Ups and Downs: Week 26

Maybe the last time we'll see number 19 in home red. He went out in style. - Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto

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

For those of us that stuck with it till the bitter end, the Senators closed out the 2013-2014 season in style. Five consecutive, if meaningless, wins should leave fans with a slightly less bitter taste in their mouths heading into the offseason. This is not to say management should base its' decision-making off this final spurt, and God help us all if Bryan Murray pronounces himself satisfied with the team, but it's amazing what some more playing time will do for guys like Hoffman, Stone and Wiercioch.

Biggest gains: Jason Spezza. The captain, by his own admission, has had a bit of a rough go of it this year but boy, did he turn it on down the stretch. He went for three goals and an assist this week, including two game winners, and then he topped it all off with an absolute beauty of a shootout-clinching goal Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His line never saw less than a 57% shot attempt share all week and his chemistry with Hemsky continued to be a thing of beauty. There were lots of candidates for this position (and how rare it is to say that this year!) but in what might be his last week with the team, Spezza deserved it.

Biggest losses: Cody Ceci. Unlike the above, there were not many candidates for this dishonour and I'm not sure it's entirely fair to pin "losses" on Ceci per say. That being said, he was one of the few Senators to register negative possession numbers for the week as Ottawa largely carried the play at 5v5 in all four games. On the whole, Ceci's first season in the big show has been a success but I've felt like he ran out of gas a bit at the end and this week was just kind of the culmination of that. If the Senators aim to return to the playoffs next year, he'll need to take the step from serviceable 3rd pairing D man to legitimate top 4. Let's hope that leap is coming sooner than later.

Goaltenders Trend Notes
Craig Anderson A fantastic final week for Craig Anderson, yielding just one goal on seventy-four shots in two games played.
Robin Lehner Just like his counterpart, Robin Lehner excelled in the season's final week with two wins and a sparkling .955 SV%. These last few games have gone a long way to calming some nerves amongst Sens fans worried about the goalie of the future.
Defensemen

Cody Ceci See: Biggest Losses
Jared Cowen I don't like to speak ill of the injured, but Ottawa's looked pretty good in the games Cowen hasn't played
Eric Gryba He did his Gryba thing: played tough ice reasonably well. He was alright.
Erik Karlsson As goes Karlsson, so go the Senators: two more points, another week of driving play with his high octane offensive skills.
Marc Methot Had a couple points in the Islanders game, but also got a little beat up in the possession game this week.
Chris Phillips He's been showing his age all year, but this was one of Phillips' better weeks: no goals against while he was on the ice, positive possession numbers throughout, and generally less scary moments with the puck.
Patrick Wiercioch Continues to prove he belongs in the top 6 for next season. Looked fantastic on the power play with Karlsson. More of that, please.
Forwards

Erik Condra Condra got beat up this week. Not a lot of ice time, and not great results in those minutes.
Colin Greening A return to health and some surprisingly good play from big number 14. He's got a contract that's out of whack with his value, but give him 4th line minutes and I don't think he hurts you.
Ales Hemsky 4 more points for Hemsky, and a continuation of great chemistry with Spezza. I think I speak for the vast majority of fans when I say: SIGN THIS GUY.
Mike Hoffman Not that Hoffman was terrible, but his last week was maybe his weakest since the call-up, with the low point being a healthy scratch against the Islanders
Matt Kassian It's hard for me to give a guy a bad grade when he does his job. Kassian is Kassian. Whatever.
Clarke MacArthur Just the one point, but his on-going partnership with Turris was one of the highlights of the Senators' season. He's been brilliant all year; this week he was just good.
Milan Michalek Yet another Senator who might have played his last game with the team. I've always liked Milo, but he's also struck me as someone that might just be along for the ride. This week enforced that for me.
Chris Neil Only a -1 in penalty differential this week. Not too bad. Otherwise, he was pretty much the same old Chris Neil.
Bobby Ryan Get better Bobby!
Z. Smith Nothing doing for Smith this week: no points and his "checking line" got devoured at 5v5 in two of the four games.
Jason Spezza See: biggest gains.
Mark Stone Kid's looked fantastic since his recall and I thought he was unlucky to just get the one goal this week. The chances are there, the scoring will come.
Kyle Turris A great last game of the year for Turris to go along with three pretty solid outings.
Mika Zibanejad Mysterious ailment ends his season prematurely. Hopefully nothing serious, because the Senators need Mika, badly.

Bonus: Jean-Gabriel Pageau gets a for his tenacious play and dragging along some weaker line-mates all week. I like his game a lot; if only he were about 2 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier.

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

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