The Ottawa Senators enter the third week of their NHL season with a 1-3-1 record, good for three points and thirteenth in the Eastern Conference above only Buffalo and New Jersey. Who would have thought those would be the bottom two teams, huh? Anyway, that tells us not to get too worked up about the standings. There's 77 games left, and it's still too early to draw any serious conclusions about any team yet. With that said, let's look at the Sens' risers and fallers after their second week of play.
Biggest Gains: Brian Elliott
Pretty straightforward here. With starter Pascal Leclaire injured, Elliott stepped in last Thursday to lead the team to its first win, then started in Montreal and despite giving up a stoppable first goal, played well enough to give his team a chance to win. Frankly, that's an understatement, because Elliott turned in a great game after the first goal. He's the biggest gainer because he has another chance to seize the starting goalie job and run with it. He looked capable of doing so in his first action of the regular season.
Biggest Losses: Alex Kovalev
Demoted to the fourth line, and deservedly so, Kovalev is now dragging his linemates Peter Regin and Ryan Shannon down with him. His complete disinterest this past week has been absolutely horrifying to watch. I am not a detractor or defender of Kovalev, but his effort level is the lowest it's ever been in a Senators jersey. On a team struggling like the Sens currently are -- especially on the power play -- a five million dollar passenger is the last thing they can afford to have. Again, it's early, so we should not rush to judgment, but I will say this and stand by it: The only difference between Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo right now is their salary.
(read the full team's rundown...)
|Brian Elliott||See "Biggest gains."|
|Pascal Leclaire||Out indefinitely with a groin injury. Who had four games in the Leclaire injury pool? |
|Filip Kuba||Still injured. The Senators could |
|Chris Phillips||His defensive play has improved since last week, and that probably has to do with being paired with Sergei Gonchar, but Phillips was again responsible for letting in a GWG through what can only be described as a brain fart play. |
|Now a minus-one after five games, Gonchar still has no points on the power play, and the team's lone power play goal was the result of Mike Fisher shooting the puck really hard off a drop pass and not anything of Gonchar's doing. His play in other areas of the game is very sound, however, and the points are coming. |
|It's sad that we're excited when a top-10 pick plays a simple game and just doesn't make mistakes. That said, Lee's game improved this week, strangely by playing with Erik Karlsson. Still should be scratched when Kuba returns. |
|Erik Karlsson||Karlsson's play has improved over the past week, and he contributed a goal in the loss to Montreal. It still leaves a lot to be desired, but if he continues, we should see a green arrow here next week. Still not lacking in confidence, and that's good. |
|Chris Campoli||Fell back into his old place with Matt Carkner due to pairing shuffles. Campoli-Carkner was a dependable third pairing last year, and seems to be a dependable -- but by no means ideal -- second pairing this year. Currently, his deceptive minus-four rating keeps him from being marked as a gainer. |
|Matt Carkner||Outside of Gonchar, Carkner was the team's best overall defenseman this past week. His game Saturday was filled with smart pinches and plenty of physicality, and he unfortunately was on the ice for three goals against as a reward. |
|Jason Spezza||Now tied for the team lead with four points (1G, 3A), Spezza is averaging a point a game. |
|Alex Kovalev|| ||BLACK DOOM ARROW! See "Biggest Losses." |
|Daniel Alfredsson||Alfie's game has picked up. Tied with Spezza for the team points lead (4A), the captain's playing like we're used to seeing him play: intelligent and hardworking. Was not bothered be a "lower body" injury.|
|Milan Michalek||What a difference a week makes. Easily the team's biggest gainer outside of Brian Elliott, Michalek recorded three goals in two games, including a two-goal night against Montreal. While his speed is not all there yet, he's still got some moves and he's not scared to go to the net. The results are speaking for themselves. |
|Mike Fisher||Now anchoring a second line with Nick Foligno and Chris Neil, Fisher seems to have taken the change as a personal challenge to show everyone how intense he can be. Forechecking, hitting, and shooting with reckless abandon, this is the Mike Fisher the team needs. |
|Nick Foligno||Foligno hasn't been showing up on the score sheet and that's worrisome after his red-hot preseason, but he is doing everything asked of him on Fisher's wing. It's not time to move him yet. |
|Chris Kelly||Taking Neil's promotion to the second line in stride, Kelly hasn't missed a beat with his new wing, Jesse Winchester. Kelly is playing like an ideal third line center these days. |
|Chris Neil||Earned his promotion to the second line. Neil's willingness to fight for the puck makes him an asset playing with Foligno and Fisher. He's going to be the lowest scoring top-6 forward in the NHL during his stint with those guys, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to have a place there. |
|Jarkko Ruutu||Needs to tone it down. His biggest contribution this week was giving Montreal three power plays. Got benched for his antics, and rightfully so. |
|Peter Regin||Regin has done what he could with his linemates. Shannon is giving it all he can; Kovalev... not so much. Still, this is a line that has shown chemistry in the past. His effort level is there every night, but what remains to be seen is if he is capable of elevating his teammates with his skills. |
|Zack Smith||With Ryan Shannon and Jesse Winchester playing well, Z. Smith has taken his lunchpail to the press box. |
|Jesse Winchester||Unsurprisingly, the player who has shown a willingness to hit anything that moves got the bump to fill Chris Neil's spot on the third line. Somewhat surprisingly, Winchester doesn't look out of place there. |
|Ryan Shannon||Shannon made the most of an opportunity, scoring a beautiful goal after getting put in for the scratched Z. Smith. His effort level has not dropped since then, and he is earning his minutes right now. As always, the question with Shannon is "How long will it last?" |
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