Spezza being evaluated
Team's refusal to provide info prompts fear injury is long-term
Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean was pressed and pressed on the status of star centre Jason Spezza Wednesday.
He offered little more than Spezza is "still being evaluated" and that he won't be playing against the Montreal Cana-diens Wednesday at Scotiabank Place.
"We'll have an update as it becomes available," MacLean said.
When asked if it could be an injury that sidelines Spezza for an extended period, the Senators coach said, "we're waiting on the evaluation. We don't know."
When the topic of Spezza possibly having an out-of-town expert check out his injury - as was the speculation during Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals - MacLean was again not all that forthcoming.
"I'm not sure. He's being evaluated." The Senators' reluctance to provide additional information - the Senators have said that it's an upper-body issue - is fuelling concerns that the injury could be serious, perhaps related to his back, and that Spezza could be missing from the lineup for a while.
The club leaves Ottawa Thursday for a two-game road trip, including games Friday in Carolina against the Hurricanes and Sunday in Montreal. Will Spezza be along for the ride?
Spezza has had issues with his back in the past. He had surgery following the 2006 season and missed action late in the 2007 season when he hurt his back carrying groceries.
Should Spezza be gone for a lengthy period, making the playoffs becomes a major challenge for the remainder of the lineup. Spez-za had two goals and three assists in the Senators' first five games and finished fourth in NHL scoring last season, with 34 goals and 50 assists.
In the short term, the pressure shifts to Kyle Turris. Turris is off to a strong start, with four goals and two assists, and will start Wednesday's game on a line with Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson.
"He's a guy that you can't replace," Turris said before Wednesday's game. "He's one of the best players in the league. If we have to go without him, we have guys that step up every night. Collectively, as a team, we have to come together."
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Mika Zibanejad experienced a brief moment of confusion following Tuesday's win over Washington. As the exuberant Senators made their way to the dressing room, a rink side attendant pulled Zibanejad aside and told him he was about to be announced as one of the game's stars. "To be honest, I thought she said, 'you're the fourth star.' I was like, 'you've created an open spot for me this game? I didn't know there was a fourth star, to be honest. What was it again?'
Once it was clarified he was the first star, Zibanejad replied "thank you."
"It was big, that kind of shocked there in the beginning, because I didn't hear what she said and it was misleading. But it was fine."
THE KONOPKA RULE?
In addition to the compressed schedule, NHL players are also adjusting to new refereeing standards, including a new penalty for closing their hand on the puck and passing it to a teammate. Erik Condra has learned that the hard way, picking up a "faceoff infraction" penalty for moving the puck with his hands during a faceoff. Kyle Turris says it's an adjustment, but it won't change his game much. "It's made for the defensive zone because guys were winning draws and some guys were really good at it. Z (former Senator Zenon Konopka) last year was unbelievable at it. He was such a good faceoff man to begin with and in our zone, he would be 75 per cent. He is just so strong. They would get his stick and then he would bat it back with his hand. (The rule) is made for that."
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