Monday Musings: These Ottawa Senators get job done | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: These Ottawa Senators get job done

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 | 06:00 AM

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Sergei Gonchar has helped pick up the slack for the Ottawa Senators since Erik Karlsson was injured. (Al Bello/Getty Images) Sergei Gonchar has helped pick up the slack for the Ottawa Senators since Erik Karlsson was injured. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

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The incredible runs of the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Ryder-for-Cole trade, postponement of the Staal on-ice reunion, some storylines on the U.S. College hockey scene are touched on in this week's Monday Musings.

The Ottawa Senators finally had a relaxing day at the office on Sunday.

After 11 consecutive one-goal games in which they went 5-2-4, the Senators built an early two-goal lead against the Winnipeg Jets and skated off with a 4-1 victory at home.

The amazing Senators, who have played most of the season without forward Jason Spezza and the last month without Norris Trophy defenceman Erik Karlsson, keep inching along toward a playoff spot.

There are a few reasons why they're fifth in the Eastern Conference, seven points clear of the ninth-place New York Islanders with 19 games remaining.

  • They have the best home record in the East at 10-1-3.
  • In the absence of Karlsson, blue-liners Sergei Gonchar, Chris Phillips and rookie Patrick Wiercioch have provided some timely offence.
  • After failing to register a point in the first eight games after Karlsson's season-ending lacerated Achilles tendon injury, Gonchar has gone on a seven-game point streak. He has 10 assists during this run.
  • With four goals in 29 games, those around the team believe Phillips has been his best in years at both ends of the rink.
  • The 22-year-old Wiercioch has four goals and 11 points in 25 games and hasn't looked out of place on the power play.
  • The goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner has been solid in the absence of injured veteran Craig Anderson. Anderson was the leading candidate to win the Vezina Trophy before an ankle injury stalled his season on Feb. 21. But Lehner and Bishop have combined for a solid 7-4-4 record. Lehner is second behind Anderson among NHL goalies who have made five-or-more appearances with a .946 save percentage. Bishop is ninth at .924.

March of the Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are two wins shy from matching the Chicago Blackhawks' season-high, 11-game win streak.

A glance at this week's schedule shows the Penguins play host to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, visit the New York Islanders on Friday and meet the rival Philadelphia Flyers at home on Sunday.

Here are the longest winning streaks this season:

  • 11 - Chicago (Feb. 15 to March 6)
  • 9 - Pittsburgh (March 2-17) *
  • 7 - San Jose (Jan. 20-31)
  • 6 - Boston (Feb. 17 to March 2)
  • 6 - Anaheim (Feb. 9-24)
  • 6 - Vancouver (Jan. 30 to Feb. 12)
  • 6 - Chicago (Jan. 19-27)
  • 5 - Montreal (March 7-16) *

* Active streaks

Ryder hot, Cole cold

You never judge a trade after 20 days, but the Montreal Canadiens have the early edge in the Michael Ryder for Erik Cole swap with the Dallas Stars.

Since the right wings were traded for each other on Feb. 26 -- the Canadiens also received a third-round pick -- Montreal has kept winning. The Stars have slumped. Although the 32-year-old Ryder missed Saturday's 2-1 win in New Jersey because of a lower-body injury, the Canadiens have gone 7-1-1 since the deal. Dallas has struggled along at a 2-4-1 clip.

Playing mostly on his off-wing on a line with Tomas Plekanec and right wing Brian Gionta, Ryder, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer, has two goals and nine points in eight games.

The 34-year-old Cole has only one goal in seven games. He has two more years left on his contract with a salary of $4.5 million after this season.

Staal reunion on hold

When Eric, Marc, Jordan and Jared Staal were kids in Thunder Bay, Ont., they had some epic 2-on-2 battles on the backyard rink on the family farm. It was supposed to be like old times when Eric, Jordan and the Carolina Hurricanes visited Marc and the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

It would have been the first time the three Staals would have played in the same NHL game. Even Mom and Dad, Linda and Henry, planned to be there. But Marc remains on the sidelines after he was hit above the right eye with a puck in a game two weeks ago.

He likely won't return to action until next month, so there is a chance he could be ready in time for the Rangers game in Carolina on Apr. 6 or their next meeting, also in Carolina, on Apr. 25.

Would there be a chance that the youngest, 22-year-old Jared, could also suit up for the Hurricanes? The right wing has not exactly lit the AHL on fire with Carolina's affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, with three goals and five points in 40 games this season. But maybe for a late-season game, if Carolina had a playoff spot locked up, Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford could make the call up.

One more time, my friend

After 40 years behind the University of Boston's bench, head coach Jack Parker announced this will be his final season as coach of his alma mater. He steered his Terriers to a quarter-final sweep of Merrimack over the weekend and now will meet rival head coach Jerry York and Boston College in the semifinals at TD Garden on Friday.

York, whose team got past Vermont to advance despite his absence due to eye surgery, and the 68-year-old Parker go way back. They've known each for 53 years.

They grew up in neighbouring towns outside Boston, York in Waterdown and Parker in Somerville. They played high school hockey against one another. Then in college (York played for Boston College) and for the past 40 years, they have coached against each other.

DeKeyser's decision

The most sought after U.S. college free agent is 23-year-old defenceman Dan DeKeyser. His Western Michigan Broncos were eliminated by the Michigan Wolverines in the CCHA playoffs on Saturday.

But DeKeyser's season may not be over. There's a chance Western Michigan could receive an at-large spot into the NCAA 16-team tournament after all the conference finals conclude on Sunday. The Broncos were ninth ranked in last week's poll.

A minimum of 20 NHL teams will make a bid to sign DeKeyser when his season ends.

Canucks connection

One of the first U.S. college free agents to find an NHL home was 23-year-old Kellan Lain of Oakville, Ont. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Lake Superior State centre signed a one-year, $925,000 entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

His familiarity with the Canucks organization helped lure him to Vancouver. His father Jim taught Manny Maholtra in high school, when the in-limbo Canucks forward played junior for the Guelph Storm.

Lain also is friends of Sam Gagner, son of Canucks director of player development Dave Gagner, and Canucks prospect, defenceman Jeremy Price, who just finished his career at Colgate University and played his first two games for the AHL Chicago Wolves over the weekend. 

Lain will join Price in Chicago later this week.

By the numbers

0 -- Wins in their last six road games since the Calgary Flames dumped the Stars in Dallas 4-3 on Feb. 17. The Flames begin an important three-game road trip in Dallas on Monday.

1 -- Win for the Edmonton Oilers when tied after two periods after they overcame a 1-1 draw to beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 at home on Sunday. Edmonton was 0-6-1 in its previous seven attempts when tied entering the third period.

1 -- Goal scored by Winnipeg in its last 89:31 of action. The Jets appeared exhausted as they wound down a busy stretch of five games in eight days with road games in Toronto and Ottawa on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Winnipeg also was outshot 54-33 during this stretch.

5 -- University Cup national championships in 16 years for the New Brunswick Varsity Reds after a 2-0 win against Saint Mary's in the 2013 final on Sunday.

21 -- Third period and overtime goals for the Canucks in 27 games. Only the San Jose Sharks (16) have scored fewer goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation and overtime this season.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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