For the first time since March 8th, Milan Michalek will be back in the lineup for tonight’s pivotal matchup that will help determine the playoff fates for the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils.
Michalek, who has missed 25 of Ottawa’s last 27 games tried to rehabilitate and play through the pain and inflammation that some bone chips in his right knee had created, but eventually he elected to have arthroscopic surgery on March 19th.
The timing of his return could not be better. Having only pushed 9 goals past goaltenders in their past six games (not including Alfie’s EN goal last night), the Senators whatever production Michalek can provide right now. Amongst players who have played in 10+ games for the Senators this season, only Erik Karlsson has a higher points-per-game rate (0.71) than Michalek (0.67). The Sens could certainly use Michalek’s net-front presence on a power play that only has two goals in its last 27 opportunities (7.4%).
There is not any clear indication of who would get bumped from or down the lineup to make room for the player. The nom du jour seems to be Guillaume Latendresse, but we’ll have to wait and see to find out.
I completely understand the complaints at around the time of the surgery that Michalek should have had the procedure from the outset. Fans making the argument that any expectations for success this season were gone the moment that Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza were felled by their respective injuries weren’t without reason.
But, like I wrote at the time…
I can’t blame a player for wanting to delay surgery; especially given the circumstances. His already short-manned team was fighting for a playoff spot, and he wanted to compete and hopefully give the team the best opportunity to win in the interim. The parallels to how his 2009/10 season ended are obvious.
So welcome back to the fold Milan, and if it’s not too much to ask, please fix the team’s goal scoring woes.