OTTAWA - It’s no coincidence that both Jason Spezza and the Senators entered Tuesday in six-game slumps.
As one goes, so goes the other. I know it, you know it, Spezza knows it.
“I haven’t scored, we haven’t won, I know I have to produce for us to win,” Spezza said a few hours before facing the Blues Tuesday. “I’m definitely putting pressure on myself to make sure I’m playing well this week.”
Spezza didn’t register a single point in the six games — which was double the length of his longest previous drought this season and longest since a seven-game dry spell from Nov. 24-Dec. 5 in 2010.
Four of the six, the Senators lost by a goal, so yeah, a less chilly Spezza would have made a difference.
Spezza halted the slide Tuesday, as he felt he would, when he drew an assist on Daniel Alfredsson’s second period power-play goal. Earlier, at the 28-second mark of the first, he had a chance from the slot that was stopped by Brian Elliott. Later in the period, he had a 2-on-0 breakaway with Colin Greening, but chose to pass. It was not the right decision.
“I played one of my best games of the year, I think, in Phoenix, and don’t get a goal,” Spezza said in explaining what he was going through. “Then it kind of snowballs, and you’ve gone three, four, five without a point ... so you start thinking about it a little bit. I got sick there for a couple of days.”
Spezza doesn’t at all mind the heat that comes with being the Senators’ head chef.
“In our locker room I’m looked upon to be a guy that’s scoring, contributing offensively,” he said. “That’s the way you want it, that’s the way it is. You have to identify it too. I’m not going to make excuses and say other guys need to step up. I need to be the guy who steps up first. Your offensive guys have to be your offensive catalyst. That’s when the team is doing well.”
For the Senators to get back on track, Spezza has to produce on a regular basis again. So does his winger, Milan Michalek, who hasn’t scored in 11 games.
But as Spezza goes, so does he. And the rest of the Senators.
STARTS AND STOPS
Alfredsson was tied for the team lead in hits after 20 minutes, with two. I counted three. Anyway, it was his most physical game of the season ... The Senators should have been in much better shape after one period. Craig Anderson should have stopped the first St. Louis goal, even though it was off a deflection, and the second was him giving up a bad rebound and very soft D-zone play by his mates ... At the other end, Kaspars Daugavins hit a post and Greening was left holding his head in his hands after bouncing one off the crossbar.
Ever wonder what tough guys talk about when they chat with the other team’s tough guy while stretching at centre during the pre-game warmup? Sometimes they socialize, sometimes they plan a scrap for later that night, and sometimes they do both. Take it away, Zenon Konopka. “Some of those chats can be pretty vulgar, and promoting for later in the night. When I was talking with (Shawn) Thornton in Boston, I knew he went to Turks and Caicos for the break and I was asking how the hotel was. We both know the owner. He says it was pretty nice. He had a real nice time. That was nice. When we played in Pittsburgh, I had a chat with (Matt) Cooke, then (Arron) Asham came over, and I fought Asham first shift. What happened (in the warmup) was, Cooke actually owes a buddy of mine a signed jersey, so I told him he better get it to him or there’s going to be juice, and the juice is running. Then Asham came over and said ‘Zee, what are you talking about?’ I told him and he said, ‘Oh, OK, cool. So are we going tonight?’ And I said, I’m willing if you are. So the first shift we go. Then we played Philadelphia, and I saw that Zac Rinaldo, and I just told him, we’re going tonight. And he’s like, ‘No we’re not.’ I said, that isn’t how it works. I’m the older player. When I was your age, I didn’t ask questions, I just dropped my gloves. We’re going tonight. And he said ‘OK, I guess,’ so later, we went.”
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ...
Ready to return is Brian Lee, who has been out since Jan. 14 with either an upper- or lower-body injury. Last season, Lee played through both — a broken toe and a broken thumb — for 20 games. Now that tidbit may be a year old, but it’s still a scoop ... Not often you see three members of the 1984 Memorial Cup-champion 67’s in the same house. But at this one were Blues commentator Darren Pang, Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw and Bruins scout Adam Creighton ... The ‘4’ painted behind both nets at SBP is, of course, a tribute to Chris Phillips and his 1,000th career game, which he’ll play Thursday.
O’BRIEN IN, BUTLER OUT
With seven goals and seven assists in 27 games, Jim O’Brien wasn’t expecting to be recalled from Binghamton on the weekend. “I thought it was going to be a regular day,” he said of the B-Sens game in Manchester. “It was a good surprise.” O’Brien missed 6-7 weeks earlier this season with broken fibula suffered while blocking a shot. “One of those things that happens, it’s part of the game,” he said. “Took a while to get back from that, but since I’ve been back and I’ve been playing good.” O’Brien has been decent since getting here, too, having pushed Bobby Butler to a seat in the pressbox.
WHAT’S THE HITCH?
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says the NHL has changed rather dramatically in the past few years. “It used to be tennis when we came out of the lockout. Now it’s like ping pong,” he said. “The game is so fast now. We go stretches ... we’ve come out of the break, played two games now, and we played one game 8:30 no whistles, and then we played 5;35 no whisteles. You never saw that before. It’s unbeliveale how fast the game is,but it’s fast without puck possession. It’s like, forecheck, forecheck, forecheck. ... it’s really different. Sometimes it feels like it’s organizaed chaos out there, to be honest with you. It’s what it is. With no red line, and with teams playing three forwards high in the neutral zone, you’re not going to get a puck possesssion game. You’re just going to have to deal with it, get used to it. It’s really different now. The last two years it’s changed even more.”