Senators Ups and Downs: Week 18

Karlsson was probably like, "Hey, if you won't shoot, I will." And Spezza was like, "Okay, get open." - Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

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

The Senators touched the promised land, if only briefly, this week. Wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning out the team in playoff position. That was squandered with a disheartening loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but there were plenty of positives to take from that game as well. As it stands, the Senators remain within striking distance of a playoff spot--the same old story. This week represents a huge test for the team, as they play some pretty good teams. Not only do they have to keep winning to remain within striking distance, but beating some of the best teams in the league would go a long way towards helping us believe they'll find themselves in the playoffs when the dust settles at the end of the season.

Biggest gains: Jason Spezza

Spezza put up 4P (1GWG, 3A) in 3 games this week and displayed a bit of chemistry with some guy named Erik Karlsson. It's easy for us to forget that Spezza is an extremely talented player, and that creativity isn't something that disappears as a player hits 30. Spezza is looking better than he has all year, and that's a good thing for a team that's going to need to keep scoring to make the playoffs. Now, if the team could just get all four lines going at the same time...

Biggest losses: Chris Phillips

If Phillips weren't who he was, the questions about his future with the franchise would be much louder than they currently are. Currently missing time with an undisclosed lower body injury, Phillips' absence from the lineup has been completely unnoticeable. And that's a bad thing, because now you have to ask what, exactly, he's bringing to the team when he's active. Honestly besides nebulous answers like "veteran presence," we can't think of much--and we'd rather see the young guys take their lumps and get better than Phillips simply exist.

Goaltenders Trend Notes
Craig Anderson Still playing well enough to get the team wins but Anderson this year is not making the big saves that he made last year, and that's making games more nerve-wracking than they should be.
Robin Lehner Didn't get a chance to play this week.
Defensemen
Cody Ceci If Ceci would just act like Kadri, Ottawa probably would have won. Welcome to the NHL, kid.
Joe Corvo Didn't get a chance to play this week, but he'll probably draw back in for Wiercioch.
Jared Cowen Now nine hits against Tampa Bay! Starting to find his niche playing alongside Karlsson.
Eric Gryba Gryba is the new Cowen: Poor guy had a strong game marred by one bad play. Now that's all anyone is going to focus on, and that sucks. And yet, we must give down arrows for mistakes that result in GWGs.
Erik Karlsson Only 2P (1G, 1A) in 3 games, which is un-Karlssonlike, but he had an off-night in a crucial game against Toronto.
Marc Methot Looks pretty good alongside Gryba.
Chris Phillips See "Biggest losses."
Patrick Wiercioch We have a feeling that his offensive blueline flub is gonna get Joe Corvo some ice time.
Forwards
Cory Conacher Another assist, and more maulings. Martin St. Louis doesn't need to get beat up to succeed in the NHL.
Erik Condra Better week from Condra, but still no points.
Stephane Da Costa Much better week for him, but was scratched against Toronto.
Colin Greening More useful playing with Z. Smith and Neil.
Matt Kassian We just don't feel Kassian makes this team better.
Clarke MacArthur Only one assist. It's okay for him to cool off if Bobby Ryan heats up, but...
Milan Michalek We like to see Michalek's effect match his will. No points, but at least you notice him.
Chris Neil Whoa.
Bobby Ryan Still generating offense, but goals remain inconsistent.
Z. Smith Scoring and checking. Sign us up.
Jason Spezza See "Biggest gains."
Mark Stone Remains out of the lineup.
Kyle Turris Another multipoint game this week. As Turris continues to develop, look for his point production to become a little less chaotic.
Mika Zibanejad Looks a little lost now that he's not centering his own line.

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

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