Morning skate update: Senators hope Spezza provides ‘boost’

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is confident that the return of centre Jason Spezza will provide “an energy boost” in Game 3 Sunday.

Morning skate update: Senators hope Spezza provides ‘boost’
Ottawa Senators Jason Spezza (19) shares a laugh with teammates Guillaume Latendresse (73) and Cory Conacher (89) as they take part in a team practice in Ottawa Saturday, May 18, 2013. Spezza, who has been of recovering from back surger,y is returning to play in game three of Stanley Cup playoff hockey against the Pittsburg Penquins. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is confident that the return of centre Jason Spezza will provide “an energy boost” in Game 3 Sunday.

The Senators are in dire straits, down 2-0 in the best-of-seven second round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, needing a victory to maintain real hope of pulling it out.

While expectations about what Spezza could possibly accomplish after missing almost four months due to back disc surgery, his comeback does change the complexion of the lineup dramatically.

Spezza is expected to centre a line with Cory Conacher on his left wing and Milan Michalek on the right side. Alfredsson will play right wing on a line with Kyle Turris and Jakob Silfverberg. Mika Zibanejad will centre a third line, with Zack Smith moving to left wing and Chris Neil on the right. The fourth unit will consist of Colin Greening, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Erik Condra, but there could be mixing and matching of all of the above as the game goes on.

Spezza was keeping an even keel Sunday morning, trying not to get ahead of himself.

“I just want to play well and help,” he said. “I can’t go in with any concerns. I have to go in with confidence and make adjustments as the game goes on.”

Spezza suggests his timing could be off due to his long absence from game action, but his presence should open up the ice for others.

Turris, who inherited top line duties in Spezza’s absence, says the match-up game changes as the Penguins will likely focus their attention on the Senators number 19.

“Spezza is one of the best players in the league, so many time he’s out there, they are going to have to respect that,” said Turris. “Whether they pay more attention to him or waste more energy on him, he’s always going to get their best matchup. So that’s where I’m going to have to keep working hard to take advantage of that.”

Turris added that Spezza “has got to be one of the best players on the power play in the league, too. He’s a go to guy. That’s going to be huge.”

Alfredsson says with the Senators down 2-0 in the series, it doesn’t matter whether the expectations of what he might accomplish may possibly be too high.

“Expectations don’t matter,” Alfredsson said. “We know what he brings to the team and he brings an energy boost. Is he 100 per cent? Probably not. He hasn’t played in a long time, but he is going to help this team.”

MORE FROM SENATORSEXTRA.COM

Tags: , ,

What do you think? Leave a comment