Sure could have used Spezza

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

The stat gets thrown around out there: Over the last couple of seasons, the Senators are 16-1-1 in games when centre Jason Spezza is on the shelf.

That was the situation going into last night's game against the Capitals as Spezza missed his fifth straight game with a groin injury.

Now they're 16-2-1.

That's one of those stats that just doesn't makes sense given Spezza's talent and importance to this team.

There was never a better example of how Ottawa's miss him than in the second period when they had the luxury of the rare 5-on-2 O power play.

With the game scoreless, Washington's Jeff Schultz was off for hooking when he was joined in the box by Tom Poti, giving the Senators a 5-on-3 for a minute, three seconds.

The Senators got a break when Washington's David Steckel lost the services of his stick. He did a great job of defending at the top of the triangle and even managed to block a shot by Senators forward Dany Heatley.

When all was said and done, the Senators managed just two shots during the power play.

"That was the story of the whole game," said Heatley. "We moved the puck around, but we just didn't finish. The special teams didn't finish and we took too many penalties. We didn't get away with it (last night)."

Give a guy with Spezza's vision and creativity the kind of room the Senators enjoyed on that power play and you have to think they would have at least come up with a couple of higher percentage shots.

Not scoring on that power play took on even greater significance when the Caps' Viktor Kozlov scored to give Washington a 1-0 lead less than two minutes later.

HEAR AND THERE: So, the starting goaltender of one team didn't make himself available to the media yesterday while the star forward of the other team took the time to go into the hallway -- in his underwear --and read a couple of lines of Twas the Night Before Christmas for a feature TSN does each year. Alexander Ovechkin read the lines at least a half-dozen times, laughed while doing it and when he was thanked by Brent Wallace of TSN, replied "No problem." And you wonder what makes a guy a pro ... Former Senators G Patrick Lalime now has a full line in his household. He and his wife, Marie-Helene, added another little girl Nov. 1, giving them three of the little darlings. Lalime celebrated with a win in the Blackhawks net on Wednesday night.

REVELATIONS: Nike has put its hockey division, Nike-Bauer, up for sale and there are a number of interested suitors. Wayne Gretzy and Mario Lemieux have been mentioned as interested parties and there's also been rumours Canadiens owner George Gillett is interested in adding the equipment company to his growing sports empire ... Funny how things go. After the morning skate, Caps coach Glen Hanlon was talking up rookie Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps' top pick (fourth overall) in the 2006 draft. "He's such

a great kid. He's not even 20 yet," said Hanlon. "He's improved so much since the first day. He needs to score a goal. That's the only thing left for him is to do." At 14:27 of the second period, he could check that "score a goal" off the list ... By the time Backstrom gets to telling his kids about his first NHL goal, it will be a blast from the circle that knocked the water bottle off the net, not a flip from beside the net that looked like it went in off the back of Ottawa G Ray Emery's head. "If

it hit him in the head," said Backstrom afterward, "I'm sorry."

SPECULATIONS: Senators coach John Paddock was asked about the whole atmosphere around Emery these days -- how ticked he is about not playing much, his demeanour in practice and his curtness with the media. "I don't care what he's like to you guys," Paddock

told the media horde. "The people he has to be responsible to are his teammates and us in the organization." Added Paddock: "Who says you have to be happy all the time? ... It's good to be surly." Speaking of surly, former NHLer Bob Probert was outside the Caps dressing room after the game. He introduced himself to Ovechkin. The star walked away and asked somebody, "Grobert? Who's Grobert?"


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