Eaves gets a bad name

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Not so fresh back from his experience as a "Young Star" at the all-star extravaganza, Patrick Evans learned yesterday he is being reunited with Jason Spezza.

He's also going back to his real name, Patrick Eaves.

The sophomore winger, whose name was dyslexic-tized (messed up?) by the announcer at American Airlines Center in Dallas, was skating with Spezza and Antoine Vermette when the Senators returned from the break for a late afternoon practice at The Bank.

As expected, Spezza will play here tomorrow against the Boston Bruins after missing the past 14 games with a knee injury. Any consideration of having him on a line with Vermette and Mike Fisher has been put on hold as the latter is not yet ready to resume action.

Fisher, who has missed 12 games with his own knee problem, skated before his teammates and hopes to resuming practising today. He has his eyes on a Feb. 3 return against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I think it's a pretty dynamic line," said a weary Evans, er, Eaves, who flew out of Texas at 6 a.m. yesterday with fellow Young Star Andrej Meszaros and all-star Dany Heatley. "It felt like that today, anyway."

Shrugging off the name fumble with a laugh: "It was bound to happen at some point ... everybody makes mistakes," Eaves enjoyed the all-star experience he shared with his mother, Beth.

One of his highlights was riding a hotel elevator with a childhood idol of his -- Joe Sakic.

"He said hi and was extremely nice," said Eaves. "I always liked watching him growing up. That was pretty special."

While he went goal-less in his three games before the break, Eaves had five in the five games prior to that.

With a playmaker like Spezza, it's conceivable he could rediscover that touch very quickly.

Spezza, who was leading the Senators in scoring with 19 goals and 25 assists in 36 games when he went down, skated three times during the break.

"It was a pretty good week," he said. "We worked it hard, and it felt better and better.

"I don't think it will be 100% the rest of the year ... it's one of those things where you won't cause it any more damage, but it won't be 100% until the summer when it can get a good rest.

"The contact is going to be the biggest thing now. We did some battling along the boards, but you can't really simulate that. That's why I'm going to be wearing the brace for the rest of the season.

"The most important thing is not to think about it, to just go out and play and let the brace do its job."

At some point, Spezza is likely to be back on a line with Heatley, but coach Bryan Murray wouldn't dare tinker with the good thing he's got going.

With Spezza and Fisher sidelined, the Senators were carried by the Heatley-Chris Kelly-Daniel Alfredsson line.

Being back in Ottawa means Heatley will today have his fake tooth replaced after it was knocked out last week in Boston, and will tomorrow slip into his familiar No. 15.

He wore No. 16 in the all-star game in honour of Brett Hull -- and because No. 15 was being used by Tomas Kaberle (who has more NHL seniority) and his second choice, No. 51, was being worn by Brian Campbell. The former 67's defenceman got dibs because he was a starter.

"It was a lot of fun, a good, relaxing week," Heatley, who had a souvenir jersey signed by all the players, said of his experience.

"This is the most important time of the year," he added about resuming the season. "I think the guys had a good break and we're ready to go."

His coach thinks so, too.

"I don't think they lost their focus," said Murray, whose team has won 11 of its last 14 -- including a textbook 3-0 victory in Boston last time out. "It looks like they came back in pretty good form. They seemed sharp (in practice).

"But just like Boston and every other team has to get its game going again, we've got to get our team going again too." 


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