Sunday, June 28, 2015

Milan Michalek: 3 UD Ice Jersey Cards

I hadn't written about Ottawa Senators winger Milan Michalek since 2010, which is mind-boggling considering he may be the player I have the second-most insert/jersey cards of (after Anze Kopitar), and I'm a fan of his play. It's probably because I'd written him again with more cards to sign in March 2014 and was trying to pace my posts, but since I haven't heard anything in over a year, I might as well move on to these cards, all from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Ice set, usually one of my favourites each year (along with Artifacts):
That's right: three different jersey cards (each with a different-coloured swatch!) of Michalek sporting the San Jose Sharks' millennium-era white (home) uniform, all from the same set.

First, there's card #FF-MM of the Frozen Fabrics sub-set, featuring a teal game-worn swatch:
Then there's the two variants of #FI-MM, from the Fresh Ice sub-set:
These are different themselves in many ways; first, the colours are different - not just the swatches but the card itself: the top one (white swatch) is dark teal on its top half while the one on the bottom is grey with a lighter teal as the separation colour. There's also the fact that the one on top is actually made of see-through plastic (the Ice logo is completely transparent), while the bottom one is a regular cardboard card.

Much has been written about Michalek's perceived drop from a consistent 20-goal man (with a peak of 35 in 2011-12), but it hasn't been from lack of effort of lack of chances; a lot of it was just plain dumb luck, as can be attested from a particular 2-goal, 3-point night in February where he could have had four goals in the first period alone and missed an open net to finish the hat trick in the third, capping off an 11-point-in-13-games stretch, which enabled him to finish with 25 points in his last 30 games.

The 6'2'', 220-pound winger is still fast and hard to get off the puck, and drives the play forward most of the time; his 17 goals in 2013-14 were just three away from the 20-goal mark, which would have registered as a fine season; his 13 goals in 66 games last year is a fine average as well - and one that resembles his postseason output of 15 goals in 63 games; it's just that since he doesn't rack up a ton of assists, not reaching 20 goals nor 40 points looks like a letdown to some.

I don't think he'll reach the 30-goal mark again in this NHL where goals are at a premium and those numbers are reserved for top-line players nowadays, but as a second-liner, I definitely see him flirting with 20 for two or three more years, easily. He's barely 30, after all.

A former All-Star Game starter, he plays for the Czech team internationally, which has garnered him a trio of bronze medals (at the 2002 U-18s, as well as the 2011 and 2012 World Championships). He played at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (where his team finished sixth) and should also be part of the 2018 squad should the NHL send its players; he'll no doubt also take part in the 2016 World Cup - chances are Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and Petr Nedved won't play, so he should be able to get first- or second-line duties on the team.

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