'It was the best of times...it was the worst of times'
-Bobby Ryan describing this past week (as written in a text to Getzlaf from his eagles nest CTC game-view)
Let's lay the cards on the table, here, and call a spade a spade; This entire Sens season has been cursed.
I blame the refs, and I hate hockey, and I hate everyone.
There. I feel a lot better. Don't you?
This week has actually summarized the entire season of the Ottawa Senators quite well; a dash of post-season hope sent swimming into a supercharged blender of despair.
After beating the Calgary Flames truculently with a 6-3 blaster, and sealing a strange 2-1 shootout victory against the Carolina Hurricanes, this week started out with four well-earned points. Our faith was being slightly restored, and we were all thinking 'hunh - maybe...the RABHA can pull this off?' But after a winnable 2-1 loss to future vezina candidate (see 'irony') Anders Nilsson and the Islanders, and a seven-straight-goals-sledgehammer-to-the-soul 7-4 loss to the Habs, every Sens fan could be seen walking with heads earth-ward while the sad, Christmasy Charlie Brown theme song played in their minds.
The dimmest ray of hope, however, pierced the dark clouds when the Sens played one of their stronger games of the season against the Rangers in MSG last night and squeaked out a 3-2 victory. Spezza scored a dirty, garbage goal while Stone and Zibanejad put -un-fancy shots directly on and into the net. Sure - New York pummeled Lehner with shots and our D looked suspect, but that's nothing new. The difference was that Lehner stood tall and didn't go down as quickly as he usually does. If this big man keeps staying up until the last possible minute, and uses his size to cover the net, he will be one of the best goalies in the game. Let's hope he sticks to his recent net-minding methods.
Biggest Gains: Milan 'Milo' Michalek has finally started to play with some pith and vinegar. Like most Sens, he probably returned a bit early from his injury at the start of the season (knee troubles) but he's showing signs of life. With three goals in the last week (putting him at 17, which is way up from a piddling 6 in his first 44 games), he's shown that it only took a full season (and the signing of Ales Hemsky) for him to come alive. But in all honesty, I do believe that he's shown some grit in March and April, and he even notched the most average TOI for any forward last week (high of 19:38 and low of 17:01). If they re-sign Hemsky, I think they'd be silly not to at least offer him some semblance of a contract in the off-season. I mean...who else is going to want him?
Biggest Losses: Although the chart would indicate otherwise, Anderson turned in one of his worst performances of all time against the Habs on Saturday night. After a stellar game against the cup-defending Blackhawks, he let in 7 goals on 23 shots (including a staggeringly dreadful 5 goals on 12 shots partway through the second period) and notched a .696 SV percentage. Of course the D-men left him out to dry, but he did not look like himself out there. Beyond that, in the last three years, he has not been able to play a full season without some kind of injury (see 'chicken' incident).
|Craig Anderson||The Alien looked spacey against the Habs, letting them back into the game all too quickly.
|Robin Lehner||After a terrible outing by Anderson, Lehner looked like the goalie we all know he can be with a 41 save performance against the high-flying Rangers.|
|Eric Gryba||GrybAAAAAAAAA! (*fist-shaking-at-the-heavens*)|
|Erik Karlsson||If there is ever not a green arrow beside this kid's name, you should run. Run far. And run fast. Don't look back.|
|Marc Methot||He had a good week, but he did that last week too. The bar for an up arrow was just too high for him this week.|
|Chris Phillips||Started a nice offensive rush against the Rangers that had us all wondering who this tall, quick-passing puck-mover was.|
|Patrick Wiercioch||This guy is making a run for the starting lineup.|
|Erik Condra||Say it with me now - UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A START CONDRA!|
|Colin Greening||Uh...Colin? Where WERE you?!?
|Ales Hemsky||4 more points into the Hemsky-hopper. #SignThisGuy
|Mike Hoffman||Solid effort from Hoffman (again), but couldn't get a taste of last week's success on the score sheet.
|Matt Kassian||Over three times as many penalty minutes as TOI. His fight against Westgarth sapped momentum (it literally killed a rush) and may earn him a 10 game suspension.|
|Clarke MacArthur||3 points and a +1. Yeah. I think we'll keep him.|
|Milan Michalek||A three goal week has the world of Sens-dom wondering if he's bounding back into form or just trying to escape the hell of this season with a lightly singed a$$.|
|Chris Neil||He's out there. Skating. Hitting. He does some stuff.|
|Bobby Ryan||This guy has the best view in the rink.|
|Z. Smith||Score goals much? Nice week for ZSmith. Hey Zack - don't follow Michalek's lead. We need goal scorers ALL season long.|
|Jason Spezza||Missed a few games but brought himself back to even by scoring a dirty goal against the Rangers.
|Mark Stone||Put home a nice one-timer against Lundqvist. He's looking more and more like a starter every game.|
|Kyle Turris||Always working hard and creating offense on every shift. He should wear an A full-time next season.
|Mika Zibanejad||A couple of goals and some physical play. The future looks bright for Ziba.
Special thanks to our friend winterion at Japers' Rink for our icons!