"Like this, Jacke. See?" - Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo
Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week.
So, what a week, huh? Craig Anderson gets hurt and it's no big deal; Ben Bishop rattles off three wins, including two in the shootout. Four wins in four outings leaves the team in the middle of the playoff race and with breathing room between them and the teams chasing them--and all this comes less than a week after we had started talking about tanking for a lottery pick. Trade Anderson, trade anyone with any value, said some. Looks like the team didn't get that memo. The season could go down the toilet at any point, but after winning with backups and youngsters, you have to feel that the sense of inevitability that accompanied those injuries has dissipated.
Biggest gains: Jakob Silfverberg
Weeks like this, we feel like Oprah: "You get a green arrow! And you get a green arrow!" But we're going with Ooh Ah here because when things were bleakest, he was the forward who came through. He was the only scorer in the shootout, and beating Martin Brodeur, even at his age today, is no small feat. It was Silfverberg who set up defenseman Andre Benoit for his first NHL goal, and it was Silfverberg that beat Henrik Lundqvist shorthanded to put the New York Rangers on their heels. If circumstances had been different, he wouldn't have needed to beat Lundqvist again in a shootout, but he did, and he did. Silfverberg had three points and two shootout goals in three games this week--and every one was huge.
Biggest losses: Stephane Da Costa
Riding high in April, shot down in May. Da Costa's path this week went like this: 12 minutes->12 minutes->6 minutes-> AHL. Rough ride for a kid we thought was doing well, but we still think he has the look of an NHL player, and we wouldn't have said that last year. Just because it doesn't happen immediately doesn't mean that it never will.
|Craig Anderson||Sprained his ankle against the Rangers, but thankfully, it's reportedly day-to-day. The team has the luxury of enough depth at goal to wait until he's fully healed, as well, which is nice.|
|Ben Bishop||Not only did he win three of three possible games this week, check out his numbers for the year: 2.47 GAA, .921 save percentage. Anderson's final numbers last year: 2.73 GAA, .915 save percentage.|
|Andre Benoit||Guy got his first goal. I mean, come on. He also looks to have some chemistry with Phillips.|
|Sergei Gonchar||Tough to know what to make of Gonchar. He's on a five-game pointless streak, but expecting him to match Erik Karlsson's production with the same minutes is totally unfair. He is logging huge minutes under head coach Paul MacLean, but you get the feeling it's merely about consistent, and not impact, play.|
|Eric Gryba||Announcing crews love him more than we do. Gryba is all over the map. He's as likely to contribute a point (he has two assists in his last three games) or big hit as he is to contribute a heart-stopping turnover or untimely penalty. It's important to remember these are his first NHL games, and he's got an adjustment to make, just like every rookie ever.|
|Mike Lundin||Hasn't played in the last three games. Scratched due to the flu on Saturday. Not looking like a better option than the guys who are currently dressing, but at least can help keep legs fresh.|
|Marc Methot||Quietly awesome. Methot without Karlsson is much more of all-around guy, but it's a role he's performing well at. May be Ottawa's best defenseman for the remainder of the season.|
|Chris Phillips||Has looked very steady in all of the wins this week. Can still do well in the right situation, and still has the skills to make some sneaky veteran plays, like that standing poke check on Nazem Kadri, who was made to look foolish in full stride.|
|Should not be scratched again; his passing skills are too valuable--and he beat Lundqvist in the shootout, except he is a defenseman and can't hit the net.|
|Who broke the Senators out of their scoring slump? Who did the work to spring Silfverberg shorthanded? Who leaves it out there every night? He does.|
|Can't beat the goalie with your hands? Use your body.|
|Shootout winner. Latvians do it intentionally.|
|Stephane Da Costa||See "Biggest losses."|
|Took him all of three games to get his first NHL goal. Also has 14 hits and 10 shots in four games this week. Unapologetically unfancy. MacLean must love him.|
|Grant is 17-13 on faceoffs this week. For a fourth liner who also plays the penalty kill on a team that preaches puck possession, that's a good way to stay in the NHL.|
|Scratched against New Jersey, he has five points in the next three games. Strong contender for biggest gains; he seems to have gotten his head right.|
|Milan Michalek||Rumor is he's close to returning from a "tweaked" knee. Rumor was he was going to have surgery before that. So who knows? But, he skated on Saturday, and that's good.|
|Chris Neil||Remember the Chris Neil who had more goals than Alfie? We want that guy back.|
|Jim O`Brien||Not exactly tearing it up like he once was, and was also scratched against the Islanders and Rangers. Maybe he's just ineffective against teams from New York?|
|See "Biggest gains."|
|Awesomely bullied Kadri, and has been the team's best faceoff man since Jason Spezza got hurt. Still goalless, but not for lack of effort. They'll come.|
|Starting to find chemistry with Silfverberg and Alfie. It would be great if they formed a cohesive first line considering the chaos this roster has seen.|
|Two-game goal streak now. Looking much more confident playing with Greening and Condra. Willing to get in front of the net. You can see flashes of the player he could become as the game slows down for him.|