New Senators coach Guy Boucher intends to reduce players’ shift times this season, writes Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun. Last season, the two Stanley Cup finalists (San Jose and champion Penguins) had an average shift length of 41 seconds which didn’t go unnoticed by Boucher:
“It’s a pace game now. Can you sustain it, can you maintain it. The only way to maintain it is with energy. “Who won the Stanley Cup? The team that had the most pace. Period. That’s where we need to go.”
The trend towards short shifts was also present at the World Cup of Hockey, particularly with Team Canada who routinely had their players take shifts under 40 seconds (sometimes even under 30).
Ottawa had 23 players with an average shift length higher than 41 seconds last season, including defenseman Erik Karlsson, who led the league with an average shift of 1:04, eight seconds higher than any other player. While Karlsson has led all NHL blueliners in scoring in each of the last three seasons, the restrictions will apply to him, although Boucher noted that the 26 year old should still play the full two minutes on the power play (which will inevitably bring his shift average well about the league average once again this year).
Boucher hopes that keeping his players fresh will have some benefits on the defensive end as well:
“Usually problems happen in the extended part of your shift. That’s where you get tired, that’s where you get turnovers. That’s what we don’t want to get into.”
Other news from the Atlantic:
- Jonathan Marchessault’s decision to leave Tampa Bay for state rival Florida came down to playing time, he told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. Marchessault spent parts of the last two years with the Lightning but was in and out of the lineup frequently and was often scratched to allow the team to dress a seventh defenseman. With the Panthers, Marchessault is eyeing a spot on the third line as the team looks to bring more skill into their bottom six. He signed a two year, $1.5MM deal in Florida at the beginning of free agency.
- Montreal Canadiens prospect Martin Reway may not be able to play at all this season, reports Louis-Andre Lariviere of TVA Sports (link in French) who spoke with one of the 21 year old’s agents. Reway was hospitalized last month with a virus and at that time, it was announced that he wouldn’t be participating in training camp. The team would not comment on the report, only noting that there is no new information at this time.
- Senators right winger Mark Stone skated on Friday for the first time since he suffered a concussion last week, notes the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren. He still hasn’t been green lit to receive contact nor has he passed the baseline test but he’s hopeful that he will be able to get into a preseason game next week.