Senators lose Michalek, Puempel; Anderson nears return

The Ottawa Senators are going into tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks with an opportunity to move ahead of Boston in the Wild Card race after the Bruins dropped their fifth straight on Sunday, but they won’t have all hands on deck.

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.

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