Just as the team's offense begins to explode, another sniper is welcomed back to the fold.
Winger Milan Michalek will play tonight after missing the last four games with tendinitis in his left knee. When he was last on the ice, the Senators were still struggling to climb out of the league basement, having won only four of their first 10 games and managing a measly 2.6 goals per game.
A little more than a week later and Ottawa has won five of their last six games and has found the back of the net 19 times in their last five games, rising in the standings to a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
What a difference a week makes.
The enigmatic Alexei Kovalev has contributed to the teams offensive surge with five goals in his last six games, and considering that he is only three points shy of recording his 1,000th career point, it would be a surprise if he slowed down now.
Also contributing to the offensive surge is Jason Spezza, who, despite missing five games with a nagging groin injury, has an impressive nine points in eight games, four of which were recorded in Thursday night's win over the Islanders.
And to no ones surprise, captain Daniel Alfredsson is leading the outburst with 13 points and six goals.
"We're definitely going in the right direction," Alfredsson said. "We've improved in a lot of areas and you can tell, too, that we're more poised with the puck. We're not just thinking in terms of 'okay, let's not get scored on' and giving the puck away all the time. That's something that comes with confidence."
Even with a red-hot offense, there is still room for improvement.
Goals have been hard to come by for Nick Foligno, Peter Regin and Chris Neil, all of whom are still looking for their first goal of the season.
Foligno has had ample opportunity on a line with Alfredsson and Mike Fisher in Michalek's absence, but will now have his playing time reduced, playing on the fourth line with Ryan Shannon and Jesse Winchester.
Skating with Kovalev and Spezza, Regin has managed to contribute to Ottawa's offensive success with seven assists in the season so far. Yet Regin seems unhappy with his contributions.
"When you don't get points, you don't get the confidence," said Regin. "Now I've had four kind of cheap assists in the last two games and then everybody thinks I'm playing great. Sometimes it's a tough business, but I think it's going in the right direction."
Michalek had four goals in 10 games this season before leaving to nurse his knee. Rejoining this team on their upswing should only add to their offensive punch.
Christopher Smith runs senspedia.com, an Ottawa Senators wiki site.
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