When Milan Michalek banged his head off the ice in Buffalo Dec. 13, he led the NHL with 19 goals.
Three weeks later, the Senators winger is in his first four-game slump of the season — and still looking for No. 20.
Michalek, in fact, has just one assist in the four games he has played since returning from the concussion he sustained in a collision with Erik Karlsson.
“I thought was fine,” coach Paul MacLean said after Monday’s 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils. “He had some opportunities. The puck hasn’t gone in the net for him since he came back, but he’s playing fine.”
Michalek was instrumental in the winning goal, stationed at the edge of the crease close enough to keep goalie Martin Brodeur deep in his net and the Devils defence backed up to give Daniel Alfredsson room to move in.
“It’s my job there to be in front so they have lots of space to shoot,” he said. “I did my job, held the D off and Alfie had lots of time to shoot it. He made a great play. It was the same as last time. He’s unbelievable.”
Michalek’s history of injury troubles have much to do with the fact he has no problems working in the heavy traffic.
“I like it,” he said of the area around the blue paint. “Sometimes you get rewarded, you get some rebounds. I’m a big guy, I have to stand there. If you get some crosschecks in the back, it happens. You have to stay with it. I don’t mind.”
While their secondary scoring has stepped up, the Senators need Michalek to get rolling again.
“I know I was the leading scorer when I got injured and I kind of stopped watching (the other guys) because everybody was telling me that,” he said. “I didn’t want to get it into my head. I work hard after I got back, but it just doesn’t go in.
“It’s always hard to come back from injury. I missed 10 days or something. I feel pretty good, I had some chances that didn’t go in but I have to stay with it and hopefully they’re going to go in.”