Sens will be better, bigger with Spezza

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

You miss Jason Spezza, whether you know it or not.

When injury prevents him from playing and practising with his teammates, the clever-quote ratio in the Senators dressing room drops way down.

"Have you taken up any new hobbies while recovering from the knee injury?" Spezza was asked after taking part in yesterday's morning skate, a few hours before missing his 12th straight game.

"Working out," No. 19 shot back with a chuckle and without missing a beat.

It's true that those with the God-given gifts never do have to bust-it as hard as the less fortunate.

Meanwhile, to even think for a second that the Senators will be worse off once Spezza gets healthy is ridiculous.

The guy was leading the team in scoring with 19 goals and 44 points when he went down Dec. 21. If he had not been injured, he'd be going to the all-star game with Dany Heatley next week.

Instead, he's spending a few days in beautiful Kanata.

"With my new best friend, Randy (Lee)," Spezza said, referring to the Senators strength and conditioning coach. "I'll be skating a few times.

"My break," he added, "has been the last month."

Do not expect to see Spezza play in Boston on Saturday, the final game before the league takes its annual hiatus.

"If, in the next three days, something unbelievable happened, I'd play," he said. "But I highly doubt it. There's no sense playing one game when I can have seven extra days to get ready."

They'll be better when Spezza gets back. And he should be a little bigger.

STARTS AND STOPS: Daniel Alfredsson was at it again last night, piling up a few more points as he climbs back onto the NHL's Top 20 scoring leaders board. Where would he be with a decent start to the season (remember, Alfredsson had just a goal and five assists in the team's first 11 games) and without the five-game absence due to injury? ... Another thing that separates Alfredsson from the rest: When they announced that he had been named the NHL's first star of the week during a stop in play, Alfredsson knew the crowd could see him on the video scoreboard, and thanked fans for their applause with a wave ... There must be a good reason why Alexander Ovechkin wears that tinted visor, right? Something to do with his eyes and maybe the glare off the ice? "No," Ovechkin said yesterday morning. "It's just me." ... Ovechkin says he's going to ask if he can go back to the mirrored visor he was asked to remove when opponents (Martin Brodeur) said it prevented them from seeing his eyes. "I don't understand why they look at my eyes," said Ovechkin. Maybe that's what makes Marty so good.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: How can you tell Dean McAmmond's playing with some confidence? That between-the-legs drop pass in the defensive zone early last night might be an indication ... Remember that pre-season TV clip of Ovechkin scoring a hole-in-one on his first visit to a golf course? Yesterday the Caps star admitted that, while he keeps the lucky ball in his basement, he hasn't played the game since. Guess he figures it isn't challenging enough ... What you might not have known about the feat is that Ovechkin hit about 200 balls at that green, and only about five found the apron. Also, with such an ugly swing he dug up the tee box almost beyond recognition.

BETWEEN PERIODS: For what sounds like some entertaining TV, you want to catch Connected, the new Rogers Sportsnet production, tonight at 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. Reporter Ian Mendes took D Tom Preissing to the Rideau Centre to see how many shoppers would recognize the first-year Senator, who happens to be second among NHL plus-minus leaders. Of the 20 people stopped, 15 had no clue who Preissing was, which would make him a minus-10. But of the five who knew him, one was an acquaintance of Preissings' and another two had heard he was in the mall. The good-natured Preissing tries to help his cause by wearing a helmet and giving clues himself ... Former Senator turned Caps D Brian Pothier on Ovechkin: "Every time Ovie steps on the ice he has a chance to make something crazy happen."

BOTTOM SHELF: Song singer/bad guy buster Lyndon Slewidge is expected to return for tomorrow night's game against the Canucks from the "minor surgery" that has kept him out of the lineup lately. Performing duties in his place last night was Sarite Harris.


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