Win streak lessens No. 1 draft pick chances for Ottawa Senators

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While some of the NHL’s have-nots are sinking closer to a better opportunity to land the first choice in the NHL entry draft, the Ottawa Senators are heading in the opposite direction.

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And, it’s not a bad thing.

With a well-earned five-game winning streak under their belts, the Senators are in 26th place overall in the NHL standings (there are now six teams below them) and just three points behind and closing on both Seattle and Calgary.

The big prize in this year’s NHL draft will be Macklin Celebrini, the U.S. college hockey sensation. If the Senators were to maintain their current standing, they would have a 6.5 per cent chance of winning the NHL draft lottery. The probability increases the lower a team gets, all the way to last place, which gives that team a 25.5 per cent chance of getting the top choice.

The Senators aren’t thinking about tanking or the draft lottery; they’re getting the sort of results their legion of fans expected long ago in a season that began with hope.

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Jacques Martin is getting more of the consistency he has been looking for since taking over from D.J. Smith as the team’s head coach in mid-December.

“We’ve cut down the number of goals against; that’s really important,” Martin told TSN 1200’s Gord Wilson on Monday. “We do a better job in our defensive zone. We’re getting production from different people. Look at the game against Winnipeg, we got a goal from the fourth line and a goal from the third line.”

The Senators go into a Tuesday game in Minnesota red hot with wins of 5-2 over New Jersey, 5-3 over Edmonton, 6-2 over Buffalo, 2-0 over Chicago and 3-2 Saturday in Winnipeg during a span of just eight days.

The team had an off-day Sunday, then got back at it during a practice Monday.

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“It was a good opportunity to clean up a couple of things and make sure we’re ready to play (Tuesday),” said Martin.

Goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who has won his last four games (and six of his past seven) will start against the WIld, which has been looking to work its way into one of the two Western Conference wild-card spots. It doesn’t look good, with Minnesota eight points behind Los Angeles for the second wild-card spot and also needing to jump past the St. Louis Blues to get there.

“Minnesota has two pretty good lines,” said Martin. “It’s a team that’s still battling, hoping to get into the playoffs. The key for us is to continue with the same kind of intensity and determination and have the same start to a game.”

It’s another busy week for the Senators, who have three additional games: Home Thursday against the Florida Panthers, then Saturday to the New Jersey Devils and a Sunday road game in Washington.

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Tyler Kleven grew up in North Dakota, within driving distance of NHL games in Winnipeg and Minnesota. So, it was a big thrill for him to play Saturday in Winnipeg, then Tuesday in Minnesota (where he figures he may have 20 friends and family there to watch).

“It was great to get a win close to home, mom and dad were there,” he said following Monday’s practice. “I grew up watching the Jets. it was good to go in there, play and get a win. And, it doesn’t get much closer to home than this (in Minnesota). I watched the Wild, I’ve been to so many games.”

Since he was called up late last week, Kleven has been paired with Erik Brannstrom. So far, the pair has been solid.

Said Kleven: “I play super simple and hard. Branny is a smaller defenceman, he plays fast and more offensive. My defensive game and his offensive game work well together.”

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“They played pretty good together,” said Martin. “Erik has a lot of quickness, not size. A lot of times, he can skate the puck out of trouble and also join the rush.

“I like what (Kleven) brings. He’s got good size. I like his hockey IQ, he reads the play well. When he goes back for the puck, he looks and sees what’s available before he gets there. He’s shown some good deceptiveness with the puck. He’s got a good stick, a long reach and he brings a physicality to our back end that we need.”


It was announced Monday that Wild forward Ryan Hartman has been suspended for three games, without pay, for unsportsmanlike conduct during a game Saturday. A repeat offender, Hartman was assessed a 10-minute misconduct for throwing his stick toward the officials during overtime … The last time the Senators played the Wild (in mid-November in Sweden), Ottawa won 2-1 in a shootout … The Senators have a record of 13-20-2 on the road this season.

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