Spezza 'no different than anybody else'

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

On Cory Clouston's team, even the stars pay for their sins.

At least that was the case last night.

The new Senators coach cleaned off a spot on the bench and plunked Jason Spezza down on it for a large portion of the second period during the 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

After Ottawa fell behind 3-0 in the first, Spezza played just four shifts and 3:56 of the middle 20 minutes.

"I guess he looked tired," Clouston said of his No. 1 centre. "He's no different than anybody else. He's got to respond with a lot better effort (tomorrow in Montreal)."

Clouston made sure not to lay all the blame at Spezza's feet. He called the setback "a team loss."

Spezza had no argument with the coach's call to have him ride the pines.

"I didn't have a very good first period," said Spezza, who wound up playing 14:19 on the night. "I was dash (minus) 3 (into the second), so (Clouston) makes the right decision there to have me sit there for a bit.

"I don't think it was fatigue," Spezza added. "Just wasn't going too good for me."

Minus their captain while he is left drinking his meals through a straw, the rest of the Senators have to suck it up.

They're all going to have to respond with a much better effort against the Habs. And for those who don't, it appears Clouston will have no trouble making them pay for their sins.

Starts and stops

The Senators aren't so bad off, really. Their problems appear mostly to be with consistency, plus a bad early season choice in which system to play. Things could be worse. They could be, oh, I don't know, the Montreal Canadiens? ... Not many can tell twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin apart, but neither looks anything like a Senator, which Filip Kuba appeared to mistake the former for with a first-period giveaway that set the tone for the brutal opening frame ... Daniel Alfredsson's jaw is sore, but his funny bone is okay. Asked if he'll be more weary of Dany Heatley passes from the side boards in the future, Alfredsson replied: "He said he was aiming for the nose, so his accuracy is off." ... Liked the desperation shown by Nick Foligno as he dove for a loose puck in the offensive zone, knowing he was going to wind up face-first in the boards, even though some up here whispered he was guilty of slew-arming Canucks defenceman Alex Edler. Whatever that is ... Suddenly, the Alex Kovalev story doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore, does it?

Between periods

Give Shean Donovan some credit for dropping the gloves and trying to ignite his team the way a Chris Neil might. Donovan's mistake was in doing so with Kevin Bieksa, who has to be one of the toughest defencemen in the NHL ... Since last we saw him, it appears Josh Hennessy has added some jam to his game. He didn't look bad through most of his 13:40 and 16 shifts, which was one less than Spezza ... Anton "A-Train" Volchenkov played one of his more physical games of the season. He laid big, early hits on Ryan Kesler and Steve Bernier and then, after a second-period scrum, appeared ready for a fight when he threw a right at Jannik Hansen, who might have given up his fourth-line role to slugger Darcy Hordichuk had the opposition not been the Senators ... Brooke Wallace thinks her dad has an exceptionally long name. "She thinks it's Brent Wallace, TSN, Ottawa," the network's local reporter says of his 3 1/2-year-old. "She has to kiss the TV, too. It's the only time she gets to see me."

Things that make you go hmmm....

You think the Senators showed some spunk in the second half of the game? You should have seen the Ottawa beat reporter who laid into a pushy camera guy in the post-game scrums. "Tilt?" Heatley said in anticipation of a blow-up before his question-and-answer session. Not quite, unfortunately ... Alfredsson's main course for the next couple of days, or until the pain subsides, will be soup. Crackers are allowed. "As long as you let them moist up, so that they're not hard," said Alfredsson, whose soup du jour on Day 1 with the broken jaw was everybody's favourite: Chicken noodle. Also on his menu will be ice cream and shakes. "I'll probably lose a little bit of weight, but I hope I can start chewing in two or three days, once the pain settles down a little bit" ... Hey, since when did Ottawa have such a strong Vancouver Canucks fan base? And is there a reason other than the fact coaches Alain Vigneault and Rick Bowness are great guys? ... Bowness, the Senators' first coach, is in tip-top shape these days. "I'm running the half-marathon now," he says, "and I plan on doing the full marathon when I'm 55." He has two more years to get ready ... The Senators' "shut down" pairing of Volchenkov and Chris Phillips might as well have sat down and watched Vancouver's four goal, the way Alex Burrows and the Sedins had their way with them.

The bottom lines

Like Spezza, Heatley was also a minus-3 on the night. The pair were hit hard by a case of the Sedins ... Are you kidding? The Habs have reportedly been up to what?????


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