Senators Ups and Downs: Week five

The best week of the season for the Ottawa Senators will naturally correspond with a more-than-usual number of green arrows. With a perfect 3-0 week, including solid intra-divisional wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens plus a good one against the New York Islanders, the Senators have climbed back into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and don't look like the bums people thought they were early in the season.

Biggest Gains: Brian Elliott
Elliott was probably the best Ottawa Senator in each of the three games this week. He saved the Sens when Toronto was coming back, kept Montreal out of the game early, and--even though a 4-1 score might not look that close--he shut down the Islanders effectively, too. Only one of the goals allowed were questionable, and even that one was a knuckler. Goaltending is not a problem for Ottawa right now.

Biggest Losses: Mike Fisher
It didn't take much for Fisher to get tabbed with the biggest loss this week, but still: Only one point (a goal against the Leafs), just four shots on net in three games, and he was only credited with one hit through the week. Fisher has always been a streaky player, but this week he wasn't just not scoring, he wasn't doing the things that he usually does to be effective. Despite playing with Daniel Alfredsson.

(read on for the full rundown...)

Goalies Trend Notes
Brian Elliott See "Biggest Gains".
Pascal Leclaire He's back from injury, but Leclaire's playing second fiddle to the hot hand right now, riding the pine while Elliott plays show-stopper.

Filip Kuba There were rumours he'd be back Saturday against the Habs, but Kuba is still working on rehabbing that broken leg. Should be back soon, though.
Chris Phillips Huge rebound week for Big Game Chris. He seemed to get back to basics and allow partner Sergei Gonchar to worry about the offence between the two of them. And he's bringing it physically, knocking back ten hits in the week.
Sergei Gonchar Two goals, two assists, and a coming-out party for Sarge. He looks like he 's getting comfortable playing with Phillips at even-strength and Erik Karlsson on the powerplay, and his work with Alex Kovalev with the man-advantage was really something.
Brian Lee Still keeping Bruce Garrioch company in the press box. May never play another game this season, barring an absolute emergency.
Erik Karlsson We all know Karlsson lives dangerously. Nowhere was this more evident than the last minute of play against the Islanders, when his carelessness led to back-to-back short-handed breakaways. But he also put up 1G and 3A, and looked a lot more comfortable in the defensive end this week.
Chris Campoli Solid, steady play from Rusty. It's remarkable how comfortable he's become with Carkner. He even out-hit his partner 5-2 this week.
Matt Carkner Solid, steady play from Carkner. It's remarkable how comfortable he's become with Rusty.
David Hale David Hale scored a goal. That alone is enough for some big ups.

Jason Spezza Spezza played like a man possessed against the Islanders. I've never seen him forecheck as hard as he did when he saw an empty net that night; apparently that fourth point was very meaningful.
Alex Kovalev
The only points he had were the two goals against Montreal, but there's no denying a vast improvement from his early-season play. Kovalev is playing like a man who's realized he'll need to earn his next contract.
Daniel Alfredsson Alfie slowed down this week, scoring just one assist. A lot of that likely has to do with being put on a line with Mike Fisher and Nick Foligno, and some of it might have to do with how much ice time he sees, but right now his offence isn't needed. I think he might as well save it for when it is.
Milan Michalek With Kovalev, Spezza, Gonchar, and Karlsson stepping up, Michalek's offensive presence wasn't really missed.
Mike Fisher See "Biggest Losses".
Nick Foligno Foligno is still looking for his first goal of the season. I can't quite put my finger on why he's not scoring, but he might not need to look any farther than Zack Smith to see how he can: Drive to the net and keep driving until you hear the whistle.
Chris Kelly Aside from some strong play and a goal against the Islanders, it was a fairly unremarkable week for Kelly. He basically just played the sound hockey expected of him, which is perfect.
Chris Neil Despite increased powerplay time, Neil hadn't really done too much in front of the net this week. It wasn't an awful week, but it was a slight down.
Jarkko Ruutu Didn't really see much of anything from Ruutu. Usually he's either getting under the opponent's skin or putting up offence with his linemates, but this week there wasn't either. On the plus side, his defensive play--especially on the penalty kill--was valuable.
Peter Regin Although Regin, like Foligno, is still looking for his first goal of the season, you can definitely see him doing the right things to get it. And his chemistry with Spezza and Kovalev on the first line is undeniable.
Zack Smith A dip after he took a stupid penalty against the Islanders was offset with a lunchpail goal against the Canadiens. Z. Smith comes out even.
Jesse Winchester Barely played 20 minutes combined over the three games. Played well enough. His roster spot doesn't appear to be in jeopardy, which means that Winch is playing well.
Ryan Shannon After getting 1:34 in PP time against the Leafs and having little to show for it, Shannon was bumped back to virtually all even-strength, fourth-line minutes. He's doing fine on the fourth line, but a bit more offensive dynamism wouldn't hurt his standing on the team.

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