Senators Ups and Downs: Playoffs Week 3

Like Dr. Phil, Colin Greening makes Brooks Orpik reevaluate his life choices. - Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

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

If only. That's what most Sens fans were saying after losing two games in Pittsburgh. The Penguins are such a good team that the Senators need just about everything to go their way to beat them--and that's hard to do when your opponent is forcing the issue. In game one, special teams didn't go their way. In game two, goaltending didn't go their way. Finally, in game three, they got goaltending, special teams, and clutch scoring. The result? Life in a series that was quickly slipping away.

Biggest Gains: Colin Greening

He's having a hell of a series. (True story: I wrote that and picked him before game 3.) Greening is now on a three-game goal-scoring streak and scored the game-winner in the second overtime of game three. But in a tough series, Soylent's toughness has stood out. Consider that he's primarily played bottom-six minutes, and his performance looks even better. Through three games, Greening has been the Senators' most consistent forward in the series. If the team can get some scoring from its other lines, Greening's play could be a real asset. If they can't, though, he's not good enough to win the series himself.

Biggest losses: Erik Karlsson

Trying to do to much. Needs to play within his current limits, and that has to be hard for a guy who mentally is still expecting to do more. It has to be beyond frustrating to try to do something and have your muscles just go, "Nope." Karlsson hit a low in game two, turning in an awful performance, and played much better in game three, but also took two tough penalties, including a slash on Matt Cooke that should have ended the game and put the Senators down 3-0 in the series. He's got to play smarter until he's totally healthy.

Goalies Trend Notes
Craig Anderson

He was average in game one, awful in game two, and amazing in game three. The Senators can win this series if Anderson plays well enough--but "well enough" here means at a Vezina level, apparently.
Robin Lehner

Came in to relieve Anderson and only allowed 1 goal on 21 shots. Did exactly what a backup should: Give his team a chance to win--and they almost did, in a game they were getting blown out of.
Defensemen
Andre Benoit

Looked very strong in his first NHL playoff game. The Penguins' style of play suits his game, and his big hit on Jarome Iginla led to a Senators goal.
Jared Cowen

Looked pretty bad with Gryba, but much better with Gonchar. Cowen needs to be free to do his thing in his own zone and find someone to dish the puck to.
Sergei Gonchar

Was that Gonchar dropping people in game three? After a soft game two, he looks much more engaged.
Eric Gryba

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The shoe is on the other foot after Gryba was knocked out of the series on a big hit by Brooks Orpik.
Erik Karlsson

See "Biggest losses."
Marc Methot

His offensive explosion has unsurprisingly come to an end tasked with covering Sidney Crosby, but Crosby has been held pointless in two of three games now. That's pretty good. Of course, there is that whole hat-trick debacle... but those came on Karlsson's side.
Chris Phillips

Interestingly enough, Phillips is plus-3 on the series, and plus-3 in games he's played with Andre Benoit. Keep it simple and he's an asset.
Patrick Wiercioch

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He has resumed skating, but no return is imminent.
Forwards
Daniel Alfredsson

So, if you're keeping track--and we are--Alfie has now created game-tying goals in the last 30 seconds of both series, both of which ultimately led to wins. And his face after yesterday's goal was epic boss.
Erik Condra

His performance blitz continues, as Condra is now on a four-game points streak. He has three assists in three games against the Penguins, and is no longer wasted on the fourth line with better teammates like Pageau and Greening.
Cory Conacher

We love that Conacher is trying his hardest to piss off the Penguins; we just wish he'd either stay out of the box in the process or log some points to make up for his trips there.
Colin Greening

See "Biggest gains."
Matt Kassian

Unlikely to draw back in at this point. Who do you take out for him?
Guillaume Latendresse

Unlikely to draw back in at this point. Who do you take out for him?
Milan Michalek

That's weird. Michalek didn't produce for the first two games, and then played much better when Spezza returned to the lineup.
Chris Neil

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Piled up 21 hits and assist in three games before appearing to injure his shoulder in overtime of game three. Please be okay; the team needs you.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Another goal and outstanding faceoff numbers for the rookie, who seems to be feasting on the matchups a bottom six role is giving him.
Jakob Silfverberg

He has not had a good series, as the Penguins have given him no space at all with which to work. He doesn't even have time to get off wrist shots. But he appears to be adjusting by trying to possess the puck more, and that's a positive sign.
Zack Smith

Has had some disappointing faceoff numbers considering it's one of his strengths, but looked really good checking on Zibanejad's wing--he threw six hits, and all of them big.
Jason Spezza

What a return. The whole team looked better with him in the lineup. Though he didn't score any points, he still changed the dynamics of the game by creating better matchups for all of his teammates.
Kyle Turris

Scored another goal by going to a scoring area, and put on a masterful performance on the second line once Spezza returned.
Mika Zibanejad

We've been completely unimpressed by Zibanejad in this series. And part of that is not his fault--Crosby and Malkin are pretty much the toughest competition he can face--but we're not surprised he had a better game when teamed with Z. Smith and Neil, and his responsibilities against the other team were reduced.

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

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