While I am not completely reversing myself or my opinion, I didn’t realize at the time that Spezza going under the knife would take not just one all-star, but two out of the Senators’ lineup. That is because after Spezza disappeared, so did Milan Michalek.
With points in each of the Senators’ first 6 games (2G, 4A), five of them alongside Spezza, Michalek was producing as expected. In the 7 games since Spezza’s injury, Michalek has 1 goal and 1 assist.
I know he is playing with unfamiliar players, but he needs to step up and use his speed to get open spots and the puck will find him. He has been almost invisible, save for maybe one burst per game that shows he is still capable of doing it.
If Mickalek doesn’t score at least 15 goals this shortened season (he is on pace for 8 at the moment), the Senators won’t stand a chance to be in a position for Spezza to help when he returns. Michalek is the key cog, the veteran presence who can be counted on for consistent offense, for the Senators to withstand Spezza’s injury. Continuing to perform like he has been will have the Senators sliding down the standings in the Eastern Conference. You can’t depend on Daniel Alfredsson (at 40 years old) to be the guy every night, and Kyle Turris is still adjusting to being a #1 for the first time in his career.
The Sens will win or lose based on Michalek’s contribution offensively, and right now he isn’t getting the job done.