Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Senators for the past week.
This week saw Ottawa's six-game winning streak snapped, as the Senators went 0-2-1, stringing together losses to Boston and Montreal before falling to Buffalo in an extended shootout. Some truths about this young team were confirmed in these games. Namely:
- The second line can be outmuscled.
- A heavy forecheck ruins our breakout scheme.
- An opponent that focuses on creating neutral zone turnovers can stymie our young players.
These probably shouldn't surprise us too much. Ottawa is only a handful of games into the season, and there is lots of learning left to do. What matters is that we see improvement.
Biggest Gains: Kaspars Daugavins
We're not saying that The Rooster is going to replace Daniel Alfredsson of all people, but that's who he was called up to replace--and he has done as admirable of a job as anyone could ask in that role. Obviously not the offensive player that Alfie is, Daugavins makes up for his shortcomings with pure, unrestrained effort. We have not seen him take a shift off yet, and apparently head coach Paul MacLean hasn't either, as Daugavins is getting plenty of penalty killing minutes, and has even played in some high stakes situations. Players looking for more ice time might want to consider matching his intensity level--if they can.
We're loathe to name Spezza here because it opens the door for the absurd "Spezza only produces when the pressure is off" comments, but the reality is that he was held pointless this week, and the team went 0-2-1 during the same span. That's not a coincidence. It's not as bad as it sounds, of course. Spezza was very creative against the Sabres, but couldn't generate a goal in regulation (but did score in the shootout) for the team. Unfortunately for Spezza, on this young team, "very creative" just isn't good enough. He needs to be better.
(read on for the full breakdown....)
Seems like his play is inversely proportional to his win-loss record these days.
Robin Lehner returned to Binghamton, so presumably Auld is healthy again.
Different week, same story. Cowen belongs on the blue line. I bet I can leave this line here all year.
Like Spezza, Gonchar went pointless on the week. And he wasn't brought on board to play shut down defense.
Averaged five shots on goal a game this week, so it's not like he's not trying.
Assisted on Z. Smith's shorthanded goal against Montreal. Hasn't had a terrible game yet.
Lee got his chance to play and struggled. He rebounded well against Buffalo, which cancels out in our book.
Phillips had a strong week, notching an assist against Buffalo, and only going minus-one despite being on the defensive side of three losses.
Doesn't deserve to sit anymore than Brian Lee does.
GET WELL SOON, ALFIE!
Will the Bobby Butler of 2010-11 please report to the Ottawa Senators?
Good week for Anacondra: Set up Z. Smith shorthanded and then scored the next game on a breakaway thanks to a Z. Smith setup. Also frequently involved in 2-on-1 rushes with Z. Smith. May have some chemistry with Z. Smith.
Stephane Da Costa
We can't help but feel that he should be in the AHL, learning to play under head coach Kurt Kleinendorst, who has done well with players like Daugavins, Condra, and Greening.
See "Biggest Gains"
We're not Foligno fans, but his intensity and physicality in all of Ottawa's games this week was undeniable. This is what we mean when we say consistency. If he keeps it up, the points will come, like they did in his three-point (1G, 2A) game against Boston.
Tough week for Soylent. His job is to create space for Spezza and Michalek. They did not have much space this week.
We were not fans of his decision to fight in Boston when Ottawa had all the momentum. He was scratched for the next two games.
The best player on the top line this week, Michalek created his own space, scoring a sick goal against Buffalo.
Had two assists against Boston, but also three stupid penalties. His emotions are what make him a valuable asset for the team; they also keep him from being a regular contributor on it.
Out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
Strong week for Z. Smith, with a shorthanded goal and an assist. Limited stupid penalties give us the window for the green arrow.
See "Biggest losses."
Adds a dimension that Konopka doesn't, strangely enough.Winch is hard to appreciate in the sense that you don't know what you miss with him until you see him in a game.