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.no comments
In somewhat of an eyebrow raising move, the Ottawa Senators recalled Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Binghamton Senators this afternoon. It's unexpected in the sense that Milan Michalek's skating again with the team and many have speculated that he could make a return as soon as tomorrow night in Philadelphia.
Pageau's presence gives the roster 14 forwards, 15 if you count Michalek as being 'close'. To this point, I have yet to see the organization announce an injury or make a corresponding roster move. It's worth noting however that NHL rosters were allowed to expand as of April 3rd at 12 am, so there simply may not be a correlated roster move. There is the likelihood that there is an undisclosed injury or that Pageau could fill in for someone as a game time replacement. Mika Zibanejad was shaken up last night in the third after receiving a blow to the back of his head, but he did have a number of shifts after the incident and was on the ice to conclude the game. Or better yet, maybe Pageau's promotion signifies the end of the Matt Kassian experiment.
Whatever the case, the backstory on Pageau is that he was Ottawa's fourth round selection (96th overall) from the 2011 NHL Draft. He'll be the second pick from the Senators '11 draft class to debut in the NHL - ahead of two of the team's first rounders, Matt Puempel and Stefan Noesen as well as second rounder Shane Prince. A surprising turn of events for a player who was considered somewhat of a surprise during Binghamton's training camp this past fall.
"You know what, everyone has been impressive. I’ve been really impressed with the whole group. We have Jean-Gabriel Pageau from our local neighbours in Gatineau. He played junior there and then got traded last year and finished his career in the Q last year. He has been great. He has stepped up his offseason conditioning with a lot the guys here around Ottawa and it has really helped. He has been very poised defensively; which is kind of a surprise to me because of his age and his size. At this level, he has played in all three exhibition games and he has contributed offensively, so with the injury to Stephane Da Costa, it has given him an opportunity to start the season with us and he made a real case to make it very difficult to make any movements on him (when Da Costa gets healthy)." ~ Luke Richardson speaking on Team 1200's The Drive on October 13th, 2012.
As I noted on Twitter, assuming he dresses and gets into a game, Pageau will become the 14th rookie to appear in a game with the Senators this season.
In his first full professional season, the 5'9", 165 lb prospect had 7 goals and 29 points in 69 games for the B-Sens - good enough to be tied for 5th in team scoring behind Stephane Da Costa, Shane Prince, Cole Schneider and Mark Stone. The promotion is a nice reward for Pageau and it will be nice to get a first-hand look at the player, but nobody should be expecting miracles here.no comments
Now’s not the time to pani…. OH MY GOD THE SENATORS HAVE LOST FOUR GAMES IN A ROW!!!!
Of course the ensuing outpouring of sensationalistic drivel that flows naturally in any hockey mad city. Sports radio exploits it and in many cases, encourages it. blogs, forums, and Twitter thrive on the discussion and dialogue.
Everyone either wants to know what’s wrong with the Sens or has their suggestion for what has gone oh so terribly wrong these past few games.
Given the current circumstances, all this fretting is laughable.
The Senators have spent significant chunks of this season playing without Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson. And the team is somehow miraculously in the playoff picture and they have favorable mathematical odds of remaining there. Every out-of-town hockey fan that I meet, they all say the same thing, “I can’t believe where the Senators are in the standings. They’re overachievers.”
No kidding.no comments
The above footage comes via CBC's Dan Seguin, who according to Sylain St. Lauent just happened upon this skating session by accident at the Sensplex earlier today:
"...after the workout the Canadian women's hockey team. It seems that he fell on Erik Karlsson, who skated under the watchful eye of the consultant Marc Power."
Google Translate is a little crude, but you get the idea. Now Karlsson was injured on February 13, and at the time the shortest timelines for recovery being thrown around were 3-6 months (though others were talking 12 months before he felt 100%). So who knows what to make of this, but you can't help but feel optimistic watching that video.no comments
Cory Conacher has been a name prospect the last year or so, but I can't say I've caught enough Tampa, Norfolk or Syracuse games to give an informed take on his game. So I turned to John Fontana (@Johnny_Fonts) who writes at SBN's Tampa Bay Lighting blog Raw Charge to answer a few questions fans in Ottawa may have. Oh and if you're looking for a more in-depth and detailed scouting report, John has one of those too right here.
1. How surprised were you to see Conacher in the trade Wednesday?
"Gobsmacked" is the way I described how I felt, speaking to friends and publicly on Twitter, regarding the whole deal. "Surprised" just doesn't cut it. Most (if not all) Tampa Bay Lightning fans never saw this coming, no one expected it. No one thought Conacher would be dangled as a trade chip, let alone moved. That goes doubly for me.
2. What kind of player is Ottawa getting?
Besides short? A spark plug. Think of Tampa Bay's Martin St Louis, subtract 14 years, add a little more willingness to jump into a scrum or stick up for himself and you have an idea of what Ottawa is getting. Conacher has the wheels and ability to go places in this league, though the Lightning have been trying to round-out his game in recent weeks (I'll explain that in question 3 and 4).
3. Which part of his game needs the most work?
At times, I think Conacher can be a little careless when speeding into the opponent's zone - and that leads to losing control of the puck or a general turnover. So puck possession could use some strengthening. At the same time. The Lightning were specifically working with him on improving his defensive game. That took him off the Bolts top line combos (next to Steven Stamkos or Vincent Lecavalier) and saw him on the lower lines.
4. Has he been playing noticeably different as the points have slowed, or is it just a matter of the bounces not going his way anymore?
I think there's been a general lack of opportunity for Cory lately with thanks to being demoted to the lower lines (to work on this defensive game). That's also lead to a drop in ice time. Those are both key contributing factors in his production trailing off. If he's turned loose, I think you'll see the points (and goals) come.
5. From what you saw this season, what kind of potential do you think he has?
Let's not just use one season to judge Cory. I watched him in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals in 2011/12, I watched him with the 2012/13 Syracuse Crunch, I've watched him with the 2013 Lightning as well. He's got a fearlessness and ability to go places in this league and be a force. It wasn't a fluke he draws comparisons to the aforementioned St. Louis.no comments
Ottawa went 7-3-2 over the third quarter of the season, and continue to look secure of a playoff spot despite dropping the last two in regulation. There was concern the poor stretch the Senators experienced after losing Karlsson was a sign of things to come, thankfully they've been better than that since. As it stands they're an average to below average possession team with elite goaltending. Curious to see how well they play down the stretch, and of course what kind of matchup they get in the first round (assuming they make it). Wouldn't be thrilled about playing Boston or Montreal...even though I"m sure it'd be great TV.
And this is the scoring chance definition I adhere to when tracking games:
"A scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots (nicknamed the Home Plate), though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score."
The "home plate" scoring chance area can be seen below.
If you have any questions, or need clarification on anything just stop by in the comments.no comments