DENVER -- Just when you thought the news couldn't get much worse for the Senators ...
Centre Jason Spezza, the team's leading scorer, confirmed yesterday he needs some time off to rest an aggravated right hip flexor that has hampered him for the past week.
That means Spezza, who has 11 goals and 32 assists in 27 games, won't play tonight against the Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet) and he's doubtful for Thursday night, when the red-hot Dallas Stars visit the Corel Centre.
It doesn't end there for Ottawa, on a two-game losing streak for the first time this season. Defenceman Wade Redden has suffered a setback that will put off his return from a sprained knee indefinitely.
Spezza has helped to anchor the highest-scoring line in the NHL -- which also includes wingers Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson -- and he'll be sorely missed. The Senators have called up winger Patrick Eaves from their AHL affiliate in Binghamton, though it's possible Heatley could move to the middle.
"I just need some time off," said Spezza, who had treatment before Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames -- a game which he decided to play in only after taking the warmup.
"I'm probably going to have to take a couple of games off and then go from there. It has been bothering me and it might be time to give it some rest. I just haven't been able to do the things that I'm capable of doing out there. I don't have the same jump when I start to skate. There's just not the acceleration when I want to get going."
The timing of these injuries couldn't be worse personally for Spezza or Redden, who are battling for spots on Canadian Olympic team roster. They want to be in the lineup so they can have every opportunity to impress the Team Canada coaching staff.
In Redden's case, he's still considered a lock for the squad that will be named on Dec. 21 in Vancouver because he played at the 2004 World Cup. Spezza is fighting for a spot with the likes of Carolina's Eric Staal and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
"I really wanted to play Saturday night in Calgary," said Spezza. "We are only there once this year and it is Hockey Night in Canada. I probably shouldn't have.
"I'd rather get this taken care of now. Give it some rest and then it won't be nagging me all season."
Senators coach Bryan Murray was amazed Spezza even played.
"When I got to the rink, I really didn't think he would be in the lineup," said Murray. "You could see that he was hurting out there. He shouldn't be out for a long time, but you don't know, either. He is a maybe for Thursday."
Redden, who has missed eight games because of an injury in practice that was only supposed to keep him out a week, had planned to decide after the warmup in Calgary about his status. But he didn't bother skating again.
"He felt like he tweaked something when when he skated (in Calgary)," said Murray. "I know that's disappointing for (Redden) because I know he really wanted to play.
"He's doubtful (for tonight). It's a situation, again, where we're going to have to wait and see when we can get him back."