Zbynek Michalek

Czeching in: After 13-game absence, Michalek returns tonight


Good news on Thursday for the Phoenix Coyotes and Czech Olympic team, as Zbynek Michalek announced he’d be returning from a hip injury that’s sidelined him for nearly a month.

Michalek, who aggravated an existing hip issue just 40 seconds into a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Dec. 17, should provide a big boost to the struggling Coyotes, who have lost four straight and host Vancouver tonight.

The defensive defenseman was averaging close to 20 minutes per night prior to getting hurt and, despite missing so much time, still leads the ‘Yotes with 72 blocked shots.

Michalek’s return is also big news for the Czech Olympic team. Ten days ago, he was named as one of the team’s eight defensemen — and one of just five from the NHL — despite being sidelined with injury.

There were no shortage of potential replacements for Michalek in the Czech lineup, as the team elected not to go with a trio of established NHLers: St. Louis’ Roman Polak, Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl.

In a related move, the Coyotes put defenseman Rostislav Klesla on waivers today.

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat
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As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?

Silfverberg is set to practice again after Torres hit

Jakob Silfverberg
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Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.

The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.

The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:

That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.

Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:

Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.

Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.