Firstly, outside of Erik Karlsson (and this year's version of Craig Anderson), there is no one more talented in the Ottawa Senators organization than Jason Spezza. Kyle Turris has done an admirable job of filling in this season, but Jason Spezza isn't a good player, he is a great player. He has that special next level that allows him to do things no other forward on the Senators can do. He makes his wingers considerably more effective, and I swoon to think of the effect he will have on the ineffectual power play.
But all the hubbub (I always wanted to use that word) about his potential return has raised three questions for me, and I'd love your thoughts on them.
- Will Jason actually return to this series?
This is the big one, right? If the answer to this is no, the other two questions do not matter until next season (or next series, if we make it there). He took part in full practice with a healthy scratch jersey on, and looked good yesterday, days after practicing with the black aces alone. Hell, he even led the stretch. But if you ask Bryan Murray and Paul MacLean (hell, even asking Jason), they will tell you they do not expect him to play, to be back. A series of tweets from @DefenseMinister (a great follow on twitter) will illustrate why we shouldn't take them at their word.
Mar 27th: Cowen skates with team, Murray says they're just throwing him a bone, not close to ready. Cowen plays in game 2 weeks later.— DefenseMinister (@DefenseMinister) May 12, 2013
April 16th: Karlsson returns to practice for 1st time. Says there is no timeline for return. Plays 6 days later. #FoolMeTwiceShameOnMe— DefenseMinister (@DefenseMinister) May 12, 2013
Today: Spezza comes back to practice, takes part in full drills and looks good. Says not even sure he'll be back again. #Trend— DefenseMinister (@DefenseMinister) May 12, 2013
And for what it is worth...
Jason Spezza is skating on the club's extra forward line with Regin & Latendresse today.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) May 13, 2013
2. Who comes out?
Everyone's favourite Twitter game right now, if Jason comes back, who comes out? This has been discussed a little bit on the site already, so I won't go into too much depth, but the options appear to be Cory Conacher, Matt Kassian, Jean Gabriel Pageau or Colin Greening.
For me, I think you cross Pageau off right now. His line with Condra has been spectacular. His speed and ability with the puck will give the bottom lines of the Penguins fits. Personally, Conacher is the same. The Islanders overwhelmed Pitt with speed, and there aren't many players faster. Also, unrelated probably, but CC is 4-0 in the playoffs this year, with 3 goals.
Comes down to Greening or Kassian. I take out Kassian but Mac loves him. So who knows.
3. How effective will he be?
He hasn't played in a long, long time. This group has been functioning so well as a unit, trampling the Habs. But he is our elite forward. If we are to beat a team like Pittsburgh, the whole team needs to be on their A game, but specifically Anderson, Karlsson and Spezza. This man had 5 points in 5 games to start the season with his back so sore he couldn't sleep. Gotta think he makes the team better, even a little rusty.
- How did those playoff predictions go? I love when we fact check these. [SSS]
- Ups and Downs after a very exciting week as a Sens fan. [SSS]
- Mullet continues to win the internet. If you haven't checked out his contests for SensMotB, DO IT. [SSS]
- Scoring Chances from the clinching game five
spankingwin over the Canadiens. [6thSens]
- NHL.com article about the value of Daniel Alfredsson's leadership. [NHL]
- Confidence is high for this Senators group. [SE]
- No timetable for his return, eh? [SE]
- A salute to the fallen Habs from Varada. [WTYKY]