(Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week. If you're wondering why it's late, blame The Walking Dead.)
Not a bad week for the Senators, as they grabbed five of the six points possible in their games against Tampa Bay, New York (Rangers version), and Buffalo. They outscored their opponents 14-7 in those three games if you count shootout goals (and we do), so things are running at a nice clip. Of course, seven of those goals came in one game against Tampa Bay, but holding the top team in the conference to one goal isn't a bad feather in your cap, either. This week sees the Senators play just three games again, all against division rivals: a home-and-home with Montreal, and then a Saturday game against Toronto. The Canadiens are last in the conference, while the Maple Leafs are clinging to fading playoff hopes.
This stretch of games may represent Ottawa's best opportunity to pick up six points for the remainder of the year. The opportunity to do it at the expense of bitter division rivals just makes it that much sweeter.
Biggest Gains: Ben Bishop
His play hasn't been as electrifying as that of the man he replaced, Robin Lehner's Dad's Son, but he has been steady enough to give the team a chance to win every game he's played, and as noted above, they've recorded a point in every game that he's played. There's no argument that Craig "Master Chef" Anderson gives the team its best chance to win in the playoffs, but the job of a backup is to provide stability in net while the starter is out. Bishop is doing exactly that.
Biggest Losses: Matt Carkner
Seems like he's been permanently scratched at this point. We're not blown away by Matt Gilroy's audition so far, but the fact that the team is not willing to give its most physical defender a chance to find his game prior to the playoffs is unfortunately very telling about what they think he can do for them for the rest of this year.
(read on for the complete rundown...)
|His recovery is reportedly coming along well, but with the strong play of Lehner and now Bishop, there's thankfully no hurry.
|He has to be dreading Anderson's return to health; it may mean a trip to the waiver wire.
|See "Biggest gains"
|See "Biggest losses"
|Cowen's play continues to improve. With the playoffs around the corner, this is a good sign.
|He's as lukewarm as Brian Lee to us.
|Played a great game against Tampa Bay, but was just average in the other games.
|Three goals (including two against Buffalo) in three games... from a defenseman.
|You know who's been quietly awesome this week? Filip Kuba, that's who.
|He was a plus-3 this week, which is not bad for a third-pairing guy.
|Just two assists this week. Slow week for Alfie.
|Scratched. For an AHL player. Not good.
|Snapped a 1000-game goalless drought.
|Back in the lineup, but his contributions aren't really the type that wind up on the scoresheet.
|Had a goal and an assist this week, but we were disappointed that his brother, rookie Marcus, appeared to be the better Foligno when they went head to head. Also, he did not fight his brother when he had the chance. What's that about?
|Went from not fitting anywhere to a Gordie Howe hat trick upon being restored to the first line.
|Seems to be fitting well on the second line, and got his first point, an assist, to boot.
|Just a depth player in case of injury these days.
|Scored one of the lamer hat tricks against Tampa Bay, but he has five points (3G, 2A) in three games as his career year continues.
|Neil's services were not terribly needed this week, which is good, because he didn't really provide them.
|Has taken the third line center role from Z. Smith.
|His struggles continue. Despite scoring a goal and having an awesome fight against the Rangers, he played just 10:43--the lowest of any Senator--against Buffalo. Consistency is clearly the issue here.
|He's just riding Michalek's coattails!
|Put together a little two-game goal scoring streak there. Looks confident with Klinkhammer on his wing.