Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators' players for the past week.
The Senators were all over the map this week, posting a wild win over the Jets before turning in a loss to the Stars and an overtime loss to the Capitals. The losses produced some of the most boring hockey Senators fans have seen all year.
They also produced something Senators fans are very familiar with: a comeback win. Unfortunately, Ottawa was on the wrong end of it, as Dallas' Eric Nystrom put home a goal at the 17:40 mark of the third period to give the Stars a 3-2 win. Turns out it's a lot more fun to be on the other end of those.
The team now begins a crucial run of games, most of them at home, against some of the NHL's top teams. In the coming weeks, the Senators will face: Tampa Bay, Washington, Vancouver, Boston, and Pittsburgh. They'll also play the Buffalo Sabres three times this month.
Are the Senators for real? We'll know by January.
Biggest gains: Milan Michalek
Last week, we were worried that he might be cooling off after not converting his chances. This week, he's tied for the NHL goal-scoring lead with 16. Blasting in four goals (including two against Winnipeg) in just three games, Michalek proved he doesn't need to be on the top line to be producing: he did all of his scoring with new linemates Nick Foligno and Daniel Alfredsson. He's a stud.
Biggest losses: Nikita Filatov
Meanwhile, Michalek's replacement on the top line has literally nothing to show for his playing time. He asked for, earned, and got his chance to play top-six minutes. Yet In two games this past week, he has one shot on goal. That's it. It wasn't good enough for head coach Paul MacLean, and it's not good enough for us, either. At some point, if he wants to be considered a top-six forward, he needs to produce like a top-six forward. Otherwise he'll be scratched like he was against Washington.
(read on for the full rundown...)
Here's something awesome:
|It's not quite "winning in spite of" territory for Anderson, but it's close.
|Auld did not get a chance to play this week.
|Cowen's minutes rose steadily this week, a testament to his improving play. MacLean trusts him.
|Gonchar notched an assist against Winnipeg, had a plus-1 rating against Dallas, but went minus-2 against Washington. He was average this week.
|Playing at an All-Star level right now. He's looking as confident without the puck as he does with it. There's not much else to say.
|Got to play due to Kuba's injury and made himself noticed with five hits against Dallas.
|Perhaps the biggest victim of Kuba's injury, Phillips is being forced to play in situations that are no longer his strength.
|As Cowen's minutes have increased, Rundblad's have decreased. We're not sure why.
|Playing with Foligno and Michalek seems to suit Alfie well: he's on a three-game assist streak.
|The Bust got a chance to play on the top line with with Greening and Spezza, but he didn't do anything with that chance. Not showing the chemistry he had with Spezza last year.
|With three points (1G, 2A ) in three games, and outstanding work on the penalty kill, we're not sure what else he could be doing for the team.
|His contributions on the third line and penalty kill have improved both.
|See "Biggest losses."
|Could it be that Foligno is the solution to the second-line center problem? He sure looked the part this week.
|Though Greening isn't showing up on the scoreboard, that's not necessarily his role on the top line.
|Konopka doesn't play on the PK or PP, so when he takes minor penalties (4 PIMs this week), he's not helping his team. Also went minus-1 in a 6-4 win.
|See "Biggest gains."
|Neil looked rusty in his return to play.
|Out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
|Two goals against Winnipeg and no stupid penalties this week? Yes, please.
|A goal against Winnipeg and an assist against Washington gives Spezza 24 points in 26 games.
|Led his line with six shots on goal on the week -- but none of them went in.