Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators over the past week.
And, we're back! We took Christmas off because we were lazy, but the Senators still played some games. This stretch will have a major impact on their playoff hopes, so in a sense, all their games this month are "must-wins."
So, how'd they do? All things considered, pretty well--they got four of six possible points. After getting hammered by Montreal, they responded by staging comeback wins against Calgary and Buffalo on back-to-back nights. It's nice to see that level of determination in such a young team.
Still, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows: The team managed to lead their opponents for just 3:26 of 170 minutes played. In fact, you'd have to go all the way back to the first period of the game against the Florida Panthers (which also wound up going to overtime) more than a week ago to find any kind of sustained lead from the team.
It's great to know the Senators have it in them to gut out a win when they're losing. But are the kind of team that can get a lead consistently? 2012 will tell us one way or another.
Biggest gains: Daniel Alfredsson
Come on. Did you see the way he got his 400th goal? Laser slap shot one-timer in overtime for the game winner? Alfie is awesome. Enough said.
Biggest losses: Alex Auld
Coming to relieve Craig Anderson against Montreal last Monday, Auld allowed the goal that made it 5-1 Canadiens a little less than four minutes after he started playing. Coming in to relieve Auld against Thursday against Calgary, Anderson allowed no goals, and the Senators rallied to win the game in overtime. See how that works? We know that taking over in a 4-1 game is a tall order, but Auld did his teammates no favors this week. He was supposed to give Anderson a breather in advance of a crucial stretch of conference games and he couldn't even do that.
(read on for the complete rundown...)
Ok, I believe you
|Alex Auld||See "Biggest losses"|
|Craig Anderson||He bombed against Montreal, but helped his team win the next two games, which balances out such a bad performance.|
|Matt Carkner||Scored a great goal against Buffalo. Not much else you can ask of him, as he was even on the week.|
|Jared Cowen||Fell back to Earth a little bit this week. Though it's not all his fault -- the return of Gonchar and Kuba has limited his minutes -- we'd still like to see him do more with those minutes. Life is supposed to be easier on the second pairing.|
|Sergei Gonchar||Had two assists in two games before Turris gave him the old Mike Fisher treatment in the warm ups of the Sabres game.|
|Erik Karlsson||Probably would have been the week's biggest gainer if not for Alfie's historic goal: 20 shots on goal in three games, an assist, an outstanding individual effort for a goal, and some great defensive plays -- though it is worth noting that he was not particularly good in the loss to Montreal.|
|Filip Kuba||It may not be a coincidence that the uptick in Karlsson's play coincides with the return of Kuba, though he had a quiet week himself.|
|Brian Lee||Brian Lee is not awful. That's about all there is to it. Kudos for his fight in against Montreal!|
|Chris Phillips||He had an assist against Calgary, like Brian Lee. But the difference is that the team looked lost when he wasn't in the lineup against Montreal.|
|Daniel Alfredsson||See "Biggest gains."|
|Bobby Butler||Two posts and the shootout winner against Buffalo. But nothing else on the week.|
|Erik Condra||Like Butler, Condra had a great game against Buffalo but didn't have much of an impact the rest of the week.|
|Kaspars Daugavins||Playing fourth line minutes, he's not going to get a chance to make much of an impact.|
|Nick Foligno||Scored a goal against Calgary and hit a post against Buffalo.|
|Colin Greening||Needs another demotion to get going again.|
|Zenon Konopka||We said it for Winchester last week: Minus-2 is not okay for a fourth-line player. And he picked up two game misconduct penalties in the same game against Buffalo.|
|Milan Michalek||Hasn't found his groove since returning from a concussion.|
|Chris Neil||Two points (a sweet breakaway goal and an assist) in three games from Neil. He had a good week.|
|Peter Regin||Out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.|
|Zack Smith||Three points (two goals, one assist) in three games. That's worth a stupid penalty or two.|
|Jason Spezza||Just one point (a goal) in three games, and two uncharacteristic penalties against Buffalo. He played well against Calgary, but overall Spezza wasn't helping his team much this week.|
|Kyle Turris||Just one assist this week.|
| Jesse Winchester ||Out indefinitely with a concussion. |