After first healthy scratch, slumping Michalek returns for Sens

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.

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