Senators Ups and Downs: Week 5

Someday he'll grow into his helmet like he's grown into his role. - Abelimages

Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week.

It's rare that I'm at a loss for words, but I don't really know how to sum up this week. Things started off well, with a 2-0 shutout of the struggling Buffalo Sabres, and that was followed by a 2-2 tie through 40 minutes against a healthy Pittsburgh Penguins team. It looked like the team was finally starting to find their way without Jason Spezza, and even if they weren't going to be the goal-scoring powerhouse they were last season, they were still a team at least capable of hanging with the better clubs in the league.

Then Erik Karlsson got his Achilles tendon sliced.

The team has not scored a goal since. But that's okay. Spezza drove the offense among the forwards, and Karlsson drove it from the back end. Those aren't two pieces you simply adjust to losing overnight. The Senators are now forced to play their future stars in in NHL, rather than AHL, roles. There's a learning curve. We can't pretend there's not. And it might suck that it has to happen on the fly, but that's life. The team will find a stride--not the same one they had before--again, but it's going to take time.

Biggest gains: Stephane Da Costa

Last year, he started well, but faded fast. No real surprise there--most college kids aren't ready to play in the NHL, much less jump into a second-line role. Still, we were encouraged by his on-ice vision, and seemingly uncanny ability to pick the pockets of larger players from behind.

By themselves, those skills weren't enough to sustain him in the league, but he appears to have retained them while building on the other areas of his game, including both strength and faceoffs, as both areas have been noticeably better this year. Da Costa is getting an opportunity thanks to injuries, and he appears to be making the most of it, which is good, because regardless of who's healthy, the team still has to play games.

Biggest losses: Erik Karlsson

There's nothing to really say here. We all know the story.

Goalies Trend Notes
Craig Anderson Hey, there he is! Also... the last man standing.
Ben Bishop It's put up or shut up time this afternoon for him. Big opportunity against a good team.
Defensemen
Andre Benoit Benoit giveth, and Benoit taketh away. His season is summed up by the fact that he created a 3-on-1 rush, and then missed the net as the shooter on the same rush.
Sergei Gonchar Almost by default, he's our top defenseman now.
Eric Gryba
Tough to judge a guy based on one game.
Erik Karlsson See "Biggest losses." Try not to cry.
Mike Lundin Through five games, he's minus-1 with two hits, two PIMs, and nine shots on goal. He's about as average as they come. On this roster, that's not a bad thing.
Marc Methot His first game without Karlsson didn't suck, thank the hockey gods.
Chris Phillips With four shots on goal against Toronto, and another, like, 11 that didn't get to the net on the power play, it's obvious who the team envisions Karlsson's replacement as. I have apprehensions about this plan.
Patrick Wiercioch Keeps getting scratched. That may be frustrating, but remember that he's a rookie, and it's better to bring him along slowly than throw him to the wolves.
Forwards
Daniel Alfredsson The Alfie of old would hit the net instead of posts, but either way, Alfie's still beating goalies.
Erik Condra With a goal and an assist in three games this week, Condra has stepped up big time.
Kaspars Daugavins Now getting regular playing time. Still as hard-working as ever.
Stephane Da Costa
See "Biggest gains."
David Dziurzynski Played just 9:08 n his debut. No way to make an evaluation on that.
Derek Grant
Played just 7:30 in his debut. No way to make an evaluation on that.
Colin Greening No use pretending he's not struggling out there. Scratched for two callups from Binghamton, he's the first to admit it.
Guillaume Latendresse Still "whiplashed." Hopefully he's out there, somewhere, acting like a maniac and thrashing all around.
Milan Michalek Tweaked his knee in warmups against Toronto. Not sure when he'll return.
Chris Neil Not sure where he fits in the the new world order yet. Can't just skate around looking for guys to beat up because the team needs a spark every night.
Jim O`Brien The scratch appears to have woken him up--he scored a nice, dirty goal against Pittsburgh. Now tied with Turris for second on the team in goals with four.
Jakob Silfverberg No points despite 8 shots in 3 games. That's like one game's worth for Karlsson.
Zack Smith Speaking of 8 shots, Z. Smith has also been noticeable in other facets of the game, most notably faceoffs. He's been getting more comfortable, it looks like.
Kyle Turris Still adjusting, it looks like.
Mika Zibanejad
No points in almost two weeks now. He went hard to the net in Toronto, but , you know, youth and all that.
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