Senators report card

DON BRENNAN and BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

It was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the Senators.

Long winning streaks. Long losing streaks. Injuries. And goalie controversies.

But the banged-up Senators gave the favoured Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle in the first round of the playoffs, taking the series to six games, blowing a 3-0 lead in the decisive Game 6.

So Ottawa Sun hockey writers Bruce Garrioch and Don Brennan, tough taskmasters at times, take a look back at the Senators' season and assign grades to the players.

Class dismissed!

FORWARDS

Matt Cullen: He bounced around from position to position before settling in as a second-line winger. Showed versatility. He was a contributor in the playoffs. B

Milan Michalek: The key to the Heatley deal, Michalek is an offensive player who showed inconsistency. Can play in any situation. Needs to be there every night. B-

Shean Donovan: May have played his final game in the NHL. A good team player, he never rocked the boat. Accepted his role and contributed as much as he could. C

Daniel Alfredsson: The captain leads by example. He was almost a point-a-game player. Never quits and played injured for the final two months of the season. A+

Mike Fisher: Had a tremendous first half, but was slowed in the second. Settled in well and developed chemistry with Cullen. Doesn't quit. Plays to the whistle. A

Jesse Winchester: Only suited up for 52 games and struggled with injuries. Didn't hurt the team and played his limited role well on the fourth line. C

Jason Spezza: Takes the heat. He had a bad start. Later revealed he was playing with a back injury. After the Olympics, he was one of their most consistent players. B-

Chris Kelly: Bounced back with a strong year. Could have been used more when the club struggled with injuries. Did his job and was one of the better players in the playoffs. B+

Chris Neil: There were concerns the Senators gave him too much money last summer. Not many in the league perform the role he plays much better. A solid season. B+

Ryan Shannon: What happened? Signed to a one-way deal, he was a major disappointment. Couldn't stay in the lineup because he couldn't score. Isn't a fourth-liner. D+

Alex Kovalev: He'll tell you he didn't think he had a bad season. Some might say differently. Inconsistent. A bust down the stretch and out for the playoffs with an injury. D+

Jonathan Cheechoo: His NHL career is likely over. He'll need someone to take a gamble next year. Hard to believe how far a former 50-goal scorer has fallen. F

Peter Regin: The "Great Dane" was one of the club's best performers in the playoffs. A meteoric rise, considering he was once clinging to a fourth-line job. B

Nick Foligno: An inconsistent year as he was troubled by injuries. Took a step backward. The Senators aren't sure where he fits on the depth chart. D+

Jarkko Ruutu: Had a career year with 12 goals and 14 assists. Didn't get away from the pest reputation he's earned around the league. A smart player. B

DEFENCEMAN

Chris Phillips: The "Big Rig" did what he was expected to do by playing a shutdown role with partner Anton Volchenkov. He even chipped in with a bit more offence. B+

Andy Sutton: Acquired at the deadline, his chances of returning aren't good. Was physical at times, but had to help this team get out of the first round. C+

Chris Campoli: After returning from a knee injury following the Olympics, he was a solid contributor. A restricted free agent, he knows his role. C+

Filip Kuba: Plays valuable minutes, but fought injuries and inconsistency all season. He was missed in the playoffs. If he's back next year, he has to be better. C-

Anton Volchenkov: Has likely his played his last game in an Ottawa uniform. Gives the same consistent effort every night. Willing to throw his body in front of anything. B+

Matt Carkner: Battled the odds and made the team in training camp. Gave Neil support by providing much-needed toughness on the back end. B-

Erik Karlsson: After spending a month in the minors, the teenager showed his potential sooner than most expected. A quick learner, he'll be in the league a long time. B-

GOALIES

Pascal Leclaire: This year was a disaster. He lived up to his reputation of being fragile and unable to stay healthy. He has a long way to go to live up to expectations. D

Brian Elliott: Only expected to play 20 games, but filled in admirably until playing very poorly in the playoffs. Stole the No. 1 job from Leclaire. He's young. C

MANAGEMENT

GM Bryan Murray: Last summer, had a gun put to his head by winger Dany Heatley. Made the best deal he could and got the Senators back to the playoffs. The GM has started to rebuild the prospects in the organization. B

Coach Cory Clouston: In his first full season behind the bench, he brought structure to the club. Nobody works harder, but he still has lessons to learn. His handling of the goalies has to be called into question. B-


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