OTTAWA - Adding Kyle Turris to their lineup has given the Senators options.
The Senators centre arrived for his first skate with his new club Monday at the Bell Sensplex and he’ll play Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place as this pivotal pre-Christmas four-game homestand continues.
With Turris being slotted into a second-line role behind centre Jason Spezza, coach Paul MacLean is going to have to do some line juggling to find the right combinations, but Turris looks like he’ll play between Nick Foligno and Erik Condra.
Suddenly, the Senators have a lot of depth in the middle after dealing defenceman David Rundblad and a second-round draft pick to get Turris from Phoenix Saturday. GM Bryan Murray is hopeful the move will alleviate some of the pressure on Spezza.
“I thought it made us a better team ... that’s why we did it,” said MacLean.
Foligno has been playing some centre lately, but mostly he’s been a winger. MacLean can afford to experiment a little until Turris has had a chance to play a few games with the Senators.
Regin centres Zack Smith and Chris Neil on the third line. Regin could be tried out as a winger because he played some of his best hockey on Spezza’s wing in a 2009 playoff series vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The trio of Colin Greening-Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson is coming off a huge night in a 6-4 victory over Pittsburgh Friday.
That could all change once Milan Michalek is ready to return from his concussion, but Spezza and Alfredsson have chemistry that goes way back.
“With Milan still day-to-day and with the success Spezza and Alfie have had, I really didn’t want to mess around with anything,” said MacLean.
THE FIRST STAR
Spezza was named the NHL’s No. 1 star for last week. He had eight points in three games alongside Greening and Alfredsson. “When you have a big a week like that, it’s mostly because of your teammates and linemates,” said Spezza. “It makes you feel good and you need guys around you to play well. Alfie and I have really good chemistry and (Greening) and I have played together most of the year. I’ve played with a lot of different guys throughout the year, but definitely our combo is working well.”
HELP ON ‘D’
The Senators will be bolstered by the return of D Sergei Gonchar (neck) and D Filip Kuba (shoulder). Gonchar missed four games, while Kuba was on the shelf for nine. “It’s been a while,” said Gonchar, who was injured Dec. 8 vs. the Devils. “It’s always tough to see the team playing when you’re not there.” Michalek (concussion) was on the bike Monday.
Nick Foligno was hopeful his brother Marcus would be called up to play his first NHL game for the Sabres here Tuesday. And his wish came true. The Sabres have 10 players on the injured list and needed reinforcements to face the Senators. Marcus Foligno, a 6-foot-5 winger, was recalled from the club’s AHL affiliate in Rochester. “We dreamed about this,” said Nick Foligno, who joked that “somebody should text Lindy Ruff and make it happen.”