I never knew when the Michalek’s Anonymous term was coined that it would have such a prevalent meaning before the season was done. So it goes with a warning: before proceeding with this piece, go grab yourself a stiff drink and then come back.
Bryan Murray revealed in an afternoon press conference that Milan Michalek will be out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Within five minutes of the announcement, pundits like Bob McKenzie were already speculating via Twitter that Michalek’s ACL was done when he crashed into net a few weeks ago. He just tried to play with it last night.
And worse, This will be Michalek’s fourth knee reconstruction, if I’m not mistaken. Almost had leg amputated because of complications from one earlier. (Ed. note: Just to clarify, this will be Milan’s 4th knee operation but all of his previous knee injuries were limited to his right knee.)
On the surface, it’s heartbreaking news for Senators fans that Michalek’s injury represents the second time a top six forward will have his season lost to a torn ACL. (Ed. note: Kovalev being the other.) And early last night, he looked like his old self — inexplicably falling all over the ice. However, this news shouldn’t really come as that much of a shock. To see Milan folded up and grimacing in pain on the bench and not take a regular shift in the third period, it didn’t take a genius to surmise that he had re-injured his knee. But there’s something to be said about the hearing the news from the GM that just adds to the finality of it all.
However, I’m not sure whether it’s the deeper thought or the affects of alcohol but there is some reason for optimism here. As much as we want to fellate the depth and talent of guys like Kovalev and Michalek, the bottom line is that these guys didn’t perform particularly well down the stretch. After starting the season on a torrid pace, Milan only scored 6 goals after December 19th and finished the season with a disappointing 34 points. And when Milan injured himself in Atlanta, Peter Regin was moved to the Senators first line and it paid dividends almost immediately.
Here’s my point: He can be replaced for the second time in less than a month. Due to this recent injury, Nick Foligno’s going to assume Michalek’s spot on the second line with Matt Cullen and Mike Fisher and Ryan Shannon will draw into the lineup as a fourth line player. Although it ensures that Cory Clouston will have to roll three lines for the remainder of the playoffs, things aren’t as bad as people are being lead to believe.
Because of the platform and his status as a player who’s headed towards RFA on July 1st, there’s no better opportunity for Foligno to demonstrate that he can be more than a third line player.
Will it happen? I don’t know. At the very least, he’s being replaced with a young, hungry player who scored 17 goals last season. Things could be worse. In the meantime, enjoy a stiff drink or two.