Senators Ups and Downs: Week 4

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

What a manic week, huh? Three games, six possible points, and yet... only three gained. And yet... were circumstances just a little bit different, there would be six gained. 47 shots and two posts against Carolina. A Winnipeg team missing its best defenseman, with a bad PK unit, and starting its backup goalie. The opportunities were there, and forces conspired against Ottawa to put those opportunities out of reach. Unfortunately, half of the time, the forces conspiring against the Ottawa Senators were the Ottawa Senators.

Too often this year, the team has been unable to put together a consistent effort for an entire game: A 4-1 lead on the Buffalo Sabres almost evaporates in a 4-3 win. A 2-1 lead (and 30-13 shot lead) on Carolina does evaporate in a 3-2 overtime loss. Inconsistency is the hallmark of youth, and looking over the roster, it's easy to understand why the Senators are suddenly struggling to win games they should win. Experience matters, and there's simply no substitute for it. Injuries have forced the team to lean on its young prospects more than it should, and the results speak for themselves. The bad news is they probably won't go away any time soon, but the good news is that these are the lumps kids must take to improve into true NHL players.

Biggest gains: Ben Bishop

It's rare that we'd give the biggest games to a goalie who lost his only start of the week, but this was not a loss that could be laid at the hands of Bishop. He stopped 36 of 37 shots: that's good for a .973 save percentage, and just slightly better than the .833 he barfed out against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bishop still looked a little jittery early, but this time was able to settle down and keep the game within reach for his teammates. Unfortunately, they didn't come through for him. Regardless, this was a performance Bishop simply had to have if he wanted to see continued ice time this year. Last week we ruminated on how Alex Auld's ineptitude cost him the organization's confidence. If Bishop didn't demonstrate that he could provide a chance to win a game, who knows the next game he would have played?

Biggest losses: Peter Regin

Regin plays his best hockey in, what, three years--and promptly goes down with an injury. The loss hurts even more because the team needed good play from its bottom six to help compensate for Jason Spezza's absence. If he misses any time, the team will be forced to move Mika Zibanejad from the wing to center, which means a bottom six winger--presumably Colin Greening--gets moved into the top six. It's a mess. More importantly, though, Regin continues to give other players opportunities to steal his job. Eventually, someone will.

Goalies Trend Notes
Craig Anderson Gave up two or more goals in every appearance this week. He still spots a 1.49 GAA and a .950 save percentage, which is pretty incredible. And what does it say about the level a guy is playing at when we think he's off his game because he's letting in more than one goal?
Ben Bishop See "Biggest gains."
Andre Benoit Seems to regularly save a goal by diving into the crease like a guy falling on a grenade, but we'd like to see him play the kind of defense that doesn't force him to make a desperation move like that.
Mark Borowiecki Reassigned to Binghamton now that Mike Lundin is healthy.
Sergei Gonchar Who has the flu for five days in the 21st century? What's Russian for "take a DayQuil and friggin' skate?"
Erik Karlsson His defensive play has been better this year and he's in the running to lead the league in shots. Unfortunately, it looks like his play suffers when he feels the need to force things--and he's probably going to feel that way most nights that Spezza's out.
Mike Lundin Played 20 minutes after just one practice. He looks exactly like a third-pairing guy, which is what we were expecting to see.
Marc Methot Looks like he bounced back from a sub-par previous week.
Chris Phillips It's a good thing he's scoring goals, because he looks vulnerable if he's not playing sheltered minutes, and the team doesn't have the luxury of sheltering him every night.
Patrick Wiercioch So, he's just going to make a pass that sets up a breakaway every game, huh?
Daniel Alfredsson Finally starting to look like the Alfie we all know and love. Only that Alfie can score from an impossible angle, right?
Erik Condra Looks like that Germany bounce is starting to wear off.
Kaspars Daugavins Scratched most nights, but does his job when he's called upon.
Stephane Da Costa
TOI after his callup: 7:07, 10:05, 15:16. That last number is inflated due to Regin's injury, but there's no denying he's earning head coach Paul MacLean's trust.
Colin Greening If he hit the net instead of the post, this would be a green arrow. Might have to play in the top six if Regin is out.
Guillaume Latendresse Officially, it's whiplash. Unofficially, for a player that missed most of last year with a concussion, it's a huge red flag.
Milan Michalek Needs to help out Turris more instead of depending on him.
Chris Neil Leading the team in hits. Tied for the team lead in PIM. Second in shots (though 23 behind the leader, Karlsson). Third in goals with 3. Guy deserves the A every night he gets to wear it.
Jim O`Brien He was flying early in the year, but was scratched for Daugavins on Saturday.
Peter Regin See "Biggest losses."
Jakob Silfverberg Strong on the puck, but just one assist to show for it. Say it with me: "Inconsistency is the hallmark of youth."
Zack Smith Two assists in three games, and domination in the faceoff circle before getting annihilated there on Saturday. Right now he doesn't look out of place on the second line, but we all know that can't last.
Kyle Turris Had a three-game assist streak snapped against Winnipeg, but also only had two shots (and two posts) in three games this week, and was below .500 in the faceoff circle against Carolina and Winnipeg. For a guy who was just finding his groove as a true second-line center, it's unfortunate he's not getting an opportunity to just develop for a little bit before the pressure increases.
Mika Zibanejad
Does anyone know what the hallmark of youth is? At least he's shooting a ton, which is good.

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