Cheapseats: Spezza lets guard down for good reason

Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

Don Brennan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:51 PM ET

If you’re a Senators fan, you actually want Jason Spezza to drop his guard.

The more times the better.

Against the Penguins Friday, Ottawa’s leading scorer had opportunity to do so five times. Following his two goals and the two he assisted on, as well as right after the Zenon Konopka power-play goal for which he had a bird’s-eye view.

Spezza, you see, is one of the breed who immediately removes his mouthguard to celebrate an Ottawa score.

Or so we believe.

“I don’t think I do,” Spezza said when asked about the habit after Friday’s morning skate. “Maybe I do subconsciously. I really don’t know. I might actually, sometimes.”

The reason why is what you’d guess.

“Because you’re talking to your teammates after,” said Spezza. “And it’s harder to talk with your mouthgaurd in.”

Only about nine Senators skaters wear an inside mouthguard. The Europeans generally don’t, because they didn’t have to growing up. Spezza does because like a visor, it’s always been a part of his equipment.

“Why change now?” he asked.

Good point.

Chris Neil doesn’t wear a mouthguard.

“Because I have no teeth,” he said.

Good point, too.

Zack Smith doesn’t either.

“I think I’ve had stitches in my face twice ... or maybe it was once,” said Smith. “My mom hates it that I don’t wear one.”

The question is, does a mouthguard really help prevent concussions?

Some say yes, as it prevents the teeth from clamping together hard.

Others say no, that’s a myth.

In trying to figure out how to limit head injuries, perhaps the mouthguard solution needs further investigation.

STARTS AND STOP

About the new scoreboard ... better five years late than never, right? Now, Huge Eeen, what about replacing the cottage TVs in the pressbox? You do know that every other team in the league actually thinks it’s important for the media to see replays before telling the millions who couldn’t get to the game what happened, don’t you? Nothing wrong with the sets up here that a good pair of rabbit ears couldn’t fix, I suppose ... You can say that penalties cost the Senators in the second period, as the Penguins scored seven seconds after Chris Neil went off for hooking and eight seconds following a high sticking call on Daniel Alfresson. But you know, Alex Auld could make a save, too ... Alfredsson now has five points in the last two games, and in three games since he turned 39. Probably has less to do with his age than his reunion with Spezza, right?

STUFF I THINK I THUNK

Raise your hand if you predicted that, 33 games into the season, Jared Cowen would have twice as many goals as Erik Karlsson. Nothing, eh? ... Superfan Cameron Hughes and the little girl who danced for the camera created a greater crowd reaction than the announcement that a new scoreboard is on the way. Maybe it’s a case of they’ll-believe-it-when-they-see-it ... Perhaps Evgeni Malkin wouldn’t be the success he is if he had to shoot against Matt Carkner more often. Big Country robbed the Penguins sniper during a mano-a-mano showdown with Auld caught out of position in the third ... What are the odds that Nick Foligno is going to take a knee-on-close-to-knee hit two games in a row? This time, an illegal check by Simon Despres could leave Foligno with more than a charley horse.

BETWEEN PERIODS

One game after his goalie interference penalty spoiled an Ottawa power play, Zenon Konopka was entrusted with another shift on the man advantage by coach Paul MacLean. It took him four seconds to won the draw that deflected the Karlsson point shot for just the third-power play goal in his 221-game NHL career. His other two came in the 23 games he played with the 2005-06 Anaheim Ducks ... So when the dude proposes to his date in the Wisers box, how does she know it’s not just the whiskey talking? ... The latest in Cowen’s surprisingly quick rise to prominence: Four points and a plus-5 rating against the Peguins.

KONOPKA KORNER

Cheaps: What makes you go Hmmm this morning, ZK28? How about that new therapy centre Daniel Alfredsson and Senators athletic therapist Gerry Towned opened over at Sensplex.

Konopka: “All I know is that I’ve had over 500 stitches in my face, broken numerous bones in my body, more vertabraes messed up than good ... but ever since I’ve been here and had the care of Gerry and the training staff, it’s been unbelievable. I really want to support those guys and their venture at the Sensplex, get people to go over there and get the best treatment possible.”

Cheaps: You went to CHEO Thursday?

Konopka: “You’re worried about faceoffs, you’re worried about a dent in the truck, then you go to the kids hospital ... it’s good to brighten their day, but it also puts things in perspective. The kids are awesome.”

WIN CHEAPSEATS TICKETS: Email the headline of this article on Ottawasun.com to enter our draw for 2, 300-level seats to the Senators vs. Montreal at Scotiabank Place Dec. 27. Email your answer, name, address, email & phone number to ottsun.contest@sunmedia.ca. Subject line must read "Ottawa Senators Cheapseats Tickets". One entry per person / email address. Draw is 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 19. We'll inform the winner via email. You must claim your tickets in person (bring photo ID) at the Sun, 6 Antares Dr., before 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22.

 


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