(Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week.)
The week started off well for the Senators, as they beat the New York Islanders 5-2, and finally won against the Boston Bruins, 1-0. The rest of the week? Not so good, with a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks and a 4-2 implosion against the Florida Panthers--a game where the team surrendered four unanswered goals to blow a two-goal lead. Not exactly a great showing.
They still have a decent foothold on a playoff position, though, so it's not panic time just yet. Still, the upcoming schedule gives the Senators no gifts. If they want to keep that foothold in tact, they're going to need to find two things: consistency in their play, and offense from someone besides Spezza or Karlsson.
Biggest gains: Robin Lehner
Help us, Robi-Wan Lehnobi. You're our only hope. Lehner got his chance to after Alex Auld blew his, and unlike Auld, Lehner seized in and ran with it, putting together three solid performances--including recording his first career shutout over the defending Stanley Cup champions. That's not too shabby. Lehner showed he was human in the loss to Florida, but players become great by rising to great challenges, and that's an ability Lehner flashed for the second time in two years. He's the future.
Biggest losses: Zack Smith
Though Z. Smith recorded six hits in the win over the Islanders, there was something he didn't record: a point. Z. Smith has been ineffectual for a while now, with his last point (a goal) coming against the Islanders on February 3rd. He certainly brings other skills to the table, but simply being a good penalty killer and not giving a crap aren't good enough to center a third line in the NHL. Things came to a head on Sunday, when he was scratched to make room for Rob Klinkhammer.
(read on for the full run-down...)
ok, i believe you
|His cut is still healing, but that's okay--at least we won't have to put up with more "Anderson is overworked" hysterics.|
|There's a very real chance he won't start another game for Ottawa this year.|
|See "Biggest gains."|
|Unfortunately, the Senators just don't have the luxury of letting him find his game when wins are so crucial.|
|Cowen rising? If his game is on the upswing as it appears to be, he picked a good time of year to do it.|
|We're not doubting his offensive skills, but we don't feel like he's fitting in just yet. No reason to think he can't adapt, though.|
|No points from Gonchar this week. We know he's Ottawa's second-highest scoring defenseman, but it doesn't feel that way when he's on the ice, does it?|
|Played two great games early in the week, and two ineffectual games late in the week. If teams are starting to figure out how to neutralize Karlsson, Ottawa could be in real trouble.|
|Made it through this trade deadline without getting a no-trade clause, so that's a win in our books.|
|We think Phillips laid out and took a puck to the body in every game played this week. He clearly has a vested interest in keeping Lehner in net, because he didn't do it for Auld.|
|No points this week, though he did have a perfectly-timed screen to help Karlsson score the game-winner against Boston.|
|Butler's recent tear on the top line has come to an abrupt and displeasing halt.|
|Good thing he's not a lumberjack.|
|Has anyone missed him while he's been scratched?|
|With three assists in four games, Foligno has been one of the few guys not named Spezza or Karlsson to create offense.|
|Suddenly doesn't fit anywhere.|
|A decent, if unspectacular debut.|
|Got back into the lineup, but hasn't really made any impact.|
|Three points (2G, 1A) in four games... Michalek continues to bring it.|
|Neil also had two goals and an assist. He was strong in every game this week.|
|A goal and an assist this week, and he took Z. Smith's third line position.|
|See "Biggest losses."|
|Spezza's point streak finally came to an end against Florida, but he was strong all week, putting up one goal and two assists in those other games.|
|A two-point game against New York and a strong showing against Florida with another assist. Has Turris regained his confidence?|