It might be nit-picking, but if there was one player I could point to in the great 6-1 win over Detroit that vastly underperformed, it would be Milan Michalek. And for the club’s highest paid player this season, that has happened all too often so far this season.
Jason Spezza, who has previously worked well with Michalek, but so far this season I haven’t seen the chemistry return. Spezza has been on fire lately, but he seems to be on an island of his own and either scores on the power play, or creates chances for himself.
For the Senators to be successful in the long run, Michalek needs to score at a pace of more than 18 goals, which is where he sits right now. The key for him is to shoot the puck, but he hasn’t had more than 3 shots in any game, despite playing with one of the top playmaking centres in the game. I admit I haven’t watched every shift the pair has taken, but Michalek doesn’t seem to be getting himself into position to get quality shots on goal, and if he were to do that, you know Spezza will find him.
Michalek disappeared last season after Spezza was injured, and never really regained form and then suffered an injury of his own. Perhaps all of the knee problems are catching up with the speedy winger and his days of being a 30 goal scorer and first line winger are behind him.
Either way, the Senators need to hold off on a potential contract extension until they know what they have from Michalek going forward. He still does a lot of the little things right, but for a guy making $6M this season, you need more than the little things from a top line winger to be a top contender.
Now, with that criticism out in the open, cue the Michalek hat trick tonight, because that is how things go!