Groin injury hits Spezza

The Senators are likely to be without Jason Spezza for tonight's game. (SUN MEDIA FILE/Errol...

The Senators are likely to be without Jason Spezza for tonight's game. (SUN MEDIA FILE/Errol McGihon)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

The Senators haven't played much lately, but that doesn't mean things haven't been eventful.

It looks like lineup changes are on the way for tonight's game against the surging Atlanta Thrashers at Scotiabank Place with centre Jason Spezza, the team's second-leading scorer, likely out and centre Dean McAmmond back in action.

Not much has been able to slow the 9-1 Senators, second in the NHL to the Detroit Red Wings, but holding three games in hand going into last night's action.

Spezza suffered a groin injury during skating drills late in Tuesday's practice, missed practice yesterday and all but wrote off playing tonight.

If the game had been last night, he said he definitely wouldn't have been playing.

Tonight?

"There's always a chance, but I don't know. We'll have to see. They say the first 48 hours is tough to tell. (Today) I'll have a better idea how severe it is," said Spezza, who has a goal and 12 assists this season.

"Right now it doesn't feel that good. We're just going to take it day-to-day and see what happens. I've never really had groin problems, so I don't really know the severity of it yet."

Randy Robitaille, signed a couple of weeks ago, saw time in Spezza's spot between Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson at practice, but coach John Paddock said he hadn't settled on line combinations for tonight.

Mike Fisher or Chris Kelly could also get a shot.

"Fisher was going there (last year) and he got hurt and we only won 12-of-14 with Chris Kelly there," said Paddock.

McAmmond has been out the last five weeks with a concussion and shoulder injury sustained in the pre-season on a vicious hit by Philadelphia Flyer Steve Downie, who was suspended 20 games.

McAmmond's shoulder is now well enough to let him play and he'll likely be back at centre on the fourth line and on the penalty-killing unit, where he has excelled.

This will be McAmmond's first meaningful game since he was knocked out of the Stanley Cup final in June with a concussion caused by an elbow from Anaheim Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger.

McAmmond will have to ramp it up to regular-season tempo without much of a training camp.

"It's the mental jump to a mid-season game. It's a whole lot different. I'm expecting to make that mental hurdle quite early," said McAmmond, who will be wearing a new helmet with thicker padding.

"Physically, I feel like I can give and take a hit. I'm strong enough to probably do some work down in the corners, so I feel like that's good enough to go."

While McAmmond is excited to be back, Spezza is frustrated at being hurt at the end of a slow period in which the Senators have played just one game in 11 days.

The injury happened "during the races at the end (of practice). It was the third time I went and as I was skating, I felt something go. I knew right away something was up," said Spezza. "It's just frustrating because we've had one game in the last 13 days or whatever it's been. I'm chomping at the bit to get back at it and this happens.

"We're definitely going to err on the side of caution because we're only 10 games in. There's a lot of important games coming up."


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