Senators ups and downs: Week Eight

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

The Senators only played two games this week, a scheduling quirk we can't begin to explain. Thanksgiving (in the United States, where most NHL teams are located) came at the end of the week, so if the intent of the schedule makers was to give players time off to spend the holiday with their families, they messed up: Ottawa played the day after the holiday.

The team was buzzsawed by a Pittsburgh Penguins team buoyed by the return of Sidney Crosby, who has been playing at a superb level since his return from a concussion. Crosby helped power the Penguins to a 4-1 lead before 10 minutes had passed in the first period, a deficit this young team is not yet capable of overcoming.

As has been their personality through the season, though, the team bounced back with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. After the quarter-pole, the team remains above .500, and that is more than anyone might have expected at this point in the season.

Biggest Gains: Nikita Filatov
Probably no player has had more discussion around him in the past few weeks. Is he unhappy in the AHL? Will he return to Russia if he doesn't get NHL playing time? Does he deserve top-six minutes for the Senators? It's been an adventure for Ottawa's investment so far this year. Senators GM essentially told Filatov to prove it, and he responded with back-to-back three-point games (3G, 3A) for the Binghamton Senators. That was good enough to get the call to the big club on Sunday, even though it meant playing his fourth game in four nights. Filatov has been clamoring for a chance. Now he has one.

Biggest Losses: Stephane Da Costa
Da Costa started the season very well, outplaying first round pick Mika Zibanejad by light years and earning fan adoration for his sneaky puck-stealing skills. That player has long vanished, and based on recent comments from head coach Paul MacLean, it was obvious that Da Costa had lost the trust of his coaching staff. His minutes continued to dwindle, and after playing a paltry 7:23 against Pittsburgh, the writing was on the wall. He was sent down to Binghamton on Sunday, clearing the way for the aforementioned Filatov. Da Costa has plenty of talent, but it's clear he was overwhelmed playing such a critical role so early in his career. Developing on the B-Sens will be a long-term positive for him, even if the demotion is a negative in the short term.

(read on for the full breakdown....)

Goalies Trend Notes
Craig Anderson Absolutely pulverized against Pittsburgh, he bounced back to get the win against Carolina.
Alex Auld Relieved Anderson against Pittsburgh, but it was a lost cause. Auld could not give his team a chance to get back into a game they constantly trailed by three goals.

Jared Cowen Boom: Cowen's slap shot is clearly an underused asset. He now has as many goals as Erik Karlsson and David Rundblad combined despite taking 74 fewer shots.
Sergei Gonchar Like most players, Gonchar wasn't strong against Pittsburgh, but bounced back with a two-assist night against Carolina.
Erik Karlsson Karlsson's 21 points now lead all NHL defensemen. Also, he has played 23 games. Try not to think too hard about the significance of that production or your head might explode.
Filip Kuba Kuba remains quietly strong this season. Notched a significant assist against Carolina.
Brian Lee Lee's first point of the year, an assist against Pittsburgh, was not enough to keep him getting scratched the next game.
Chris Phillps Maybe it was the result of some bad luck, but Phillips did not have a good week.
David Rundblad Finally got his first goal!
Matt Carkner Currently "injured." But really, there's just no spot for him.

Daniel Alfredsson Alfie had an assist against Pittsburgh and no points against Carolina. So, there's that.
Bobby Butler Butler seems to be improving, but can't get off the fourth line.
Erik Condra Really blossoming as a role player. He has the smarts to excel if too much is not asked of him.
Stephane Da Costa See "Biggest losses."
Kaspars Daugavins On a two-game point streak (1G, 1A).
Nikita Filatov See "Biggest gains."
Nick Foligno After notching two assists against Pittsburgh, it looks like Foligno is going to get a shot at being a second line center. That's going to be interesting.
Colin Greening Rather invisible this week. Had a fight in Carolina, but it didn't really spark anything.
Zenon Konopka His fight two seconds after the Penguins tied things up was the beginning of the team's unraveling, but he was dominant in the faceoff circle against Carolina and assisted on Rundblad's goal.
Milan Michalek No points for Michalek despite getting a few scoring chances. Uh oh.
Chris Neil Out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Peter Regin Out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
Zack Smith Z. Smith played a great game against Carolina, building on a decent game against Pittsburgh. But then he takes a stupid penalty with less than two minutes left...
Jason Spezza
May be coming out of his mini-slump, scoring two goals, including his 200th career goal, against Carolina.
Jesse Winchester As much as we like him, he cannot be the solution to the team's second-line center problem.

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