SportsSens' Winning Ways Something to Ponder

Sens' Winning Ways Something to Ponder

Sens' Winning Ways Something to Ponder

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 Images (Andre Ringuette)

Hey buddy, you're going the wrong way . . .

Sort of.

You can excuse the Ottawa Senators if they're playing hockey like they're attempting to traverse that middle lane on the Champlain Bridge. You know, the lane that switches the green light from heading north-to-south, to south-to-north in the blink of an eye.

That's kind of what Ottawa is going through right now.

The team is winning, but is that necessarily the right direction?

Since the beginning of February, the Senators are a slick 6-4 and have put some distance between themselves and last place.

Time was - just a few weeks ago, in fact - Ottawa was careening down the stairs towards the Eastern Conference basement. Only Buffalo was blocking the Senators' path.

If they'd 'caught' the Sabres, only Arizona was standing in the way of Ottawa grabbing a hold on last place league-wide.

If the recent outburst of success continues - last place, second-to-last and seemingly third-to-last could end up looking like a pipe dream.

So the likelihood of a lottery win to snatch golden boy defenceman Rasmus Dahlin in the 2018 NHL draft is approaching the probability of 'not likely.' The Frolunda HC blueliner is considered a sure-fire first overall selection.

A one scout recently told Sportsnet: “I don’t ever think that anyone has locked up the No.1 (draft) slot in December. Only when the season is over and you’re listing the players am I comfortable saying who’s No. 1. Right now, though, he’s at the head of the pack. He’s the best defence prospect really since Victor Hedman but he has so much more to offer (than the Tampa Bay defenceman) with his mobility and puck skills.”

Barring a plague of locusts and the parting of the seas, the Coyotes look like the odds-on favourites to land the uber-talent.

Czech Republic forward Filip Zadina, the consensus No. 2 on the draft board, is also a stud. At the most recent world junior tourney, Zadina had seven goals in seven games. He also added a pair of goals in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

He'd be a pretty darn good consolation prize, but one the Senators might not catch a glimpse of if they keep winning.

On a positive note, this latest string of successes is good news for the players wearing the Ottawa jersey.

Especially the young ones.

No one wants to groom their best prospects in a losing environment.

As much as the winning hurts the future (drafting position) it also helps the future (prospects/young players).

While defenceman Thomas Chabot is chewing up minutes and gaining experience, he's now doing so in something of a winning atmosphere. (The 21-year-old collected a goal and an assist in Saturday's win over the New York Rangers and had a couple of doozey chances against Nashville Monday).

Same goes for fellow blueliner Ben Harpur and - eventually - forward Colin White whose currently skating with AHL Belleville but has 15 games with Ottawa this season under his belt.

Filip Chlapik and Christian Jaros are also on the way.

Should the Senators embrace their recent prosperity?

Guess it depends on your perspective.

NEWS, NOTES AND NOTIONS:  That second period Monday night in Nashville might very well have been the most entertaining segment in a game Ottawa's been a part of all season. Pace, creativity and physicality - intoxicating . . . Remember when plenty were writing off the defending Stanley Cup champs during the early stages of the season? Well, since Jan. 1, the Pittsburgh Penguins are 16-4-1. Um, welcome back . . . Gerard Gallant (Vegas) is pretty well golden as the NHL's coach of the year. No argument here. But don't overlook the fine job former Ottawa 67 Bruce Cassidy has done in Boston, mixing in young talent with veteran. 'Butch' has Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand playing the best hockey of their careers. The B's are a legitimate Cup threat . . . The LA Kings snapped a 15-year winless streak in Buffalo with a 4-2 win over the Sabres on Saturday . . . The sad-sack Sabres were ripped in the Buffalo News by columnist  Mike Harrington the next day, essentially accusing '10-12' of the team's skaters of mailing it in. Former Senator Robin Lehner disputed it: "If you fight your whole life to get to this level, you'll get to see it," Lehner said to a collection of reporters. "But you guys do not." . . . Hard to find a hotter line than Toronto's Mitch Marner-Nazem Kadri-Patrick Marleau unit. Since being put together on Jan. 24, the trio has combined for 37 points. Marner, in particular, has been top-drawer .


Wednesday, Feb. 21: Ottawa at Chicago (8 pm)

Thursday, Feb. 22: Tampa Bay at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Saturday, Feb. 24 Philadelphia at Ottawa (2 pm)

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