Senators Ups and Downs: Week 15
Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week.
It was a difficult week. It began with a postponed game due to a tragedy in Boston, and any positive momentum from wins was ruined with a distasteful game against Toronto. Beating two Southeast opponents in the Carolina Hurricanes and division-leading Washington Capitals at least ensures the Senators control their own fate for making the playoffs--they remain three points ahead of the ninth place Winnipeg Jets with a game in hand--but the New York Islanders have overtaken the team for 6th, and the New York Rangers have tied the team in points. The odds of making the playoffs remain in Ottawa's favor, but the odds for final seeding are up in the air.
Biggest gains: Jared Cowen
We were all worried about his hip with a return that was well ahead of schedule, and then he went out and personally bulldozed about half of the Hurricanes' team. The defense as a whole has looked better since he's come back, and that's a good sign for the team as a whole. If Erik Karlsson can also return to the lineup, he's going to have a lot of freedom to run around thanks to guys like Cowen.
Biggest losses: Andre Benoit
Yet again a guy gets a down arrow for nothing more than being a victim of circumstance. Benoit got told to make himself comfortable in Ottawa early on in the season--he was not going to be returned to Binghamton. There was a spot for him because Jared Cowen and Erik Karlsson were lost to season-ending injuries, and Mike Lundin broke a finger. Benoit was eventually able to beat out Lundin for a regular role, and just as that happens, Cowen makes a triumphant return to active duty. Karlsson is rumored to be not far behind. Benoit does everything asked of him and the reward is a spot watching the games upstairs. This game can be really unfair sometimes.
|Craig Anderson||He saved 40 of 43 shots going into the game against Toronto, where he saved just 18 of 22. It was an awful time to have a bad game.|
|Robin Lehner ||Didn't see action this week.|
|Andre Benoit||See "Biggest losses."|
|Jared Cowen||See "Biggest gains"|
|Eric Gryba||No major problems with Gryba's play this week, but how weird is it that against Toronto he had one hit and five shots? You'd expect the opposite given the pace of the game.|
|Sergei Gonchar||Was strong (with two assists) against the Hurricanes and then memorably not as strong against the Maple Leafs.|
|Mike Lundin||Would now have to pass Andre Benoit and Patrick Wiercioch to get back into the lineup.|
|Marc Methot||Soon he'll no longer be the team's best defenseman. Wonder if he's looking forward to less responsibility when his partner gets back? It's not like he's done poorly with more, but maybe he'll be free to be more assertive in his own end.|
|Chris Phillips||Was instrumental in shutting down the hottest forward in the league in Alex Ovechkin, and recorded two assists along the way, but looked much worse against Toronto.|
|Patrick Wiercioch||He hasn't really played poorly enough to come out of the lineup--he had one assist and was a plus-3 against Carolina, and recorded six shots against Toronto--but you have to feel he's the odd man out if Karlsson returns.|
|Daniel Alfredsson||No points for Alfie this week after a strong performance last week. We love watching him play keepaway. We just wish it meant he was able to find an open teammate more often.|
|Cory Conacher||Finally a green arrow. Conacher is on a three-game point streak with one goal and two assists. It doesn't matter that his goal came off a gift from Caps goalie Braden Holtby, because the best players cash in their opportunities. |
|Erik Condra||Condra is noticed more for when he makes a mistake than when he's successful in his role, and that's a shame.|
|Colin Greening||Just one assist for Greening this week. Still, is there a more versatile forward on the team? Greening might be the only player on the roster who can play effectively on any of the four lines.|
|Matt Kassian||Kassian only played one game this week, the loss to Toronto, and cannot be blamed for the loss. It's doubtful a different body would have resulted in a different outcome this time.|
|Guillaume Latendresse||He had a very pretty assist to set up Neil for the game-winner in Carolina, but was scratched against Toronto in favor of Kassian. Still, if he can help generate offense on the third line, that's a positive for the team. |
|Milan Michalek||Another goal and an assist before getting held scoreless against Toronto. |
|Chris Neil||With a goal and 15 hits in three games, and one sick dangle that could have resulted in a second goal, Neil had a strong week.|
|Jim O`Brien||Remains scratched with a change unlikely in the near future.|
|Jean-Gabriel Pageau||Didn't record any points this week, but still won 18 of 31 faceoffs. The idea that a 160lb rookie could be creeping close to a 60% mark is really impressive. His play gives head coach Paul MacLean reason to keep him in the lineup.|
|Peter Regin ||Remains scratched with a change unlikely in the near future.|
|Jakob Silfverberg||Finally got in a sick snipe. Let's hope it breaks his slump.|
|Zack Smith||Z. Smith's play was all over the place this week. Busted heads in Carolina but was killed on faceoffs, then was used as a shutdown line against Ovechkin and killed it on faceoffs, then killed it on faceoffs and threw seven hits against Toronto but wasn't great at shutting down anyone. How do you get a read on that?|
|Kyle Turris||He was strong against the Capitals but not particularly noticeable against other opponents.|
|Mika Zibanejad||What a beautiful goal against Carolina.|