Senators Ups and Downs: Playoffs Week 2

Kyle is so cool he never breaks a sweat. - Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

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

Let's not pretend we both don't know what happened last week. The Senators didn't lose a game, eliminating the Montreal Canadiens from the playoffs, and it was so, so sweet. The road doesn't get any easier with the Pittsburgh Penguins as the team's next opponent, but the road goes on a little longer yet. There's not much more you could ask for from a team that's in the second year of a rebuild.

Biggest gains: Kyle Turris

It's not just that he's on a three-game goal-scoring streak, it's how he's scoring them. Turris hasn't gotten any space, and so he's chosen to go to other areas to get goals instead. These may have all been gifts, but are they easy goals because of luck, or easy goals because Turris has put himself in an area where the puck is likely going to wind up? Turris looks like he's adjusted his game to the more tightly-checked playoffs--prime shooting opportunities are now rare, and scoring chances have to be found in other ways.



Biggest losses: Milan Michalek

Hate to do this. Hate to point out a guy who's not producing when it already feels like he's becoming a whipping boy among the fanbase. Hate to encourage any negative talk about a guy who isn't even a year removed from being the team's leading goal-scorer. Hate everything about this. But there's just no denying Michalek was largely a passenger this series. Even his usual sneaky "I'm going to burn you shorthanded if you give me chance" role was played by Erik Condra in this series. Michalek's zero points in two games this week were cushioned by his teammates' production and his quality defensive play, but that cushion probably disappears against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Senators will need all hands on deck if they're going to win that series, and two points from their top winger won't cut it.

Goalies Trend Notes
Craig Anderson

Lost in the hoopla of celebration is that Anderson was simply outstanding. We're taking a .950 save percentage for granted because he makes it look so easy. Think about that.
Robin Lehner

Watch and learn.
Defensemen
Andre Benoit

Isn't going to beat out Gryba for a spot.
Jared Cowen

Built for the playoffs. Cowen doesn't give up space easily and the playoffs are all about finding space.
Sergei Gonchar

Currently on a three-game point streak, Gonchar was also the defensman head coach Paul MacLean trusted the most in the defensive zone.
Eric Gryba

How about 9 hits in 2 games after his return from suspension? Gryba's been much better in the playoffs since Karlsson and Cowen have returned to ease his workload--he's free to play a simple, physical game.
Erik Karlsson

Tied for the team scoring lead and still leaving fans wanting more. I love him so much.
Marc Methot

Did you know that Methot had a goal and four assists in this series? That's right--he's tied with guys like Turris in scoring. He's an unsung hero right now, because there's not much more you could ask of him.
Chris Phillips

Phillips always seems to raise his game in the playoffs. Of course, it helps that like Gryba, he's able to just simplify his game with the return of Karlsson and Cowen. But we're not going to fault a guy for being in over his head when he's no longer in over his head.
Patrick Wiercioch

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No word on his injury, so we have to assume he's still injured. There's no one you'd take out of the lineup for him at the moment anyway.
Forwards
Daniel Alfredsson

Tied with Karlsson for the team scoring lead. Who here is really surprised that Alfie helped create back-breaking goals in games four and five?
Erik Condra

Any question about his value to the team should have been answered in the crushing short-handed goal he scored off of Turris' ass. Instead of the game being tied at 2-2, Condra swings it to 3-1. He also had the final goal of the series to cap off a three-point night, giving him 1G and 3A in 6 games. Not bad for a bottom-six guy.
Cory Conacher

How about this kid? Essentially benched after a mistake in game four, he immediately earns his coach's trust by scoring the game-tying goal and adding two more the next game. Oh, and he drew 7 more PIMs along the way.
Colin Greening

Greening is just out there to grind guys down, and that's okay.
Matt Kassian

Could have had a three-assist night if his 2-on-1 with Chris Phillips had gone better. He's not the most skilled player, but Kassian played a role in winning the series with his fists, his physicality, and his stick. No complaints.
Guillaume Latendresse

Didn't see any game action.
Milan Michalek

See "Biggest losses."
Chris Neil

Had an assist in game four and 13 hits--including 10(!) in game four--across the two games. The Senators outhit the Canadiens and wore them down, and Neil was instrumental in that.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau

No hat trick this week, but he still had two assists in the game five win. Pageau was moved off of the top line in these games, but did just fine in his more familiar role. Has to improve on faceoffs, though. He can't afford any 3-for-12 nights against the Penguins.
Jakob Silfverberg

No points this week. Not that he needed to do much with the way his teammates were going.
Zack Smith

Gotta love him taking the air out of the Bell Centre with an early goal--his only point of the series, but his role on this team is winning faceoffs, being physical, and keeping the other team off of the scoresheet. He's got to be better at that last one next series.
Kyle Turris

See "Biggest gains."
Mika Zibanejad

We didn't think Zibanejad had a strong series and weren't surprised to see him on the third line with Z. Smith and Neil. But then, we weren't surprised to see him score a huge goal on that line as well. At some point, the numbers (1G, 3A) don't lie. Mikachu may not have had a strong series, but he definitely had a clutch series. And he knows a little about clutch.

Special thanks to our friend winterion at Japer's Rink for our icons!

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