clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Senators thumbs up/thumbs down, playoff edition

After a one-week hiatus, it's time for a playoff edition of the Ottawa Senators thumbs up/thumbs down ranking. Overall, the team is down 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Onto the meat and potatoes:

Biggest gains: Peter Regin
Regin is leading the team in goals with two, and tied for the lead in points with three. That's a point a game average. Which is even more impressive considering the rookie (these have been his first three playoff games, for cryin' out loud) is only averaging 15:25 TOI/GP. He's certainly benefiting from playing with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, and if there wasn't much urgency to finding room to re-sign the kid this off-season before the playoffs, there is now.

Biggest losses: Nick Foligno
It's tough to do this to Foligno, considering anyone who watches the games can see how hard he's working when he's on the ice. But the fact of the matter is that, with both Alex Kovalev and Milan Michalek now injured, Foligno is going to have to demonstrate he can be a top six forward in this league, or he might be relegated in favour of Jonathan Cheechoo, or some similarly on-the-outs skater. No points and a -3 don't look very good right now, but I'm sure Foligno knows that. If he focuses on the little things, the big things usually follow.

(Read the full team's rundown... )

Goalies Trend Notes
Brian Elliott It hasn't been an easy go of things for Elliott, so far. You can't really expect a rookie goalie to stop guys like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby stone-cold, but Elliott has still allowed some questionable goals. I'm not throwing in the towel on him yet, though, and I doubt Cory Clouston is either.
Pascal Leclaire I'll still be surprised if Leclaire gets a sniff. He'll have to wait until next year, is my guess.
Filip Kuba Still injured. The Senators could probably use his leadership on the backend.
Chris Phillips Considering he's in a shutdown role against Crosby, the fact that Phillips is only -1 through the first three games of the series isn't so bad. Five hits and four blocked shots, though, aren't top shutdown numbers. He's got room for improvement, but he's been solid.
Andy Sutton Angry Andy's got nine hits and six shot blocks so far this series, which doesn't look too bad. He also threw the biggest hit of the playoffs so far, likely knocking the Pens' Jordan Leopold out for at least the series. Then again, I'm no expert, but at times he's been victimized by the speed of Malkin and Crosby, and sits at -3 in the series. My biggest concern, though, is that his hit on Leopold woke the Penguins up; they have been relentless in their attack since it happened.
Anton Volchenkov Volchenkov's doing just about what we all estimated he would: Seven hits, eleven blocked shots. He's even in +/-, too, so he's doing just about what he needed to in order to be effective. It might be too much to ask for more from him, but against these Penguins, we need him to step up even more.
Erik Karlsson Karlsson is -3 in the series so far, which isn't overly surprising. He's got two points, though, so that makes up for some of the weaknesses, and he's been reasonably solid defensively--it's just when and his linemate Sutton each make a minor mistake, it ends up with a major cost, usually on the scoreboard.
Chris Campoli Campoli has been one of the most pleasant surprises so far in the playoffs, and you may be surprised to find out that he hasn't been on the ice for a single Pittsburgh goal. Sure, he's only been on the ice for two Senators' goal, and sure, he hasn't had the most challenging matchups, he has averaged 16:14 TOI/GP, and he's been darn good in those minutes. And he's added three hits and six blocked shots to his totals, too.
Matt Carkner Carkner has been used relatively infrequently in the series so far--14:50 TOI/GP--but he's quietly had a solid series so far. Similar to Campoli, he hasn't seen much of Crosby or Malkin, but he's even and has six hits and seven blocked shots so far. He's keeping his game simple, and the Sens are definitely benefiting because of it.
Jason Spezza Spezza's been trying to generate chances whenever he can, but maybe he's trying a little to hard to do it by himself. He has three assists so far, whose importance and value can not be understated, but we'll need more from him to stay in the series. He's mostly kept up with Crosby in head-to-head play, but you can tell that when Crosby's determined, Spezza can't match him. Not to stifle his creativity, but the stakes are too high in the playoffs to try low-percentage drop-passes or to try and deke around an entire team yourself.
Alex Kovalev His presence is missed during the playoffs, to say nothing of his offensive production.
Daniel Alfredsson Alfredsson, similar to Spezza, may be a victim of trying to do too much. He's got three assists of his own, but the Senators need him and Spezza to get more sustained pressure in the offensive zone. When Ottawa's got the puck, Pittsburgh doesn't, so that's going to be a key going forward: Get in the zone, work the puck down low, and shoot when you have a chance. Alfredsson has two shots so far in the series; he needs a lot more than that.
Milan Michalek Turns out Michalek wasn't ready to return when he did, but you can't complain about his intensity for the few minutes he played.
Mike Fisher Fisher's got a goal and an assist so far, and he's bringing it physically--ten hits so far has his tied with Chris Neil for second on the team, behind Jarkko Ruutu. He's got six shots on net so far, but his goal on Sunday night was a rocket; he needs more of those. If he can't provide more offensively, he needs to increase his physicality, especially on opposing defenders. He might force turnovers, and could reap the benefits from them. Fisher's best stat is likely his incredible 63% faceoff winning percentage, but more offence is needed, too.
Matt Cullen Cullen's been a bright spot, as well, with a goal, two assists, and some very effective penalty-killing so far. He'll have to keep up his pace at the very least, and if he can offer more he needs to, but he's been solid so far.
Chris Kelly Ottawa's third line has badly outplayed Pittsburgh's so far, and a lot of that hinges on the defensive responsibility of Kelly as the pivot on that line. He set the bar high with three points in the series' first game, though, so we're going to continue looking for offence from him and his line as the series goes on; he needs to help the guys ahead of him.
Chris Neil Neil offered offensive support in that first game, too, and he's led the team physically with ten hits so far. Once again, though, we need him to provide some more timely offence. Two points in one game is awesome, but you need to win four games to win the series.
Jarkko Ruutu Ruutu's been a superpest so far, and he's added a goal in the process. His 16 hits lead the team, which was third in the league before Monday's games. His pestiness hasn't drawn penalties, though, so the team needs him to provide offence, just as they need more from his linemates.
Nick Foligno See Biggest losses.
Shean Donovan Donovan might get his first game action on Tuesday.
Peter Regin See Biggest gains.
Ryan Shannon Shannon's always had the benefit of the doubt with Clouston, but the fact that he's only averaging 6:12 TOI/GP in his two games shows how little he's offered to earn more ice time. It seems likely that Shannon will be replaced in the lineup for game four.
Jesse Winchester Winchester could stand to provide some offence for the team, but he's been a reasonably strong fourth-liner so far. Spot duty with on the penalty kill makes him a little more valuable than some others, but Winchester's another candidate for the press box for game four--especially when he's only 2/7 (28.6%) in the faceoff circle.
Zack Smith Z. Smith has been a solid contributor to the fourth line, even if he hasn't provided any offence yet. Among the league leaders with 80% in the faceoff circle (albeit a small sample size of five faceoffs), he's also got eight hits and he's dropped the gloves with Max Talbot, which is a pretty good trade-off. He's -1 so far, but don't expect Z. Smith to come out of the lineup thanks to his mix of speed and size.