Senators ups and downs: Week 24
(Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week.)
Things looked really ugly for the Senators this week. They lost to New Jersey's backup, Johan Hedberg, 1-0, and then were single-handedly destroyed by Erik Cole's first period natural hat trick in Montreal. The team managed just one goal in those two games. The power play again did nothing, the team looked out of synch, and head coach Paul MacLean had resorted to putting Colin Greening on every line just to try to spark anyone. Meanwhile, as the losses piled up, the Buffalo Sabres and Washington Captials were putting together hard charges for the 8th seed. Suddenly the Senators' concerns weren't about winning the division, but about simply making the playoffs.
An 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins helped relieve the sense of panic. It featured goals from a ton of players, including two on the power play, and served as a reminder of what the team is capable of when things are going right. It was also the Penguins' first regulation loss in 15 games. All in all, a quality win, something the team desperately needed to get their confidence back.
Biggest gains: Nick Foligno
No one was very good this week until Foligno joined Turris and Alfredsson on the second line. Then, against Pittsburgh, the trio combined for nine points. That's pretty good. Maybe Foligno wasn't the spark for the team--many players did well against Pittsburgh--but he was the spark for his line, and it was his line that won the game. If they can keep it going, Foligno's impact will wind up invaluable.
Biggest losses: Matt Gilroy
Played his way out of the lineup. There's not much more to say. Gilroy's time with the team has been nothing short of a disaster, and it's hard to imagine him getting significant time down the stretch. The Senators traded Brian Lee to get a look at Gilroy. They got their look, all right.
(Read on for the full rundown...)
|Craig Anderson||Deserves a green arrow for his play against the Penguins, but deserves a red arrow for his play against the Canadiens. We'll meet in the middle.|
|Alex Auld||An injury to Bishop may mean a stay of execution for Auld, but frankly, we'd rather have Lehner if Bishop is out.|
|Ben Bishop||Yikes. Played well against New Jersey, but was shaky against Montreal and Pittsburgh before going down with what looked like a knee injury.|
|Matt Carkner||Didn't think we'd see him again this year, but he has to be better than Gilroy, right?|
|Jared Cowen||Some silly pinches against Pittsburgh, but overall, we really liked his performance this week.|
|Sergei Gonchar||Loved his goal against Pittsburgh. Indifferent to the rest of his play, which is actually a huge improvement over last week.|
|Matt Gilroy||See "Biggest losses." Try not to pile on the kid; it's not like he's not trying.|
|Erik Karlsson||Tough week for the youngster. Between his sticks exploding and some rough defensive zone coverage, he'd probably like to forget these games as soon as possible.|
|Filip Kuba||We're warming to the idea of re-signing him. Does that make us crazy?|
|Chris Phillps||We rarely give green arrows based on single-game performances, so believe us when we say we were tremendously impressed with the leadership he demonstrated against Pittsburgh.|
|Daniel Alfredsson||Speaking of Leadership...|
|Bobby Butler||Spent the week scratched. He's really not better than Klinkhammer?|
|Erik Condra||Two breakaways, no goals. Oh, Anacondra.|
|Kaspars Daugavins||Got to play against Pittsburgh and was quite noticeable on the penalty killing unit, in a good way--the Penguins went 0-for-4.|
|Nick Foligno||See "Biggest gains."|
|Colin Greening||Looked more comfortable on the power play unit than Neil has.|
|Rob Klinkhammer||Not sure what he's bringing to the team except an awesome name.|
|Zenon Konopka||Oh, boy. Part of the problem with Konopka is that he has a reputation. For better or worse, the NHL is a reputation league. That means Konopka has to pick his spots better, because he's going to draw extra penalties based on his reputation alone--and that simply doesn't help his teammates. Unfortunately, he didn't pick his spots well this week.|
|Milan Michalek||Got his first goal since his hat trick. How long ago does that game feel?|
|Chris Neil||Two misconducts against Montreal. How can you help the team when you're not even on the ice?|
|Jim O'Brien||Just kind of plugging along, which is all you can ask of him.|
|Zack Smith||The same, except you can ask more of him. He's shown that from the beginning of the season.|
|Jason Spezza||Didn't play against New Jersey, then recorded Ottawa's only goal against Montreal, and a goal and assist against Pittsburgh. That's pretty impressive considering everything on his mind these past two weeks.|
|Kyle Turris||Showed he can't carry the load when Spezza is out, but also showed his potential against Pittsburgh--Turris frequently drew the assignment of handling Crosby.|