Callahan fitting right in with Lightning

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
2:27
PM ET
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper says former Rangers captain Ryan Callahan has fit in just perfectly with his new team.

"He's been seamless," Cooper said of the gritty Callahan's entry into the Lightning lineup. "With our team, it's probably a little bit of an element we were missing. Unfortunately we had to give up our leading scorer [Martin St. Louis] to get him. But he's just brought a different dynamic to our team."

Callahan has been playing on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Ondrej Palat.

"That line has been dynamic at both ends of the ice for us," Cooper said. "That kid [Callahan] knows how to play the game below the dots. We haven't had a ton of those guys wheel through our organization. It's a great fit for us. He's probably a little tired because I'm playing him a bit more here than he was in New York."

What has Callahan's leadership impact been on his new teammates?

"Just watch our bench when he hits somebody, or takes the puck from somebody, or battles in front of the net, guys are just pumped for him," Cooper said. "He doesn't have to come back to the bench and say anything. You just know right then what he's delivering to our team. It's great to see. He doesn't hear that because he's in the corner battling with [Zdeno] Chara, so he doesn't hear what's going on [on the bench], but you love that from your team and teammates when you hear that stuff."

Hartley should get a shot
Bob Hartley has won over many admirers with his work behind the Calgary Flames' bench this season, molding the rebuilding club into a hard-working, never-say-die outfit while working on the development of many youngsters.

I suspect he's earned himself a shot at coaching at least next season with the Flames.

Of course, they have yet to fill their general manager vacancy, so there's that to consider, given that every GM likes to pick his own coach. But I think once the GM interview process gets more serious in Calgary, president of hockey operations Brian Burke is going to strongly hint that Hartley should be given the opportunity to at least coach next season. It likely would be very similar to the GM interview process in Buffalo, where it was strongly suggested that Ted Nolan stay on as coach.

Hartley, by the way, has one more year on his current deal.

Double-ouchy for Ottawa
As the sobering reality of likely missing the playoffs sinks in for the Ottawa Senators, so does this: Their first-round pick belongs to the Anaheim Ducks.

That now will be a draft lottery pick unless the Senators mount a sensational, late-season comeback to get into the playoff race (Ottawa began Thursday seven points out).

That first-round pick is courtesy of the Bobby Ryan deal struck July 5, with the Senators also sending Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen to Anaheim in the trade.

I don't think it's fair to be playing armchair quarterback here -- I still would have made this deal if I were the Senators, having lost longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson to free agency earlier in the day and having the chance to add a proven commodity in Ryan to a team many believed was on the rise and had just made the playoffs two years in a row. You figure the team was at least playoff-bound again this season, right?

Heck, I'm on record saying I believed the Senators would challenge Boston for the Atlantic Division lead. Oops. Boy, was I wrong.

Now the Senators are staring at the possibility of a lottery pick landing in the Ducks' lap unless they can pull off the mini-miracle the next three-plus weeks.

But it also once again underlines the work of Ducks GM Bob Murray, who increasingly in the past few years has yielded unsolicited praise to me in conversations with his GM colleagues, all of whom continually point to his work in reshaping that franchise in the past half-decade into a team that not only is contending now, but has a bright future.

All without having to sit at the bottom of the standings -- and get the resulting high draft picks -- for a prolonged period of time along the way.

Jensen a bright light for Canucks
Travis Green stayed up late Wednesday night to watch his season-long project score again, Nicklas Jensen getting his third goal in his seventh NHL game since being called up earlier this month by the Vancouver Canucks.

"He's doing pretty good, I'm pretty proud of him. I'm really happy to see how he's playing," Green, Vancouver's AHL coach in Utica, said to ESPN.com Thursday.

In a season from hell for the Canucks, Jensen has been a much-needed bright light of late, putting up five points and playing on the top line, no less.

Much of the credit goes to Green, who has worked hard with Jensen in Utica to groom Vancouver's first pick (29th overall) from the 2011 draft.

"We challenged him. That's what makes it even better seeing him having success now," said Green, a hint of pride in his voice.

Anyone who saw Jensen play in September in rookie camp in Penticton, British Columbia, probably would not have believed that what's happening could be possible.

"He was a long ways away then," said Green, a longtime former NHL center. "Then he got hurt at the start of the year, which set him back for a while."

Jensen had a real tough start to the AHL season. Nothing was going right. But the Denmark native stuck with it, and Green stuck with Jensen.

"Jens loves the game of hockey, he wants to be a pro real bad," Green said. "Those guys are sponges, they take everything in, and they're not afraid to work. I've seen a lot of improvement in his game from when I first saw him at the beginning of the year."

It meant a lot of work on and off the ice.

"A lot of video, yes," Green said. "We cut his shifts a lot. There's so many little details in a young man's game, to try to get to the next level."

One focus early in the season was for Jensen to get stronger and faster.

"We put him on a fairly hard workout program here, which was harder than the other guys'," Green said.

The coach knew there would be days when Jensen might be real tired because of it, but it was worth it long term.

"We thought it would pay off after Christmas, and it did," Green said.

In the meantime, more video, almost every day, breaking down every game.

"His pace started to get higher and he started to go to the harder areas," Green said. "It's a grind to find scoring chances; you have to be willing to get your nose dirty. He's a natural goal scorer. It started to click for him, he got stronger on the walls, especially in his own end, he started to gain our trust and we played him more late in games."

Jensen had a stretch last month when he had eight goals in 13 AHL games, which led to his eventual call-up.

Neat story.

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