Erik Karlsson

Jagr, Panthers keep pace in wild card race

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Jaromir Jagr scored twice, including the game winner, as the Florida Panthers doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2.

Jagr’s second of the night, and 15th of the season, moves him two points back of former teammate Ron Francis for fourth on the NHL’s all-time points list.

With the win, Florida moved four points back of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers trail the Senators by just one point.

Ottawa now trails Boston by three points.

“Everybody knows how important it was to win this game. It was Game 7 for us,” said Jagr. “We just have to get ready for the next Game 7 against Boston.”

Jagr’s agent met with Panthers’ GM Dale Talon on Saturday. The two sides appear interested in getting a deal done, but right now the focus is on the playoff race.

“Nobody really gives those kids any credit,” said Jagr of the young team in Florida. “How young they are, they’re so talented. They’re going to surprise the league in two years. They might win the cup the way and they’re going to get better and better. They don’t even have to do anything and they’re going to get better.”

Jussi Jokinen and Dave Bolland had the other Panthers goals while Dan Ellis made 25 saves for the win.

Florida has points in three straight games and five of their last six.

Senators captain Erik Karlsson scored his 20th of the season and Jean-Gabriel Pageau had the other for Ottawa. The Sens have lost three straight for the first time since Feb. 3-7.

Craig Anderson made his second straight start and made 33 saves in the loss.

Here’s Ottawa’s ‘Don’t Throw Hamburgers’ PSA

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Yesterday, we passed along word that the Senators had asked fans to refrain from throwing objects — hamburgers, specifically — onto the playing surface during games.

Today, the club unveiled its latest initiative in the anti-burger-toss movement: Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot (en francais) starring in the “Take Your Burgers To Go!” public service announcement.

As the video shows, Karlsson and Methot also referenced that Curtis Lazar ate a floor burger.

Sens tell fans to stop throwing hamburgers

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Despite the notoriety Hamburglar-inspired burger tossing has received — see: Lazar, Curtis and Roenick, Jeremy — the Ottawa Senators are ready to shut it down.

“We will continue to abide by both our own and the NHL’s policy to work in the best interests of the safety of our fans and the players — which does not permit items being thrown on the ice during play,” Sens director of communications Brian Morris told the Ottawa Citizen. “There will be zero tolerance for any items thrown onto the ice during play.”

As you’ve probably heard and/or seen by now, Sens fans have taken to chucking quite a large number of McDonald’s hamburgers during Andrew “the Hamburglar” Hammond’s improbable hot streak, during which he’s gone 14-0-1 with a 1.67 GAA and .946 save percentage.

That run of tremendous play has vaulted Ottawa into the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference, which in turn has fired up fans. The Sens missed the playoffs last year and, in mid-February, looked as though they would miss again; Ottawa was nine points back of Boston on Feb. 14, which is around the time Hammond took over the crease and went on his remarkable streak.

The Sens have five home games remaining this season and while they’re probably keen to keep the raucous fan support going, they’re also keen on keeping the playing surface free of ketchup and pickles.

“We are treating this seriously enough that we had Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot tape a bilingual message after practice today that will play in tomorrow’s game,” Morris said. “The message will support the above asking fans not to toss anything on the ice during the game.”

Surging Sens proving importance of youth

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Andrew Hammond may be a great story, and he definitely has a great nickname. But the Ottawa Senators’ playoff push is about way more than a  goalie coming out of nowhere to salvage a once-lost season.

As the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle writes, the Sens’ comeback is just as much a story of a new coach, Dave Cameron, “turning over ice time and responsibility to younger, skilled players and watching them flourish”:

At this point, with Chris Neil, Chris Phillips and Clarke MacArthur out of the lineup, the Sens have by far the youngest team pushing for a playoff spot (average age 25.9).

The biggest beneficiaries of the coaching change back in December, meanwhile, have been Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Curtis Lazar, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Patrick Wiercioch – all of whom fall in the 25-and-under category. And Phillips and David Legwand, the Senators’ two greybeards, are down the most in ice time.

And let’s not forget that Kyle Turris, the NHL’s second star of the week, is only 25 himself, while star defenseman Erik Karlsson is still just 24.

The Sens have in some ways been forced to go with a younger lineup. They’re not a big-budget franchise that’s been in the running for all the top free agents, which is actually something they’ve tried to spin in their favor. (Owner Eugene Melnyk famously said back in 2012 that “any idiot” could spend to the cap.)

Melnyk has promised that the Sens’ payroll will “skyrocket” once all the club’s young players get new contracts. We’ll see to what degree. In the meantime, all that youthful energy and enthusiasm is providing great bang for the buck.

Sens’ drafting and developing, beyond the first round

Wiercioch (42nd overall in 2008)
Hoffman (130th overall in 2009)
Stone (178th overall in 2010)
Pageau (96th overall in 2011)

Related: Why are the Oilers still bad? Look at their drafting

Video: Doughty won’t ‘do anything different’ to try and win the Norris

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Drew Doughty is undeniably one of the best defensemen in hockey. Just 25 years old, he’s already hoisted the Stanley Cup twice and won a pair of Olympic gold medals.

But one thing he hasn’t won is the Norris Trophy.

Why is that anyway?

Well, one possibility is that he hasn’t deserved to yet.

Or, maybe he has, but playing in Los Angeles has hurt his chances with Eastern-based voters.

Or, maybe he’d have a better shot if he scored more points, like recent winners Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban and Duncan Keith.

Regardless, while he’d love to win the Norris one day (“there’s no doubt about it”), he’s “not going to do anything different to try” and win an individual award.

Related: Keith edges Weber, Chara for his second Norris Trophy