Conacher finds quick chemistry on Ottawa's Kid Line

Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 3:23 PM
Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Chemistry between linemates can be a strange thing. Success can be found in the oddest of places.

One example is the Ottawa Senators' Kid Line -- rookies Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg and Cory Conacher. In three games together, the trio has combined for six points and been the Senators' most consistent despite the team's losing streak growing to six games.

The line was created last week when Conacher arrived in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and coach Paul MacLean was just hoping to find a comfortable spot for him to adjust to a new environment.

"We felt that would be a good fit for Conacher to come in and ease into our lineup," MacLean said. "We could play them against other team's third lines as opposed to their first or their best lines, their top two lines. We could play them against the bottom two lines and give him an opportunity to get comfortable with our team and how we play. That was the thought process to begin with."

What he created so far has developed into so much more.

"They've played well enough that we play them against anybody," MacLean said.

Having consistent linemates has been the best part of Conacher's experience so far in Ottawa.

"In Tampa … I played with a lot of different people, and here so far the coach has been able to get me comfortable with just two guys and that's huge for our chemistry," Conacher told NHL.com. "We know the next game that we're going to be playing together again, playing together throughout the game and it's not going to be switched around too much. That's huge. We play together 5-on-5 and on the power play. That builds chemistry a lot faster than it would if we were playing together here and there. It's important for all of our development."

Conacher said the trio has become close.

"Off the ice I've been able to bond with the two guys," he said. "If you have that off the ice, it comes and it shows on the ice, as well. So far it's been good for us. We've been playing well together."

All three players said they were surprised at how quickly they've jelled as a unit. While Zibanejad and Silfverberg had been occasional linemates this season, all they really knew of each other was from playing for rival American Hockey League teams.

"It was a bit of a pain in the butt [playing against them]," Conacher said. "They're good players."

Silfverberg told NHL.com of Conacher, "He's a small guy (5-foot-8, 179 pounds), but he's very tough to get to. He squeezes by you easily. You think you have him but you clearly don't. He always finds a way to get around you. He's a really skilled guy with the puck. He's tough out there."

All three players have been making it hard on the opposition since coming together.

"They’ve played well for us," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "All three are pretty quick, they're all strong on the puck and can make plays. It's a line that's moved the puck around well, creates chances off the cycles, finding openings for people. It's been a good energy line for us and a line that's been providing offensively. … Silfverberg and Zibanejad were playing pretty good before. Conacher came and he's been a nice addition to that line. He brings skill and speed that we need."

Zibanejad told NHL.com constant communication has been a big part of the line's success. While he and Silfverberg have been known to slip into Swedish while on the ice (Zibanejad was born in Finland but developed his skills in Sweden), he isn't sure if their Canadian-born, NCAA-educated linemate is prepared to learn a new language.

"I don't know if he's ready for it," Zibanejad said with a laugh.

Conacher said he's already picked up a few words and likely will learn more if the trio continues to produce and stay together.

"Hopefully we can build off that chemistry we've had so far and continue to develop as young players and get better," Conacher said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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