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SportsIf the Current 'Cool' in the NHL is Skating, Ottawa is Sitting Pretty Chill

If the Current 'Cool' in the NHL is Skating, Ottawa is Sitting Pretty Chill

If the Current 'Cool' in the NHL is Skating, Ottawa is Sitting Pretty Chill

SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators hockey written by OLMSports Dave Gross.


Feature photo Courtesy NHLI via Getty Image

Mimicry is the great motivator in the National Hockey League.

A few years back, tanking became the thing to do. After all, look at all the success the Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed after reaping the riches of early draft picks, scoring Stanley Cup wins in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

Hello Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. (The Toronto Maple Leafs have followed suit and now own the league's top set of young guns up front).

When the Los Angeles Kings crashed the party with Stanley Cup wins in 2012 and 2014, the prevailing thought was bigger-is-better. Teams looking for similar success attempted to add size to their rosters.

Nobody needs to tell you - even if you're a modest NHL fan - that Pittsburgh's skill set which landed the Penguins the last two Stanley Cups was/is based on speed.

The Pens absolutely skated their opponents into the ground. From Sidney Crosby to Carl Hagelin to Phil Kessel to Bryan Rust to Kris Letang, Pittsburgh sails.

“Speed works in all zones,” general manager Jim Rutherford told TribLive.com. “You have to go to retrieve pucks when pucks are turned over. Puck possession is so important, so if you've got guys that have the speed to get there first, then you've got more puck possession time.

“It certainly gives our team a different appearance and makes us tougher to play against.”

Head coach Mike Sullivan added: “Each and every year we play, it seems to get faster and faster . . .There's an emphasis on speed in all its forms, whether it be foot speed, team speed, line speed. Speed to me is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

We here in this corner agree.

So too do Eastern Conference clubs like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Leafs and, yes, the Ottawa Senators.

The simple truth is, you can't skate, you can't win.

Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion's latest move - acquiring Matt Duchene from Colorado - further addresses that philosophy.

Duchene is one of the NHL's purest blade runners. The guy can flat-out wheel.

This bodes well for Ottawa, after coming home from back-to-back wins in Stockholm over Duchene's former team. The Senators now own a hefty arsenal of frequent flyers. From Duchene to Erik Karlsson to Ryan Dzingel to Mike Hoffman to J-G Pageau . . . well, you get the idea.

If the current 'cool' in the NHL is skating, Ottawa is sitting pretty chill.

Mind you, as pointed out above, the rest of the league isn't plodding along not paying attention. Toronto and Tampa are incredibly fast, but the biggest shocker could be the New Jersey.

The Devils carved a reputation out for being a trap team that could bore you to tears . . . For years and years and years.

Well, it's a new era and New Jersey has morphed into - perhaps - the quickest team in the NHL.

Clearly winning inspires imitation.

NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS:  The Leafs won three straight without uber-star Auston Matthews which underlines the team's depth up front, especially the sudden emergence of fellow forward Mitch Marner. Marner didn't pout when he was dumped to the fourth line a few weeks back and has been pretty exceptional . . . Didn't see this coming: As of this writing, the New York Rangers are the league's hottest gang - scoring six straight wins. Leading the way? Former Senator Mika Zibanejad and his 18 points in 18 games . . . A tale of two cities this week. Ottawa and Pittsburgh resume their rivalry Thursday night in Ottawa. Both won't have difficulty getting up for the game after last season's dramatic seven-game Eastern Conference finale. Unfortunately the interest definitely dies down come Saturday afternoon when Arizona visits . . . If Ottawa could ever be primed for a 'trap' game, it's Saturday. Not only is it in the middle of the afternoon, it's, well, Arizona . . . Kyle Turris scored one and assisted on another in his debut with Nashville this past week. "It felt great," Turris said to NHL.com. "The crowd was awesome and it was a lot of fun being out there." (No one would ever accuse Kyle of being a quote machine. Ahem).

THE WEEK AHEAD:

Thursday, Nov. 16: Pittsburgh at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Saturday, Nov. 18: Arizona at Ottawa (2 pm)

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