Out with the old, in with the new.
That’s the strategy Ottawa will employ this evening as it looks to win its second consecutive game against Montreal and keep the series (currently 3-1 in favor of the Habs) alive — veteran Chris Neil, who played in Games 3 and 4, will be dropped from the lineup in favor of Alex Chiasson, who hasn’t played since Game 2.
Neil, 35, was a non-factor in each of the last two outings, and only played 6:06 in Game 4.
Chiasson, 24, fits with the youth movement that head coach Dave Cameron implemented upon taking the gig from Paul MacLean, and continues to push today; only two Senators in the lineup tonight are over the age of 30 (winger Milan Michalek and goalie Craig Anderson).
Meanwhile, the likes of Curtis Lazar (19 years old), Cody Ceci (21), Mika Zibanejad (21), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (22) and Calder nominee Mark Stone (22) continue to see significant minutes.
I hate using a term like slash-gate, but I have a slash-gate update for you.
On Thursday morning, Ottawa announced that Mark Stone — the recipient of a P.K. Subban slash in Wednesday’s series-opening loss to Montreal — has suffered a microfracture in his right wrist, and that his availability for the rest of the series is unknown.
Stone, Ottawa’s star rookie, got caught with the slash midway through the second period and left the game momentarily, but did return and finished with over 15 minutes of ice time.
Losing him would be a major blow.
Since Jan. 1, only four players have scored more points than Stone’s 44 — John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn and Sidney Crosby. It gives you an idea of the level Stone’s been playing at and how important he is to the Sens, especially after they dropped Game 1.
Stone didn’t skate with Ottawa on Wednesday as Milan Michalek took his spot on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Alex Chiasson took Michalek’s spot alongside Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad, which meant that Chris Neil drew into the mix and rushed on the fourth line.
As for Subban, he won’t face any supplemental discipline from the league and, per reports from this morning, Sens head coach Dave Cameron won’t be fined for his threats of retaliation against Montreal for the slash.
The Ottawa Senators’ luck might not just be reserved for the regular season.
They’ve been taking it to the Montreal Canadiens early on in Game 1, and they were rewarded much to Andrei Markov’s chagrin, as Milan Michalek got credited for the tally on this own-goal:
Oof, that has to sting. Apparently Carey Price was non-too-pleased about that gaffe:
Plenty of jokes came from this one, including an ode to former Edmonton Oilers defenseman Steve Smith and his notorious blunder.
For Markov’s sake, it’s at least a far less crucial time.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf and starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier have elected to skip next month’s World Hockey Championship.
Phaneuf is still dealing with a right hand issue, which forced him to miss 12 games during the season. On Monday the Leafs captain noted his hand was still slightly swollen.
The 30-year-old suffered the injury during a January fight with Senators’ forward Milan Michalek.
Bernier told reporters following Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens that he was considering Hockey Canada’s offer to represent the country overseas.
During Monday’s locker cleanout, the 26-year-old said he’s decided not to go due to both an undisclosed injury and the uncertainty surrounding his contract. Bernier is set to become a restricted free agent this summer.
James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Rielly could be headed to the Czech Republic.
Van Riemsdyk told reporters he’s considering an offer to join Team USA while Rielly is awaiting the results from an MRI.
The red-hot Ottawa Senators are getting a key piece of their lineup back for the postseason.
On Monday, head coach Dave Cameron confirmed that veteran winger Milan Michalek — out since Mar. 21 with a concussion — will return from an 11-game absence and dress for Game 1 of Ottawa’s first-round series against Montreal.
Michalek, 30, had just 13 goals and 34 points in 66 games this season, but really started to find his form in February and March following a slow start to the campaign. He scored 18 points over his final 22 games of the regular season, that after scoring just seven in his first 22.
With Michalek drawing it, Zack Smith will sit for the series opener on Wednesday.