Ottawa Senators

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

Goalie nods: Red-hot Schneider looks to deliver playoff blow to Kings

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Schneider looks to stymie L.A.

The Los Angeles Kings are desperate for points in the Western Conference playoff chase, and will look to get two against one of the NHL’s most in-form goalies tonight at Prudential.

Cory Schneider gets the start for New Jersey, looking to continue what’s been an outstanding month of March; he’s gone 3-3-1 with a 1.94 GAA and .939 save percentage in seven starts, bumping his overall numbers on the season to .929 (second-best save percentage in the NHL) and 2.16 (fifth-best GAA).

The Kings have lost three of four and their offense has sputtered over that stretch, scoring just five times. That doesn’t bode well for a matchup against Schneider, who has held opponents to two goals or fewer in 25 of his last 31 appearances.

For L.A., no word yet on who’ll start but Jonathan Quick appears likely.

Elsewhere…

‘Hawks at ‘Canes: Corey Crawford vs. Anton Khudobin

Wild at Leafs: Devan Dubnyk vs. Jonathan Bernier

Sharks at Sens: Antti Niemi vs. Andrew Hammond

Sabres at Stars: Anders Lindback vs. Kari Lehtonen

Avs at Flames: Semyon Varlamov vs. Karri Ramo

Jets at Oilers: Ondrej Pavelec (probable) vs. Ben Scrivens

Pavelec, Turris, Bishop named NHL’s three stars of the week

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Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec, Ottawa forward Kyle Turris and Tampa Bay netminder Ben Bishop have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Mar. 22, the league announced on Monday.

More:

Pavelec went 3-0-0 with a 0.97 goals-against average, .970 save percentage and one shutout to help the Jets (37-23-12, 86 points) pick up three straight wins and maintain the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Turris led all players with four goals and shared first in the NHL with six points to power the Senators (36-24-11, 83 points) to three consecutive wins, moving the team within one point of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Bishop posted a 3-0-0 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and .935 save percentage to lead the Lightning (45-21-7, 97 points) to three straight victories, all against divisional opponents.

Quite the response from Pavelec who, you may recall, was under a fair bit of scrutiny two weeks ago. After it looked like Michael Hutchinson had emerged as Winnipeg’s No. 1, Pavelec let in an outrageous game-losing goal from center ice against St. Louis; the following day, he had a curious exchange with reporters in which he expressed frustration about how little he’d been playing.

Related: Hutchinson or Pavelec — who should the Jets go with down the stretch?

Video: Roenick eats burger to praise the Hamburglar

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You know how Lee Corso would predict college football winners with a nod to that team’s mascot? Perhaps Jeremy Roenick can be like Corso for hockey … just hungrier and feistier.

Roenick debated the Eastern Conference playoff race with Mike Milbury on Sunday, choosing “The Hamburglar” Andrew Hammond’s Ottawa Senators over Milbury’s choice of the Boston Bruins in the tastiest fashion possible (updated with working video):

Count this post as one vote for this becoming a running gag.

The Hamburglar and Senators win again to the delight of hungry fans

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The Ottawa Senators very well could give their fans a playoff berth. That’s to be determined.

But for those fans who attended Saturday’s game between the Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, they get a free regular hamburger at any participating McDonald’s restaurant because the Senators came away with an important 5-3 victory over their provincial rivals.

From the Senators:

The Ottawa Senators and McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada announced today that if the Senators win tonight’s 7 p.m. game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, fans will be able to redeem their ticket for a free regular hamburger at participating McDonald’s restaurants in the Ottawa and Gatineau area on Sunday, March 22, 2015.

Tonight’s hamburger promotion is in addition to the “Big Mac® Minute”, which provides fans attending Senators games at Canadian Tire Centre with the opportunity to redeem their ticket for a free Big Mac if the Senators score a goal in the final minute of the third period. If the Senators score in the final minute of the third period and win the game, fans would be able to redeem their ticket for both a hamburger and a Big Mac.

Now, that’s all well and good.

But the Senators have been on a roll. And it looks like they’re having fun, too. Hamburgers thrown on the ice in salute to goalie Andrew Hammond, known as The Hamburglar, and rookie Curtis Lazar picking one up off the ice and chowing down?

Their win versus Toronto moves them to within one point of the Boston Bruins — Boston lost to Florida in a shootout — for the final Wild Card spot in the East.

The Senators have now won six in a row and nine of their last 10 games. And Hammond, he just continues to pile up the wins as the unlikely goalie hero in Ottawa.