Senators Ups and Downs: Week 20

Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week.

Admit it, when the Ottawa Senators got down 2-0 to the Vancouver Canucks coming off of a terrible performance against Detroit Red Wings, you thought to yourself, "Here we go again." You were ready to give up on the team, trade everyone but Karlsson, and start over. No doubt even in the wake of a 4-2 comeback win, the outcome won't have changed some of your opinions. Which is why you, like me, are not a GM.

There's a tendency among fans to overreact to the most recent situation, and hockey is a business that spans careers--which means reactionary thinking is always going to have you playing catch-up. Two games represent just 2.4% of the season, which is not enough information to make a sound judgment on. In fact, one of the challenges of any season is trying to figure out what the truth is--because if you look hard enough, you can find a slice of the season that supports the point of view you want to see. For instance, from January 2nd to February 6th, the team went 8-4-4. Is that the real Senators? Well... they followed that run of games up by going 0-2-0, getting outscored by a combined 13-3 against the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Is that the real Senators? Well... they followed that up by scoring four unanswered goals after giving up a 2-0 lead against a team that annihilated them 5-2 back in November. Is that the real... well, you get the idea. And sometimes even a season--or multiple seasons--are enough to know what's coming next, as Kyle Turris shows us every game this season.

In the end, the truth is that the Senators are all of those things. They're a young team and they're capable of as wide a performance across the spectrum as you can imagine. Good luck evaluating that and making the best call for the teams' future. It's really just your best guess. But if you choose to make a reactionary move based on what you've seen in the short term, you're guaranteed to fail.

Biggest gains: Clarke MacArthur

MacArthur was the only player with a multi-point game this week, so... winner?

Biggest losses: Robin Lehner

Plenty of candidates this week, coming off of an embarrassing performance against the Wings, but we chose Lehner because it was an opportunity to shine in a big game, which has been his bread-and-butter in his short career. Coming into this season, we've never had any doubts about Lehner's game when the pressure was on. It's when the opportunity to take his eye off of the ball presented itself that we were skeptical, and even that has, by and large, dissipated following last season. So it was tough to see Lehner flop in a golden opportunity, even knowing he got no help from his teammates. It's one game, so it doesn't mean much in the scope of a career (as mentioned above) but it was a game the team really needed Lehner to be better in. He didn't deliver.

Goaltenders Trend Notes
Craig Anderson Tough to evaluate Anderson in a weird outdoor game. The ice was bad and tracking the puck was hard, but he was positionally sound. That's good enough.
Robin Lehner See "Biggest losses."
Cody Ceci So far, every NHL goal Ceci has scored has been a game-winner. That's not a bad way to start a career.
Joe Corvo Barring injury, it seems Corvo has no place on this team.
Jared Cowen Followed up a terrible performance against Boston with a terrible performance against Detroit. It looked to us like Cowen was trying to overcompensate for his previous game, but unsurprisingly, a swing in the other direction leads to the same results. Leaving a position just to make a hit is the kind of play that has Mark Borowiecki playing in the AHL. You'd want Cowen to know better, but it's only his second year--which, really, tells the whole story of his season.
Eric Gryba Someday Gryba and Cowen might be a brutal, physical pairing to play against. But not yet, and Gryba unsurprisingly looked weaker defensively not playing with Methot. Just a reminder that simple only goes so far.
Erik Karlsson Karlsson scored a goal; water is wet.
Marc Methot We know what we're getting when he plays with Karlsson.
Chris Phillips Back from his injury, Phillips was even on the week and had three hits. He's a third-pairing guy on a team with plenty of third-pairing guys. His style of play is more suited to playoffs, which makes him attractive as a rental. Connect the dots and you're a hockey insider!
Patrick Wiercioch Got another game in with Cowen scratched, and continues to show flashes. He's an asset worth further development.
Cory Conacher He tries so hard, but trying hard is a fourth-liner trait, and if Conacher is a fourth-liner, we have a problem.
Erik Condra We remain unimpressed with Condra on the top line with Turris and MacArthur, but maybe he just needs time to adjust. He looked better against Vancouver, earning an assist by doing the smart thing and shooting.
Mike Hoffman Good debut with seven shots on goal in two games, but no points is going to wear thin on head coach Paul MacLean. Hoffman is up to produce. If he doesn't, he's going to get demoted.
Colin Greening Hey, empty-netter! Many will question why the team is paying Greening, but the answer is simple: No team can afford to pay four lines of outstanding talent. Greening is a necessary evil of the cap system. That's just the way it is.
Matt Kassian Did not play this week.
Clarke MacArthur See "Biggest gains."
Milan Michalek Works hard, plays the PK. That's not what you want to say about a top-six guy. If Michalek gets moved at the deadline, is it really a downgrade?
Chris Neil Hockey is not about antics, so we don't enjoy seeing those, though we did enjoy seeing Neil make sure Greening gets the empty-netter. We'll be interested to see if Neil has the same good luck touch as Karlsson.
Bobby Ryan Same number of shots as Hoffman, but Ryan has a goal. Could have easily had more, too, with a little luck.
Z. Smith Z. Smith is a really solid fourth-line center.
Jason Spezza Got to love Spezza's vision. Who else would skip an opportunity to shoot to pass to a rookie defenseman to set up the game-winner? What the Senators really need to do is trade for a guy who wants to shoot all the time so Spezza can just do what he wants to do.
Kyle Turris No points for Turris this week. Up next for Sens fans: Accepting that a center doesn't have to put up a point-per-game to be a top player.
Mika Zibanejad Even with just one assist on the week, we don't feel that Zibanejad looks out of place alongside Ryan. We'd kind of like to see that pairing last for a little longer.

Special thanks to our friend winterion at Japers' Rink for our icons!

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