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Senators Ups and Downs: Week 20

It was not a good week for Ottawa, dropping games against Vancouver and Calgary -- both games they might have won if things went differently -- before finally besting the one team worse than they were in the standings, winning in Edmonton to the score of 5-3.  Of course, this improved their record without Mike Fisher to 1-0, because Fisher was traded to the Nashville Predatorslast week.  That makes this his final appearance in Ups and Downs, barring a return. 

Biggest Gains: Jason Spezza
Spezza seems to have found his game legs this week, with four points in three games.  Or, if you prefer, two multi-point games out of three.  He's not going to win games all by himself, but there's a lot more flow and excitement to Ottawa's game when he's in the lineup.  We don't think it's coincidence the team has played better hockey since his return -- even though the result on the scoresheet remains the same.  Also named an alternate captain in Daniel Alfredsson's absence.

Biggest Losses:Daniel Alfredsson
Back problems are going to sideline the aging captain for the foreseeable future.  One hopes Alfie will wait until he's fully healed before returning to the lineup, but he's shown in the past that he probably won't.  That's not good.  His health is critical to the team's success.  We know this season is a lost season, and part of that is because of Alfredsson's poor play.  Now we know that poor play was at least partly caused by injury.  Either the team or the player is going to have to manage his minutes better, because the Senators are not at a stage where they can afford to have Alfredsson out of the lineup. 


Goalies Trend Notes
Brian Elliott Finally got his first win of 2011.  Looks like a guy with no confidence.
Pascal Leclaire Most likely won't play for the team again.
Robin Lehner Has the look of an NHL goaltender, but is very rough around the edges, as the loss to Calgary showed.

Filip Kuba Kuba has been the team's worst defender on a team of bad defenders.
Chris Phillips Finally had a strong game against Edmonton, but that's like, what, one out of 50?
Sergei Gonchar Gonchar's play continues to improve, as he was even or positive in every game this week. 
Brian Lee Was unfairly scratched against Calgary, and then looked a player that deserved to be scratched against Edmonton.
Erik Karlsson Like Gonchar, Karlsson is one of the few defenders whose play seems to be improving.  He capped off the week with a plus-2, one-assist game against the Oilers. 
Chris Campoli Seems to be building on last week, with another goal this week and a good showing against both Vancouver and Calgary.
Matt Carkner Currently out with a lower body injury.  Sorry for the down arrow, Carks.

Jason Spezza See "Biggest Gains."
Alex Kovalev A three-point night against Edmonton continues Kovalev's hot streak.  He sure looks like a guy playing to get traded.
Daniel Alfredsson See "Biggest Losses."
Milan Michalek Not only is Michalek's speed back, but he's starting to play with power again, too.
Mike Fisher Sadly closes out his Sens career in a unpleasant way: Fisher was a combined minus-4 against Vancouver and Calgary before the trade.
Nick Foligno Had a two-point night his first time out with Regin and Kovalev.  There might be some chemistry there.
Chris Kelly Kelly continues to be the ideal third line center.
Chris Neil Neil was not particularly useful during this road trip.
Jarkko Ruutu Probably can't wait to be traded at this point.  He's going to be a good addition to a playoff team, but he isn't helping the Senators very much.
Peter Regin As mentioned, his line with Foligno and Kovalev looked good together.  Regin had a goal against the Oilers, which means that line combined for six points (3G, 3A) in that game.  If Regin can show he's a second line center or at least the potential to become one -- and there is a LOT to prove after his play this season -- the Mike Fisher trade won't sting the team so badly.
Jesse Winchester
Returned to the lineup (he was out for personal reasons) to promptly get injured.  Get well soon, buddy!
Ryan Shannon Shannon was hard to notice this week.
Zack Smith Was second in shots on goal against Vancouver with four behind Jason Spezza's seven.  Also won all three of his faceoffs in that game.  Needs to play more consistently if he's going to be more than a grinder.
Bobby Butler Decided that getting his first goal in the NHL wasn't enough and went for his first multi-point game at the same time.  Strong contender for biggest gains.  It's good to see him start to figure out the pro game.