Senators thumbs up/thumbs down, week 24

Another week's look at the Ottawa Senators' roster improvements and.. well... what's the opposite of improvements? The Senators went a perfect 4-0 on the week, outscoring their opponents 11-4 in the process. Went from wondering if they'd hold on to their playoff spot to about as close as clinched as you can get.

Biggest gains: Brian Elliott
Elliott played two games in the week, lost both, and allowed nine goals in the process. He was Cory Clouston's number one guy heading into the week, but fell far down the pecking order with his performances. His SP was .839 and his GAA was an abysmal 4.56. Tough week for the kid, but he'll probably get another chance, because Pascal Leclaire played just about as poorly in his start.

Biggest losses: Ryan Shannon
He was given a shot to earn his roster spot back against Buffalo, but didn't make the most of it. He was back to the press box for the next game, with Jesse Winchester and callup Zack Smith ahead of him on the depth chart. Unfortunately timed, given his recent contract extension.

(Read the full team's rundown... )

Goalies Trend Notes
Brian Elliott See the Biggest gains.
Pascal Leclaire Did not make an appearance. He's about as low as he can be right now.
Filip Kuba Still injured, and I think we're all really curious as to what the heck is wrong with him--and when he might come back.
Chris Phillips Another solid week for Big Rig. The Senators ran into penalty troubles a lot this week, and Phillips was his typically reliable self in helping kill off 17 of 18 opposing powerplays.
Andy Sutton Huge week for the huge defender. He stabilized the Senators defence, and is giving the Senators plenty of muscle to use if their opponent wants to get stupid. His physical game has brought out the same in Volchenkov, and the two of them are playing h.o.r.s.e. with Android in hitting defencemen.
Anton Volchenkov A one-man wrecking crew against Philadelphia, although he's not very popular with Simon Gagne or Flyers fans. He was re-gaining his physical form from early in the season, so hopefully his current injury is as non-serious as preliminary reports have indicated.
Erik Karlsson The rookie had six points in the week (1G, 5A), more than any teammate other than Alfredsson. He used his speed to step up into the play at every opportunity, even ones that don't look like good decision at first glance but work out in the end. Hopefully they continue working out, because Karlsson's most effective when he's joining the rush whenever he can.
Chris Campoli Good week for Campoli, but one assist isn't really going to cut it offensively--especially considering the powerplay time he's been getting on some nights. He's probably still number six on the depth chart, ahead of Carkner, but Cory Clouston is going to look for more from him.
Matt Carkner Had a solid week, but didn't really do anything to take back his roster spot from Campoli for when Kuba returns to the lineup. If Volchenkov misses any time, it will be Carkner's chance to prove his value to the team in a true shut-down role.

Jason Spezza Spezza showed his leadership this week, leading the team offensively and playing respectable defence, too. He had four points (1G, 3A), and just looked like a guy who was primed and ready for the playoffs to get underway.
Alex Kovalev Does not look like a guy who's primed and ready for the playoffs. He only missed one game officially, but he didn't really play in any of them. His dynamism has been missing since before the Olympics, but maybe he's just saving it all for the playoffs. (We can hope, right?)
Daniel Alfredsson If Spezza showed his leadership, Alfredsson showed him how to do it. The captain had six points (3G, 3A) in the four games, leading the team at even-strength, while short-handed, and while on the powerplay.
Milan Michalek Still injured. Unfortunately for him, the team didn't seem to notice this past week.
Mike Fisher Fisher hasn't really been impressive since the Olympic break. It's perhaps not due to lack of effort, but he only had one assist last week, and the team (and his linemates) are going to be look for him to step up and start hitting the net when he shoots.
Matt Cullen When he was acquired, Cullen was brought in to offer some scoring depth to the team. He had one goal this week, but his influence was felt more on the defensive side of the puck: Some very strong penalty-killing plus his faceoff prowess helped the team get their four wins this week.
Chris Kelly The importance of Kelly and the rest of the third line is going to become greater as the season goes on, and the playoffs get started. Three points (2G, 1A) are awesome from Kelly, and his matchup seems to be one where a game can be won or lost.
Chris Neil See above, really. Where Kelly brings the defensive responsibility, Neil brings the hits; he had 13 through the week's four games. He also was pretty smart with and without the puck, making intelligent dump-ins and strong forechecks.
Jarkko Ruutu I gave Ruutu some love in a few game recaps, but I'll say it again: Anyone who sees him as a one-dimensional pest underestimates him significantly, and does so at their own peril. He's been reunited with Kelly and Neil, and their line is back to their old habits.
Nick Foligno Foligno fell off after returning to the lineup, and now rounds out the forward gang on the fourth line with Winchester and Z. Smith. The line is a fast and energetic one, and Foligno still gets powerplay time, but he can't be very happy with how far he's fallen. He'll have to work his way back to the second line, if he's got any chance of getting there anyway.
Shean Donovan Still the healthy scratch. Still beloved by teammates and fans alike.
Peter Regin Aside from Elliott, Regin probably made the biggest strides this week. He had 3G and 1A, one point in each game, and two of his goals were absolute snipe-jobs past the opposing tender. Right now he's on the top line with Alfredsson and Spezza, and hasn't looked at all out of place.
Ryan Shannon See Biggest losses.
Jesse Winchester Winchester just continued to offer the strong, responsible play you expect from a fourth liner. He had an assist, played a bit of short-handed time, and jumped up in the lineup when Fisher was ejected from the Buffalo game. He didn't really show anything new, but he solidified his place in the lineup.
Z. Smith It was surprising when Z. Smith was called up considering both Shannon and Donovan were sitting in the press box, but he's shown why by bringing his lunchpail to work with him. He works hard at both ends of the ice, and even though he doesn't get much ice time, you notice him whenever he's on the ice--and for good reasons.

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