Spezza wants shot at Ducks

Ottawa Senators forward Jason Spezza is aiming for his return from injury tomorrow against the...

Ottawa Senators forward Jason Spezza is aiming for his return from injury tomorrow against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. (Ottawa Sun File/Tony Caldwell)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

Jason Spezza is getting a chance to see how the other half lives tonight.

The Senators centre will be behind the bench as a Team Orr assistant coach for the CHL's Top Prospects game tonight at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., Sportsnet).

His NHL team hopes to have him back on the ice tomorrow and fully recovered from the chest muscle injury which has kept him out of the lineup for 13 games.

While Spezza had treatment, skated at the rink yesterday and is feeling much better, his status for tomorrow night's game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks won't be determined until he makes it through practice. He'll try working out with his teammates this morning.

"I don't want to say 'Yes' and I don't want to say 'No'. I'll just say, 'We'll see' in the next couple of days," said Spezza last night in a telephone interview. "I want to see how it reacts to being back in practice and I might not be able to decide until after the morning skate (tomorrow).

"I'm doing a lot better. I was skating and working out with (assistant) Randy (Lee) the whole time the team was gone (on its two-game road trip) and that probably helped me a lot ... I've definitely seen an improvement."

But if Spezza's ready to go, then there's a good chance he'll be reunited with linemates Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. They were the league's top scoring line until injuries broke the combination up.

Though Senators coach Bryan Murray used Alfredsson and Heatley on separate lines during road wins over Edmonton and Minnesota, he'll put them back together as soon as Spezza is firing on all cylinders again.

"(Alfredsson and Heatley) didn't play as well apart, but I think when they're together (with Spezza), the three of them are very talented and they get more offensive scoring chances," said Murray in an interview on the Team 1200.

"I think, however, when you go on the road and the other coach has his chance to match his best people against the big line, it makes it more difficult and it puts a lot of pressure on other people to pick it up.

NO LINE REUNION

"In the long run, very definitely, we're going to try to put them back together. Short-term, until Jason gets playing back to 100%, I'm not sure I will put the three of them back together immediately."

Spezza said the injury has been difficult on him mentally.

"That's been the toughest part for me. I've never been injured in my pro career and I've certainly never been out this long and this was difficult for me," he said. "It's tough to watch the games on television at home. You want to get back in there and that's the one of the things that I've had to learn. This is a long season. You can't try to rush anything and you've got to make sure that you are 100% if you're going to return to the lineup."

Since it was hard to get ice in Ottawa and Scotiabank Place was booked for an event Saturday night, Spezza and Lee hit the ice at 6:30 a.m. How was that?

"Just wonderful," said Spezza. "I felt like I was back in my minor hockey days. The only thing I didn't do was put on my equipment before I went to the rink."


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