Senators ups and downs: Week Nine

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:

Goalies Trend Notes
Craig Anderson It's not quite "winning in spite of" territory for Anderson, but it's close.
Alex Auld Auld did not get a chance to play this week.
Jared Cowen

Cowen's minutes rose steadily this week, a testament to his improving play. MacLean trusts him.
Sergei Gonchar Gonchar notched an assist against Winnipeg, had a plus-1 rating against Dallas, but went minus-2 against Washington. He was average this week.
Erik Karlsson

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.
Filip Kuba Currently injured.
Brian Lee Got to play due to Kuba's injury and made himself noticed with five hits against Dallas.
Chris Phillips Perhaps the biggest victim of Kuba's injury, Phillips is being forced to play in situations that are no longer his strength.
David Rundblad As Cowen's minutes have increased, Rundblad's have decreased. We're not sure why.
Daniel Alfredsson

Playing with Foligno and Michalek seems to suit Alfie well: he's on a three-game assist streak.
Bobby Butler 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.
Erik Condra

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.
Kaspars Daugavins His contributions on the third line and penalty kill have improved both.
Nikita Filatov See "Biggest losses."
Nick Foligno

Could it be that Foligno is the solution to the second-line center problem? He sure looked the part this week.
Colin Greening Though Greening isn't showing up on the scoreboard, that's not necessarily his role on the top line.
Zenon Konopka 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.
Milan Michalek

See "Biggest gains."
Chris Neil Neil looked rusty in his return to play.
Peter Regin Out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
Zack Smith

Two goals against Winnipeg and no stupid penalties this week? Yes, please.
Jason Spezza

A goal against Winnipeg and an assist against Washington gives Spezza 24 points in 26 games.
Jesse Winchester Led his line with six shots on goal on the week -- but none of them went in.

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