1. Sounds like 3-on-3 in overtime will be a thing in 2015-16. Regardless of your opinion on the shootout this has been a change that's been coming for a long time. What's more, is it allows armchair coaches to pick their two 3-on-3 units. For me, the first unit has Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman. These two are explosive together 4-on-4 and their speed will be an asset with more open ice. I'd throw Mika Zibanejad out there as well since he's had some nice chemistry with Hoffman. Let's face it, I'm keeping Karlsson out there the whole time until the Sens score, but a second forward unit would include Kyle Turris and probably Clarke MacArthur or Mark Stone. My wild card? Maybe someone like Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The kid has decent hands, is a responsible two-way player and has decent wheels. Basically, I want fast players who can get back in time to defend inevitable breaks for the other team. Who would you pick?
2. Hypothetical exercise: if you could pick just one of Mika Zibanejad or Kyle Turris to build your forward ranks around, who would you choose? Both have played quite well during the streak and both play possession dominating styles. Zibanejad's the bigger, more powerful body, Turris is the more established two-way player at this point. At 25, Turris the player is pretty much what you see, a 50-60 point producing centre who leads lines which dominate possession and are hard to play against. At 21, Zibanejad has much more tantalizing upside. He isn't as established as Turris, but since the New Year there have been times when Mika looks every bit the number one centre the team has projected him as. He's looked great with Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman and the thought of Mika getting top-line minutes for a full season is exciting. Do you go youthful potential with Zibanejad or do you go reliable experience with Turris and get a player in the prime of his career?
3. Let's take a moment to talk about David Legwand. Moving away from linemates who were anchors or from bottom six roles has been credited as part of the reasons the game of players like Zibanejad, Hoffman, Stone, and Erik Condra have improved. Legwand has spent much of the season weighed down by players like Zack Smith, Colin Greening, Alex Chiasson, and of course Chris Neil. His power play time has been criticized, and rightly so with options like Stone and Hoffman available, but he's produced better than most in that role. He's soaked up some tough minutes and does the job penalty killing. He was a healthy scratch a couple times in January and his ice time has dramatically decreased under Dave Cameron. He's making $3 million this season and next and that's certainly a lot for a fourth line player. However, he's played surprisingly well with Matt Puempel and Alex Chiasson. Puempel's chipped in with a couple goals and both Legwand and Chiasson ended goal droughts recently. We've talked a lot about how good the top six is lately, but the bottom six has vastly improved since Cameron took over. The Pageau line has rightly received much of the credit for this, but David Legwand's quietly been doing his part.
4. For the first time since beating Montreal in five games in the 2013 playoffs, the Senators are experiencing an extended run of fun, good hockey. While we were tentative to commit as fans on the Western road trip, choosing to revel in the sheer joy of finally sweeping California, March has seen the fan base as a whole buy in. Our community is not immune to Hamburglar Fever; we're talking more, reading more, and eagerly anticipating the latest piece of writing on Andrew Hammond. I'm not immune to Hamburglar Fever either. I've written about him and drawn a picture of him holding a burger. It's fun. One of the best parts of this run is that it's uniting stats fans and eye test fans, because neither group could see this coming. We're happily participating in Sens fever and eaten all the burgers to prove it.
Perhaps just as importantly, the team has embraced Hamburglar Fever. Adding the mask to Hammond's scoreboard picture, having Hamburglar Night Thursday against Boston, and giving out 10,000 Hamburglar masks with the support of the Team 1200, illustrates the organization embracing a concept which has organically grown through the players and fans.
That's fantastic and not something every organization would do. With other teams something as iconic as the burger toss would have been shut down right away. Instead, the organization rolled with it and we got more iconic burger moments, courtesy of Curtis Lazar:
Want to keep that fun going? Save your burgers until after the final whistle has blown and our victory is secured. That way the team won't be in a delay of game bind with the league, and we can get more silly young players snacking on the bench.
5. Is this your favourite Sens run? It's certainly memorable, but how does it compare to other great winning streaks?
1996-1997: the Sens go 10-4-2 in the final 16 games of the season, winning the final game 1-0 to earn the organization's first playoff birth
2002-2003: the Sens go on a 10-game unbeaten streak to help secure the team's first Presidents' Trophy
2006-2007: Ottawa rolls through the first three rounds of the playoffs, going 12-3 on the way to a first ever Stanley Cup Finals appearance
2007-2008: The Sens win 15 of 17 to start the season under new head coach John Paddock. The end of this streak marked the end of the team's golden years
2009-2010: The Sens win 11 straight games with Mike Brodeur and Brian Elliott between the pipes to catapult the team back into a playoff position.