Kelly tries to fill Spezza's shoes

Senators' Jason Spezza was hit from behind and left the game with an injury to his shoulder on...

Senators' Jason Spezza was hit from behind and left the game with an injury to his shoulder on December 26, 2010. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:23 PM ET

COLUMBUS — Next up to try and fill Jason Spezza’s shoes — Chris Kelly.

The Senators’ third-line centre has been bumped to a more offensive role as coach Cory Clouston tries to prompt some goals from his team, which lost cataylst Jason Spezza to a shoulder injury earlier this week.

In their one game so far without Spezza, the Senators were shut out by the Carolina Hurricanes. It was the fifth time Ottawa had been held without a goal this season.

All five times have been at Scotia-blank Place.

“I think everybody likes to play that important offensive role and contribute offensively,” said Kelly, who will centre the second line, with Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev, after Peter Regin failed his audition for the role. “I think I’m capable of putting up points.

“Not crazy points, not (Sidney) Crosby points ... but contributing offensively and helping the team where it needs to be helped.” 

What? You’re not going to be able to produce like the NHL’s leading scorer?

“I don’t think so,” said Kelly. “Can anyone right now?”

After a moment’s thought, he changed his tune a bit.

“Well maybe I can put up like he did last game,” said Kelly, referring to the fact Crosby’s point streak was stopped at 25 games by the New York Islanders Wednesday. “But definetely not the game before that.”

Crosby had two goals and two assists vs. Atlanta Dec. 28.

Kelly, who is tied for sixth in Senators scoring with eight goals and eight assists, filled in admirably when Spezza was hurt a few seasons ago — when he centred a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley.

“I find the better players you play with, the simpler the game needs to be,” said Kelly. “You just try to get the puck to them, get open, keep it simple. If you try to over play the puck or try to do things outside of your limitations, your character, you just get in trouble. I’ve just got to go out and play my game, my style of hockey.”

Clouston has kept the Nick Foligno-Mike Fisher-Alfredsson line intact, while promoting Jesse Winchester and Zack Smith to the third line, alongside Chris Neil. 

The fourth line sees Regin between Jarkko Ruutu and Ryan Shannon.

“We’ve kept one line together, a couple of pairings together we’ve felt can create something,” said Clouston. “It’s an opportunity right now for someone like Chris Kelly to play more of a Top 6 role (but) He’s still going to kill penalties.

“I thought that Zack Smith and Jesse Winchester were two of our best players (Wednesday).They’re going to get an opportunity to get a little more ice time.  We need guys like Peter Regin and Shannon to provide speed, energy, and they’re able to move up the lines if and when we need them to.”


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