Sergei Gonchar's improvement is having a ripple effect across the team. - 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, in four games this week, the Senators went 2-0-2, which means they picked up six of a possible eight points. Not too shabby, considering both overtime losses came in a shootout, where goalie Robin Lehner admits he's not great... yet. More importantly, against Montreal, the Senators rallied from a 3-1 deficit on the road in Montreal--the Habs were the division leaders at the time--to get a point and rallied from a 2-0 deficit in Buffalo to get a win. Rallied. On. The. Road. It sure feels like Ottawa was able to build off that to culminate in a decisive 4-1 win over Winnipeg to close out their week. The Sens are now 5, 7, and 8 points clear of the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers respectively--those are the teams currently standing 8th, 9th, and 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Maybe head coach Paul MacLean wasn't just spouting cliches when he talked about playing 200 feet and 60 minutes when he took over this team.
Biggest gains: Sergei Gonchar
Kyle Turris is the easy pick here, considering he broke out of his slump in a huge way, but what Sergei Gonchar did this week is even more impressive when compared to how he started the season. It's like a completely different player is in his jersey. His decision-making has been close to impeccable, and his ice time has skyrocketed as a result. It's no coincidence he's now on a seven-game assist streak, and in four games this week, he had six assists--including four in his past two games. The Senators were averaging more than two goals a game with Erik Karlsson on the blueline. It's no coincidence they've now scored at least three goals in three consecutive games during Gonchar's recent assist-o-rama spree. When the defense can help out the offense, this team is much, much better.
Biggest losses: Mark Stone
Sorry, kid, you're just not ready for the NHL yet. Stone's ice time this week: 9:01 -> 5:51 -> Sent to Binghamton. Paulrus doesn't mess around when he decides a player isn't contributing. The addition of Kassian meant someone had to go, and Stone was that guy. There's no real shame in that. Most 20-year-olds aren't ready to play in the NHL. Patrick Wiercioch wasn't, and two years later, he's doing all right for himself. This was by no means Stone's last chance.
|Ben Bishop||Our own Ryan Classic called for a bounce back and got it: Bishop won his only start this week, and didn't even need a shootout to do it.
|One of many players who could have fairly been labeled the biggest gainer. Lehner could be an instructor in Destructonomics. The benefits he and Bishop are giving this team won't even all manifest until we consider that Craig Anderson has the luxury of rehabbing his ankle injury properly--as oppossed to someone like Michalek.|
|Andre Benoit||Had an assist and didn't really screw up too much, but didn't do anything special. He looks best paired with Phillips
|Eric Gryba||Gryba was all over the place this week. 15 hits in four games. Plus-3. Six PIMs. His good plays continue to remain offset by his mistakes.|
|Sergei Gonchar||See "Biggest gains."|
|Mike Lundin||Reportedly already skating in a non-contact jersey.|
|Marc Methot||Methot wasn't as noticeable this week with the offensive guys stealing the spotlight.|
|Chris Phillips||Another candidate for biggest gains, with a goal and two assists, and an impressive level of confidence since his big fight last week.|
|Looks more and more like a legitimate NHL player every game.|
|4P (2G, 2A) and doing whatever he wants on the ice. "It's a f'n goal." Indeed.|
|Condra's back on the fourth line, where his possession skills are needed. That limits his opportunites for points, but doesn't make him less valuable.|
|Still out as a result of his knockout last week. More importantly, when he's ready, who even comes out?|
|No points for Greening this week, despite playing on three different lines.|
|Matt Kassian||Only played 3:21 in his first game an 7:13 in his second, but it was great seeing him stick up for Regin against Winnipeg.|
|Guillaume Latendresse||Holy crap. Two goals--his first two of the season--as soon as his doctors helped him rid his migranes. It's like confidence matters.
|Milan Michalek||"Setback." The worst fears of playing on a injured knee realized.|
|Two assists and beat the crap out of Robyn Regehr. Sign me up.|
|He's done a good job on faceoffs, which is pretty important on a puck possession team.|
|Regin killed it on faceoffs this week and put together some strong penalty killing. If he's a fourth line player for this team, that's good enough.|
|Two goals and one assist and 17 shots in four games. That's acceptable.|
|Z. Smith managed two assists in top-six minutes. He doesn't belong in the top six, so it's nice to see him produce while he's there.|
|Mark Stone||See "Biggest losses."
|6P (4G, 2A) in four games.Gonna let the numbers do the talking here.|
|A goal and an assist means he has the exact same stat line as Silfverberg--but he's three years younger.|