For a brief, shining moment, the Ottawa Senators made everyone believe in miracles. The team outplayed the St. Louis Blues--just four points out of their division lead, and five out of the President's Trophy--and came away with a win. Combined with some other teams encountering losing streaks of their own, there was hope. Then they lost their next three games, salvaging a point against the Phoenix Coyotes in a game they should have won in regulation. The Sens were done no favors by the officiating in losses to the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers, but aren't currently confident enough to overcome bad luck. The good news is the team can make believers out of us again this week with some more wins--they play the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.
Biggest gains: Cody Ceci
Originally up on emergency recall, Ceci has simply played too well to be removed from the lineup. And his first NHL goal was kind of important. More importantly, he doesn't look out of place in the NHL. Ceci is providing the kind of play the team has been looking for from both Patrick Wericioch and Joe Corvo. That's significant, because it's allowed head coach Paul MacLean to pair Jared Cowen with Erik Karlsson, where he has looked much better, and deploy Marc Methot in a more universal role. Both of those moves have resulted in improved performance from Cowen and Methot. Whether Ceci can keep it up is anyone's guess--small sample size looms large--but while he does, it represents the team's best shot at defensive stability.
Biggest losses: Joe Corvo
Last week, Corvo was playing like Ceci was playing this week. Unfortunately, it didn't last, as Corvo suffered a series of misfortunes (some his fault, some not) that have led to too many scoring opportunities. That's just not cool, and it led to him getting scratched. That's fine, because it allows the Senators to deploy a third pairing of Chris Phillips and Eric Gryba, And there's nothing wrong with those guys getting some defensive minutes. Frankly, if a top-four of Karlsson, Cowen, Methot, and Ceci keep playing the way they have been, there's no real reason for Corvo to play another game this season. The potential downside should Corvo not have a good game just isn't worth it.
|Craig Anderson||Played well enough to beat the Panthers. Didn't. Played well enough to beat the Coyotes. Didn't.|
|Robin Lehner||The Lehner got a chance to seize the starting job with a solid win over the St. Louis Blues, but couldn't string success together. letting in five goals against New Jersey.|
|Cody Ceci||See "Biggest gains."|
|Joe Corvo||See "Biggest losses."|
|Jared Cowen||Since pairing with Karlsson, his play has improved. Not surprising, because it lets him simplify his game: Hit guy, pass to Karlsson. Passing to Karlsson is always the right play.|
|Eric Gryba||Replaced Corvo, which we obviously support, and picked up an assist by finding Z. Smith coming out of the box. That's good enough.|
|Erik Karlsson||Four assists this week, and some serious commitment across the ice--including five hits against Phoenix!|
|Marc Methot||What a return from the flu. Methot almost single-handedly beat the Coyotes.|
|Chris Phillips||The more we watch, the more we don't believe Phillips should be playing top-4 minutes.|
|Patrick Wiercioch||Cody Ceci is making him expendable.|
|Cory Conacher||Back on a cold streak.|
|Erik Condra||At his best when you don't notice him.|
|Colin Greening||Notched a goal this week and played a generally tenacious game with his linemates.|
|Matt Kassian||We don't enjoy bashing Kassian, but when we're excited just to see him get a shot through to the net, that's not a positive reflection.|
|Clarke MacArthur||Rare down arrow for MacArthur. Too much time in the box (18 PIMs!) versus production (just 1 assist) for Ottawa's most consistent forward. Perhaps he's feeling frustrated?|
|Milan Michalek||Is it just us, or did he play with much more aggression this week?|
|Chris Neil||Scored a goal and was a general nusiance this week.|
|Jean-Gabriel Pageau||Watching what he did in a few seconds together with Bobby Ryan should be reason enough to never play him with Kassian again.|
|Bobby Ryan||Another multi-point game for the sniper. We like that he's able to create offense with passing as well as shooting.|
|Z. Smith||We're not thrilled that he scored a goal coming out of the box, because he should try to stay out of the box to begin with.|
|Jason Spezza||Having now overtaken Kyle Turris for third among team scoring, we love that a disgusted Spezza immediately dismissed a great individual scoring play in a losing effort as "[not] worth shit." It's en vogue to question his leadership, but we think Spezza knows there's more to winning than his own performace.|
|Kyle Turris||Another goal and another assist. Offense is not Ottawa's problem.|
|Mika Zibanejad||Was playing well before suffering an upper-body injury.|
Special thanks to our friend winterion at Japer's Rink for our icons!