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Three Stars of the Week: Week 14

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Well, this is fun.

Vancouver Canucks v Ottawa Senators Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

“Right now, we’re kinda in the dumpster”

- Eugene Melnyk, September 10, 2018

Oh, Mr. Melnyk. If the Ottawa Senators were in the dumpster in September, they’re in the back of a big green truck on the way to a landfill right now.

Week 14 has come and gone, and the Sens are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. Losses to the Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild, and Carolina Hurricanes have kept the team on a downward spiral.

With Thomas Chabot and Craig Anderson still out of the lineup, and a California road trip coming up this week, it doesn’t appear that things are going to get better any time soon.

With all that in mind, there were still some commendable efforts this week, so here are the Three Stars for Week 14.

  1. Ryan Dzingel - With trade talks regarding #18 heating up, this week could have only helped to boost his value. With 31 points in 41 games, and and six in his last four, Dzingel is on pace to obliterate his career high of 41 points. He was undoubtedly Ottawa’s best player in this tire fire of a week, leading the charge offensively and pushing the pace in all three games. With more weeks like this, the Senators could end up getting a great return for Ryan Dzingel.
  2. Matt Duchene - I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and I will continue to do so until I collapse on the floor and transcend my mortal form: Pay. This. Man. With 42 points in 37 games, it’s a crime that Duchene is getting no All-Star consideration, but he kept up his torrid pace this week. With five points in his last four games, he’s been the crux of Ottawa’s offensive output, scoring in every game this week. Bearing in mind his consistency and firepower, Matt Duchene is playing his way into a very nice contract. Be that in Ottawa, or elsewhere.
  3. Bobby Ryan - Though he lacks the scoring prowess of Dzingel and Duchene, Ryan is having a great stretch. After breaking out of a recent slump, he’s riding a four-game point streak, and has seven in his last eight games. Ryan added an assist in every game this week, and looked especially good in the Carolina game. Despite the loss, BFR looked confident in the offensive zone, and was moving the puck with the ease and skill of his former self. It’s great to see performances like this from Bobby.

A case could have been made for Mark Stone this week, but I left him off because he really wasn’t good against the Hurricanes. Other than a great play to assist on Pageau’s goal, he made an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers, including one that led to the Brock McGinn shorty, and struggled to move the puck up ice. Obviously this is no cause for alarm, he’s been Ottawa’s backbone all year, but Stone needs better performances than this if the Senators hope to have any success.

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  • Christian Wolanin has looked like a seasoned pro these past few games. He’s made great plays to move the puck up ice, and has shown a ton of heart. Wolanin absorbed a crushing hit to assist on Matt Duchene’s goal against the Canes, and plays like that show me he belongs with the big club.
  • Rudolfs Balcers scored his first NHL goal Sunday, and hasn’t looked out of place at all. Though he hasn’t had much in the way of ice-time, he’s shown flashes of offensive ability. Balcers could benefit from more time with better players, don’t be surprised if he produces if/when he gets it.
  • Jean-Gabriel Pageau made his return from injury this weekend, and looked like he hasn’t missed a step. He scored a goal, and played with noticeable intensity and aggression. Look for JG to bring some much-needed energy to a struggling Ottawa team.

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  • Marcus Hogberg turned in a soft effort against Carolina, after a stellar outing against the Canucks. Three weak goals likely cost the Senators the game, or at the very least didn’t help, and he needs to stop more pucks if he hopes to stay in Ottawa. Hogberg is currently boasting a GAA of 4.08, and SV% of .884. With Craig Anderson hoping to return during the California trip, it seems Hoggy will be bumped by Anders Nilsson as Andy’s backup.
  • Zack Smith has gone ice-cold after a stretch of points in November. Smith’s assist against Minnesota was his first point since December 11th, going nine games without a point. Guy Boucher has given Smith an average of around 15 mins of ice-time per game, despite his less-than-stellar possession numbers. If Zack Smith can’t step it up soon, hopefully the coach will start to give those minutes to younger players that could benefit from the experience.
  • Chris Tierney hasn’t scored in 10 games, as he’s prone to do. Though he’s chipping in with an assist or two every few games, expect him to take a backseat to the newly-returned Pageau. I think it’s safe to say JG is the better player, and that will be on full display going forward. That’s not a knock on Tierney, I just don’t see him playing higher than the fourth line on this team.