Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators over the past week.
The Ottawa Senators started the new year off right. Looking at the schedule, we all knew January was going to be a tough month with a first week that might have been the toughest stretch, but the Sens went on to put up a 3-0-1 record and earn seven of eight possible points against some tough competition in the New Jersey Devils (a 3-2 overtime win), the Tampa Bay Lightning (a 4-1 win), and the Philadelphia Flyers (a 3-2 overtime loss and a 6-4 win).
With that terrific week in the books, Ottawa's gone 7-1-2 in the last ten games, and as of Sunday night sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, well in playoff position--but with nine of the next ten games on the road. And it looks like many Senators won't even get the All-Star Break off, as they'll be playing in the game.
Biggest gains: Erik Karlsson
Karlsson had three two-point games in the week for six points in four games (1G, 5A), and was too much for the Flyers to handle in the two games against them. It's incredible to think that a 21-year-old defenceman is the lynch-pin of the Ottawa Senators offence, but Karlsson is. He has 41P in 43GP this season, tied for 14th in the NHL in overall scoring, tops among NHL defencemen, and a point off the team lead in scoring.
Biggest losses: Chris Phillips
Phillips' role on this team is declining as the Big Three--Karlsson, Filip Kuba, and Sergei Gonchar--really step up their game. Even Jared Cowen is regularly playing 5-10 minutes more than Phillips per game. The Sens' assistant captain looked slow and immotile against the Flyers in particular, especially the speedy Danny Briere. He was -3 in the games he played, and was on the ice for five of the nine goals against in those three games despite playing fairly minimal ice time.
|Did not see a minute of ice time in the week, and for good reason considering his statistics. Still, with a long road trip on the horizon, Auld will see some action, and will get an opportunity to get his groove back.|
|As Anderson went in the week, so went the Senators. He was solid in all four games, but was especially good against Tampa Bay. He's on a roll.|
|Carkner was -3 in the week, and he isn't even the go-to guy on the penalty kill anymore. He had an uncontested victory in his only fight of the week against Adam Hall, but at this point it looks like Brian Lee will draw into the lineup in Carkner's place if he can't turn his game around.|
|Cowen was solid in the first two games, but had a hard time against the Flyers on the weekend. He's still getting over 22 minutes a night, and has supplanted Chris Phillips on the top penalty-killing unit.|
|Gonchar played just three of the four games in the week, and had two assists in them. He finished the week +1 overall, and is seeing a good amount of short-handed ice time|
|See "Biggest gains."|
|Kuba was almost the biggest gainer, but Karlsson's offensive week was too much to ignore. Kuba has stepped up as the top all-situations defender on Ottawa, and led the team in ice time three of the four games. He had a goal and two assists in the four games, was +6 on the week, and has taken a complete 180-degree turn since last season.|
|Lee played in the first two games of the week, was barely noticeable, and was an easy scratch in the final two. He may get into the lineup soon, though.|
|See "Biggest losses."|
|SIX POINTS. Three games, three goals, three assists, and one incredible 39-year-old hockey player. His second line led the way offensively in the week, and represents the first time Ottawa's had two legitimate scoring lines in... well... I'm not sure, but a long time.|
|Butler's keepin' it real on the fourth line, but at some point he's going to get his shot in the top six. He had a sick goal this week, nine shots, and is doing what he needs to do.|
|Condra seems to be the defensive presence on the second line, making sure Alfredsson and Kyle Turris have the freedom, space, and time to do what they have to do to generate offence. Some of that's splashing back on Condra, too, and he had a goal and two assists in the week.|
|Rooster's role is diminishing these days, and he's playing much less overall (he only played 4:46 against the Devils) and less on the penalty kill. It may be due more to others playing well than Daugavins playing poorly, but there's no denying that he's playing much less these days.|
|Since being bumped out of the top six, Foligno's ice time has fallen off, but he's still putting up points--he had three points (2G, 1A) in the week. He's a valuable part of the very dangerous two-way force that is the Senators' third line.|
|Greening had his first goal in ten games in the second matchup with the Flyers, one of his two points in the week. He also fired 11 shots on goal in the week, and is the big physical presence on the team's top line--that is, when he's on it, and Paul MacLean regularly rotates him down the lineup mid-game.|
|No points in the week for Konopka in the week, but he certainly wasn't a liability. He also had a convincing victory over Zac Rinaldo in the week's final game, which may have energized his teammates.|
|Michalek scored a point in each of the last two games in the week, so he seems to be coming around after struggling upon his return from a concussion. Still, his two points (1G, 1A) in the week would be a lot more concerning to people if not for the emergence of the second line. He's still shooting, though (13 shots in the week), so the goals and points will come.|
|Neil started the week with a big win in a fight against Eric Boulton, was really quiet after that until notching two points in Ottawa's win over the Flyers. He's providing some steady supportive offence for the team.|
|He's almost certainly out the rest of the season with his shoulder injury.|
|Just one point for Z. Smith this week, his twelfth of the season. But even without the offence, he's still one of the team's top penalty killers, and he didn't even take a single penalty this week.|
|Four points in the week (2G, 2A) keep Spezza just under point-per-game pace. He's tied for tenth in league scoring with 42 points.|
|Turris scored his first goal as a Senator against the Lightning, and had two assists in the week, too. His gains with the team have been gradual but steady, and he's looked like a very good fit alongside Alfredsson on the second line.|
|Still dealing with his concussion.