Senators Ups and Downs: Week 10

If you see this situation now, Latendresse is probably going to score. - Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

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

It was a good week for the Senators, who went 2-1-0 in three games, and who could have easily gone 3-0 if Robin Lehner didn't suck so much get unlucky in the last minute. The Senators had outplayed the Bruins, but eventually lost 2-1 on a last minute goal. There were also some scares, with defensemen Marc Methot and Sergei Gonchar both missing time due to injury. Methot tweaked a knee and Gonchar suffered an undisclosed injury-speculated to be a sore back--but both were able to return by the weekend. It's highly unlikely that either one is playing at 100% health right now, but both were able to overcome things to put in a strong performance.

But that's a microcosm of the team, right? This group has an identity of overcoming adversity to put in a strong performance. It's why they're in position to make the playoffs despite the avalanche of injuries they've suffered. Setbacks don't get the team down on themselves.

Biggest gains: Guillaume Latendresse

Consider the possibility that Latendresse has not been healthy until this point in the season. He'd been healed from his hip and concussion issues coming into the season--the team probably wouldn't have signed him otherwise--but if he was dealing with migraines throughout the season, that's a pretty serious handicap. When he was sidelined, the club termed it as "whiplash"--almost always code for a concussion, and totally reasonable speculation given his concussion history. Instead, he saw a specialist, and has been symptom-free for a while. It was evident on his first shift in his return, a breakaway goal, and his play has continued to improve since then: Latendresse had two goals and an assist in three games this week. Most notably, all of his goals have from in close on the net. He's not blowing anyone away with his speed, but he's giving the team a viable scoring second line. It's no coincidence that in the seven games since his return to form, the team has scored three or more goals in five of those contests.

Biggest losses: Jim O'Brien

Despite being third on the team in goals with 5 (Three are tied for first with 8, and two are tied for second with 6) O'Brien has been scratched for the past two games, and only played 8:54 against the New York Islanders. It could be fleeting, since head coach Paul MacLean has shown a preference to keep his players fresh, but considering he's being scratched for Peter Regin, who has zero goals, that's an interesting dynamic to look at. The bottom six is crucial to the success of the team this year, and Regin has performed well in his past two games--despite not scoring any goals. Penalty killing and checking and puck possession still matter. Doesn't look like there's any free rides on the roster this year. Anyone is replaceable.

Goalies Trend Notes
Ben Bishop It wasn't pretty, but Bishop got a win in his only start this week. And really, that's all you can ask of a backup: Get the 'W'.
Robin Lehner
Lehner played well enough to win against Boston and was only beaten by deflections against Tampa Bay. Giving his team a chance to win is all you can ask of the starter.
Defensemen

Andre Benoit Benoit had an assist against the Islanders but his play wasn't strong enough to avoid being scratched against Tampa Bay.
Eric Gryba Got his first goal against Tampa Bay (and was a plus-3 to boot) and played a very strong game against Boston. You can see the kind of player he can become once he gets used to NHL competition.
Sergei Gonchar Continues to kill it. Has now set a franchise record assist streak with 10 games. Could be seeing the ice better than any other player on the team.
Mike Lundin Lundin drew in when Methot was injured and played well enough to stay in the lineup. He looks like a better fit than Benoit.
Marc Methot Methot was dominant in his return from injury: two assists, plus-3, six hits, two blocked shots, and one fight won--he simply pinned B.J. Crombeen against the boards, like an exasperated parent dealing with a tantruming child.
Chris Phillips Not surprising, Phillips has cooled off since his huge week. But that's okay. He doesn't have to be amazing when the rest of the defense are playing so well.
Patrick Wiercioch

With four assists this week, Wiercioch is now fourth on the team in scoring.
Forwards

Daniel Alfredsson

3P (2G, 1A) and still doing whatever he wants on the ice. Plus, ridiculous levels of leadership.
Erik Condra

As a fourth-liner, Condra doesn't get the same opportunities to score like, say, Silfverberg, but the penalty killing unit went 15-for-16 on the week. That doesn't happen without Condra.
Kaspars Daugavins

Scored the only goal against Boston, but scratched against Tampa Bay.

Dave Dziurzynski

Apparently Daugavins comes out when Dziurzynski comes back.
Colin Greening

Eight hits, five shots on goal, and one assist. Not a bad week.
Matt Kassian Kassian scored his first goal as a Senator beautifully in New York and won his first fight as a Senator beautifully against Tampa Bay. He's averaging about 3 minutes on the road and 7 minutes at home. It seems his effectiveness is matchup-driven.
Guillaume Latendresse See "Biggest gains."
Milan Michalek Surgery. The team seems to believe he'll be back before the year ends.
Chris Neil

Some will point to a goalless drought for Neil, but on the third line, that's not his job. 17 hits and 14 PIMs on one play (!) sticking up for Wiercioch. Neil's making life miserable for his opponents--and that's his job.
Jim O`Brien

See "Biggest losses."
Peter Regin

Regin appears to have stolen the fourth-line center job from JOB. Needs to be better on faceoffs if he's going to keep it, though. After winning 7 of 12 against New York, he won just 6 of 14 the rest of the week.
Jakob Silfverberg

He continues to shoot and points continue to go in. It's as if there's a correlation between taking shots and scoring goals--and when you have a shot like Silfverberg's, shots are what you want to see.
Zack Smith

Although Z. Smith managed a sweet goal this week, he's also having an awful string of bad luck, with everything he's deflecting going into his own net. He and Lehner must not be friends at the moment.
Kyle Turris

Well, Turris only had two assists this week. So that must mean he sucks again, right?
Mika Zibanejad

On the other hand, Mikachu's two assists are better because he's playing on the second line and his two wingers have four goals on the week.
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