OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators will find themselves short-handed for the foreseeable future, thanks largely to Philadelphia defenceman Radko Gudas.
The Senators confirmed Wednesday that forward Milan Michalek will be out indefinitely with a broken index finger on his right hand. Michalek suffered the injury as he went to block a shot by Gudas in the second period of a 4-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday night.
The 30-year-old Michalek is extremely popular amongst his teammates and will be missed not only for his on-ice presence, but the contributions he makes off-ice as well.
"You can't replace a guy like (Michalek)," said Senators defenceman Marc Methot. "He's got a lot of experience and he's one of the leaders on this team. He got hurt doing what he does best, blocking some shots. He's really good at running out to the point and getting those blocks and just got hit in the wrong spot from what I understand. Some guys will have to step up."
Gudas proved to be a one-man wrecking machine as he gave forward Mika Zibanejad a forearm shot to the head in the third forcing the Senators to finish the game with just ten forwards. Gudas also had a big hit on Kyle Turris.
Zibanejad is doubtful to play Thursday as the Senators host the Chicago Blackhawks. The Senators were outraged no penalty was called on the play.
"It's frustrating, especially when you see hits like that," said forward Mark Stone. "It's right to the head of Mika so hopefully he feels better and hopefully he's not out an extended amount of time."
While the Senators aren't calling Zibanejad's injury a concussion, it's somewhat distressing to note that the Senators have already lost five players for various lengths of time to head injuries. Clarke MacArthur hasn't played since Oct. 14 and Ottawa is currently without backup goaltender Andrew Hammond due to concussions.
"I don't know if there's much of a trend other than we're just getting some bad bounces," said Methot, who missed three games earlier this year due to a concussion. "Guys nowadays are more aware now when there's something going on. You don't want to mess with it because you've seen what can happen to a lot of athletes who maybe try to come back a little too soon. I would like to think that it isn't something serious going on specifically with our hockey club."
The injuries to Michalek and Zibanejad will create an opportunity for Colin Greening to get back in the lineup. Greening, who has not played an NHL game since March 29., was recalled just over a week ago but hasn't had the opportunity to get in the lineup until now.
"I feel pretty good, it's not like I've been out three weeks," said Greening. "The biggest thing I'll tell myself is to take care of the puck."
Senators coach Dave Cameron says he intends on going with seven defencemen Thursday rather than calling up a player from Binghamton.
Note: Hammond and D Chris Phillips skated on their own prior to Senators optional skate. ... The Senators made their annual visit to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Wednesday afternoon.