• By: Dave Gross

Getting enough Z’s, culture changes, Sandman enters and couch-surfing

A few musings and ponderings as we move less than a couple of dimes from the National Hockey League playoffs.

Zub entering Pecos Bill territory

Ottawa’s own folk hero?

Artem Zub seems to be the unassuming and quiet type; comfortable in getting the job done and calling it a day. Yet the love for the second-year NHLer is brash and loud.

His vocal fan base grows exponentially with each passing game. Must have something to do with the notion he’s been Ottawa’s most stable blueliner since the day he became a regular. ‘Stable blueliner’ is generally an unknown in the nation’s capital but the native of Khabarovsk has it in spades.

Careful with that culture

Saturday night’s loss by Ottawa against a high-octane Florida team wasn’t so very troubling except for this – it was another in a long, long season of defeats.

As one former NHL scout and player put it to me, losing can become part of the culture. And with such youngish minds in the mix, you certainly can’t afford to go through another year of collapse and setbacks.

The Senators have plenty of work to do this upcoming off-season.

The organization needs to turn the corner in a big way but turning the trick in such a competitive circuit is going to require smarter veteran signings than the ones we’ve witnessed recently.

Reign it in, folks

I hope you do. Give the kid some time to grow.

Yes, Jake Sanderson is signed and delivered. But let’s keep in mind that the top prospect doesn’t turn 20 until July.

Is he bound to be a good one? All fingers point in that direction.

Sanderson’s US college game is/was outstanding. The switch to the NHL is a large one. While he reportedly owns the mental and physical aptitude to make that switch a successful one, give him space and some time to find his pro game.

Couch potato heaven

I, for one, can’t wait . . . and I don’t believe I’m the only one.

Man oh man there are going to be a number of heavily disappointed teams once the first round of the playoffs wrap up. Who won’t be disappointed? Fans of the game.

The season is going to end faster than a Will Smith right hook for some of the top squads in the league. That’s because, well, there are a substantial number of superb organizations with a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup.

Let’s roll through the list. Colorado, Calgary, Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, New York (Rangers) and now Minnesota. There’s your top tier, people. Would anyone be taken by surprise if any one of the seven captured the league title?

And while that’s your top tier, if the puzzle pieces come together for the second tier comprised of Boston, Toronto, St. Louis, Edmonton, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Dallas and Vegas . . . who knows?

The one thing you can bet on, though, is that the first round of the post-season is bound to be wildly entertaining.

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Who would have called this one – Ottawa and Florida have a real hate-on for each other . . . Which made Saturday night’s clash superb. As the late great Ed Whalen would hail it: ‘A ring-a-ding-dong dandy!” . . . Beacon to the 1980s? That Calgary-Edmonton ping pong game Saturday night. Final tally: 14 goals. Zoinks . . . Tweet of the weekend goes to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector after watching the Flames guzzle Edmonton 9-5: “Nine even strength goals for Calgary.

A really fun game, but honestly, Edmonton got murdered here. This was a crime scene.” . . . I watch the Leafs’ speedster Pierre Engvall and think, this guy should score 30 goals. Something’s just missing there . . . Colin Blackwell? Great pick up for Toronto. Hits everything . . . Those writing off Montreal’s Nick Suzuki can go stand in a corner. Kid’s a good one and is going to get better . . . Whatever “It” is, Cole Caufield’s got “It” . . . Good opportunity this week to see two of the front-runners for rookie of the year in Red Wings Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider. Nice pickin’ there Stevie Y . . . How good would the troop of youngsters be in L.A. if the club had grabbed Seider at No. 5 in the 2019 draft instead of Alex Turcotte? (Seider went next, sixth overall).


Tuesday, March 29: Ottawa at Nashville (8 pm)

Friday, April 1: Ottawa at Detroit (7:30 pm)

Sunday, April 3: Detroit at Ottawa (1 pm)