Most obviously, the two both starred at the University of North Dakota. For the sake of fun, here are their numbers in their final years in the NCAA:

Jost: 16 goals, 35 points in 33 games, +17 rating (2016-17)
Toews: 18 goals, 46 points in 34 games (2006-07)

Naturally, Toews enthusiasts in particular will tell you that points aren’t everything … but maybe there are some shades of the two-way Blackhawks center there?

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy raved that Jost has “man-strength already” back around the 2016 NHL Draft, as you can see in this profile.

“Jost oozes confidence and already looks like NHL captain material for the future.”

Hey, that does sound at least somewhat Toews-like, doesn’t it?

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In other signing news, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington reports that the Buffalo Sabres signed UMass-Lowell’s CJ Smith. More on that below.

Video: This Kane-to-Panarin goal is all sorts of ridiculous

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When people were arguing against Artemi Panarin‘s Calder case, they often discounted his work because of Patrick Kane‘s brilliance (at least when they weren’t focusing on age questions).

It always felt a little unfair to Panarin.

Do we blame a great wide receiver playing with an adept quarterback? Sure, it’s an interesting discussion to have, but it seems fairly clear that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Panarin and Kane.

One could see that plainly in a 1-0 goal for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Pittsburgh Penguins that … admittedly was driven by Kane’s almost audacious creativity and skill.

But still, Panarin has 26 goals this season because he’s really good, too. This season has been a nice showcase for such thoughts, and a reminder that – like most great combinations – they make each other better.

(Seriously though, Kane was out of his mind there.)