SENATORS: A Week in Review – January 16-22, 2017
SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column
looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators
hockey written by #OLMSports Dave Gross.
Here we sit at the halfway point of the NHL's regular season for the Ottawa Senators.
Summing up the first half? Have to give the team as a whole a thumbs up and a passing grade.
From an individual perspective, let's delve into the players that have this team – some would say, surprisingly – contending for a playoff spot.
Craig Anderson (A): He's been away for large chunks of this season tending to a family matter as his wife battles cancer, but when Anderson has been in uniform an argument can be made he's been the team's most valuable player. Anderson is rarely beaten for a soft goal.
Mike Condon (A-): Condon's taken over in Anderson's absence and the former Hab has delivered – night after night. Heading into the year, Andrew Hammond was targeted as the backup to Anderson but Condon's grabbed the mantle, and then some.
Mark Borowiecki (C): Borowiecki is what he is – a physical blueliner with restrictions. He sometimes gets caught up with trying to play past those limitations.
Cody Ceci (C-): More was and is expected of the former first-rounder. An offensive star with the neighbouring 67's, Ceci has but one goal through the first 41 games.
Erik Karlsson (A): Maturity has kicked in here in a big way. Karlsson's game – once a one-trick pony – is now well-rounded. His minutes are down under head coach Guy Boucher but his defensive play and shot-blocking are well up.
Marc Methot (B+): The Ottawa native thrives playing alongside Karlsson. The one takeaway is his tendency to get injured. An integral component to Ottawa's second-half success.
Dion Phaneuf (B-): Once labeled as the league's most overrated player (two years running in a player's poll), Phaneuf has settled into a less prominent front-line role with Ottawa. He can be exposed by the NHL's speedier teams and at times has trouble keeping pace. At a lusty $7 million per season, that's a ton to pay for a 3-4 defenceman.
Chris Wideman (B): Ottawa's 'sixth' d-man has proven to be trustworthy. Might be a target for Las Vegas in the upcoming expansion draft.
Derick Brassard (C-): Underwhelming stats (eight goals, 20 points) and a propensity for being invisible on certain nights, more is needed from the speedy forward.
Ryan Dzingel (A-): Game after game, has there been a more consistently effective performer? The numbers aren't chart-topping (one more point than Brassard), but the ability to skate and compete certainly are.
Mike Hoffman (B): Armed with a new contract, Hoffman's played fairly well and should be on target for 25-30 goals.
Chris Kelly (B): Ottawa knew what they were getting when they brought Kelly back – steady and reliable.
Curtis Lazar (D): Twenty-one games played and zero points? The pundits who claimed he was the "steal" of the first round of the 2013 draft have suddenly gone into hiding.
Chris Neil (B): Neil has fine-tuned his game and physique to fit in well in the 'new' NHL.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (B-): The grade would certainly be higher if Pageau was given a more important role. We'd love to see what he could do playing alongside more offensively talented folks.
Tom Pyatt (B): Boucher's guy was brought in for a defensive presence and he's delivered.
Bobby Ryan (D): Ottawa's highest-paid skater, Ryan seldom delivers the goods. The Sens are on the hook for five more years after this one at $7.25 million per. Ugh.
Zack Smith (C+): Maybe a bit harsh in the grading but Smith gets a lot of ice-time.
Mark Stone (B+): The king of the takeaway is on pace for another strong offensive season. His solid and responsible defensive play sometimes gets overlooked. It shouldn't.
Kyle Turris (A): You think the good people running the Arizona Coyotes aren't kicking themselves over this steal? Consistently Ottawa's best offensive threat, Turris flourishes facing off against the opposition's best skaters.
WEEK THAT WAS:
Thursday: Ottawa 4, Pittsburgh 1
Saturday: Toronto 4, Ottawa 2
Tuesday: Ottawa at St. Louis (8 pm)
Thursday: Ottawa at Columbus (7 pm)
Saturday: Ottawa at Toronto (7 pm)
Sunday: Columbus at Ottawa (5 pm)