Ottawa lost 22-year-old forward Matt Puempel to a high-ankle sprain that’s expected to cost him four-to-six weeks, per TSN’s Steve Lloyd. In other words, he is done for the regular season, but might still play for the Senators in the playoffs if they get that far. Puempel made his NHL debut on Feb. 21 and has gone on to score two goals and three points in 13 contests.
While Puempel was used sparingly, forward Milan Michalek has been averaging 17:46 minutes per game since the All-Star break and will also be unavailable on Monday. It’s not clear how long Michalek will be sidelined for, but he’s being held out due to headaches, so that’s obviously concerning.
Meanwhile, goaltender Craig Anderson (hand) is hoping to be ready to serve as the Senators’ backup at some point this weekend. A player getting healthy is never a bad thing, but his availability might worry some Senators fans that feel their best chance to make the playoffs is by riding 27-year-old rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond. While Hammond does have a 1.65 GAA and .947 save percentage in 15 games, it was just a couple weeks ago Senators coach Dave Cameron offered a strong endorsement of Anderson.
Would Cameron go back to Anderson if he had the option? It sounds like we’ll find out soon.
In the meantime, Ottawa has some important games to play without Puempel and Michalek.
With the All-Star Game in the books, Leafs coach Peter Horachek revealed that Dion Phaneuf is week-to-week with an upper-body injury sustained prior to the break.
Toronto didn’t provide further details on his condition, but he reportedly aggravated an existing hand injury while fighting Carolina’s Eric Staal on Jan. 19 and then made his condition worse versus Ottawa on Jan. 21, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
If you missed the Hurricanes and Leafs’ captains spar, you can see it below:
He also fought Milan Michalek in the Ottawa game:
Toronto has endured a horrendous 3-14-0 stretch that has added fuel to the speculation that the Maple Leafs might attempt to revamp their core.
Joffrey Lupul and Peter Holland remain day-to-day, but on a more positive note Leo Komarov should be back Wednesday, per the team’s Twitter feed.
It’s been tough sledding for Milan Michalek this year, but he’ll get a chance for redemption on Friday.
Today, head coach Paul MacLean confirmed Michalek would draw back into the lineup for tomorrow’s tilt in Florida. Michalek was a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Tuesday, forced to watched from the press box as Ottawa beat St. Louis 3-2 in a shootout. The decision to park Michalek came after he scored just two goals in his first 20 games of the year — not nearly enough production for a former 35-goal scorer that’s making $4 million annually.
“After the first 10 games you sort out what your best team is,” MacLean told the Ottawa Sun. “The second 10 games you try to play your best team to see what happens and after the third 10 games you need results.
“This [win over St. Louis] was Game 21. You have to play the best players. We say all along that the best players play. When we looked over the first 20 games, (Michalek) and Mika [Zibanejad] were the ones that were out.”
Pretty blunt analysis from MacLean. It’ll be interesting to see if the healthy scratch lights a fire under the 29-year-old Czech; Michalek’s in the first of a three-year, $12 million deal and is on the books through 2017, with a limited no-trade clause.