At 10:30 a.m. yesterday, Jason Spezza emerged from the dressing room and headed for the ice at Scotiabank Place.
"How's it going?" he was asked.
"I don't know, I'll tell you in about 20 minutes," Spezza answered with a laugh before taking a skate to test his injured groin.
While the Senators centre didn't take part in practice and won't be in the lineup tonight against the Capitals at Scotiabank Place, he's inching toward a return and hasn't ruled out suiting up Saturday against Montreal.
Spezza revealed yesterday that club doctors and the training staff told him when he first suffered the injury on Oct. 30 that he would be out of the lineup two weeks.
"I thought it was going to be quicker. The trainers thought it was going to be a couple of weeks. They were pretty dead-on with how long it was going to take," said Spezza.
If he doesn't play against the Habs, he'll almost certainly return next Thursday against the Sabres at Scotiabank Place. That would allow Spezza five days more days to heal.
"It's getting a little bit better and I'm definitely going in the right direction," said Spezza. "We're not putting a timeline on it. We're going to see how it feels and we're definitely going in the direction where I'm going to get in a game sooner rather than later."
Senators coach John Paddock said Spezza needs to participate in a full practice before returning to the lineup.
"If it feels like I can play Saturday, then I'll play Saturday," said Spezza. "We do have five days there (after the Montreal game) to let it heal more. I'd rather play sooner than later, but I'm not going to rush it."
NO BIG DEAL: The Senators weren't patting themselves on the back for having the best start in NHL history with a 13-1 record and 26 points through the first 14 games of the season. "It doesn't really mean a whole lot," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "Maybe after the season, when you look back and see some of the good things we've done, then you'll appreciate it more then." The Senators are now taking questions on whether they can match the 1976-77 Canadiens, who lost only eight games and finished with an incredible 60-8-12 record for 132 points. The Senators would like everybody to relax because there's a lot of hockey left to be played. "I never watched Montreal when they had their dynasty going," said Alfredsson. "Obviously, they did a lot of good things, and people have to find something to compare with. I think watching football the last two weeks, all the talk has been about the unbeaten (Patriots and Colts). One team had to lose that streak. The same thing goes for us: We're not going to win (every game). We're just trying to give ourselves a chance to win."
NO TRADES: Capitals GM George McPhee told the Washington Post that he makes calls all the time to his counterparts about trades to help his struggling club, but can't find any partners. "You would like to help your team, but has there been a trade made in this league since opening night? We call other GMs every week to see what's going on," said McPhee. "And there's not a lot going on in this league. I don't know if it's turned into the NFL, but it's really hard to make a trade." McPhee also told the Post that teams are having a tough time dealing with the salary cap and players being eligible for free agency earlier in their careers. "There's a lot more free agency now," said McPhee. "If you got a guy who has one year (remaining on his contract) and the other guy has two years, it deters you from doing things. Teams are also trying to fill their needs during free agency in the summer and are reluctant to give up (assets) during the season."