Michalek concussion a huge blow to Sens
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|The Senators will not only miss Milan Michalek’s offence. He also plays a lot of important minutes. (REUTERS/Doug Benz)
This is a huge headache for the Senators.
The club has lost league-leading goal-scorer Milan Michalek after he became the NHL’s latest player to suffer a concussion as a result of a collision with teammate Erik Karlsson in the second period of Tuesday’s 3-2 OT victory in Buffalo.
Michalek didn’t suit up Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins as the Senators opened a four-game homestand at Scotiabank Place and there is no timetable for his return, but coach Paul MacLean doesn’t believe the 19-goal scorer will be gone long.
The Senators will not only miss Michalek’s offence. He also plays a lot of important minutes.
“We have to follow the concussion protocol, so right now he’s day-to-day,” said MacLean. “As long as he’s symptom-free he can participate. He felt way better (Wednesday), so we’ll see where it goes.
“Depending how long it is, but I don’t believe at this point it’s going to ruin his year much like the other major injuries he’s had in the past where he’s be put out for months and months. At this time, we suspect it will be day-to-day. It’s disappointing but it’s not devastating.”
Michalek — whose brother Zbynek, a defenceman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, will return from a concussion Friday at Scotiabank Place — isn’t the only player out with a head injury as a result of getting hit by a teammate.
League-leading scorer Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers is out with a concussion accidental knee to the head from Wayne Simmonds. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby accidently ran into teammate Chris Kunitz and is out with concussion-like symptoms.
Nobody is sure how to explain what happened to Michalek.
“It’s a fluke play,” said centre Jason Spezza. “Erik jumps up to cut the pass off and (Michalek) is working hard to get back and they just collide. We just hope it’s nothing serious. He’s tops in the league with goals. You want to see him playing.
“It’s unexplainable, really. It happens a lot. The fact that there’s been three injuries to three really good players is some sort of statistical anomaly. Sometimes it can be tougher to get out of the way of your own guy.
“He’s not trying to hit you and you kind of get caught in that limbo where you don’t know which way the guy is going and some guys collide.”
Karlsson said both players tried to get out of the way.
“Milan came full speed and we both tried to avoid it, but we still collided,” Karlsson said. “Things like that, you can’t do much about. It’s just bad luck, I think. It’s something that’s part of the game. There’s a lot of guys out there and it’s just bad luck we both had so much speed and collided straight on.”
Michalek had managed to stay healthy this season, which was a big reason for his success. He returned late last season after knee surgery and has been one of the club’s best players. He’s always had a good shot, but wasn’t always in the lineup to use it.
Winger Bobby Butler, who has two goals this season, dressed in Michalek’s place.
“That’s big for a lot of guys: Health and confidence,” added Spezza. “When you’re feeling healthy, you’re not thinking about your body, you’re thinking about playing in different situations. We hope this can go away quickly and we’ll see how his recovery goes.”
With only eight days until the Christmas break, the Senators are in the thick of the playoff race, but they need a healthy Michalek back quickly if they’re going to stay there.