Can Ottawa Senators Handle Jason Spezza Injury?

By Mark Donatiello
Mark DesRosiers – US PRESSWIRE

Jason Spezza may be out for the season after having surgery on a herniated disc in his back just five games into the season.  Spezza hopes electing to have surgery won’t cost him the season, but says he had no other choice given the severity of his injury.  The Ottawa Senators were one of the hottest teams in hockey to start the year, but without Spezza the Sens have struggled.  Two consecutive losses to mediocre teams, combined with a stretch of one-goal wins, suggest that the Senators may not be able to compete without Jason Spezza in the lineup this year.

Jason Spezza is coming off his best season since 2007-08, producing 34 goals and 50 assists last year.  He was averaging a point per game to start the season, adding depth and dynamic scoring to a loaded Senators team.  With Spezza out indefinitely, the Senators lost veteran leadership in addition to Spezza’s talent.  During a stretch of mediocre hockey, the Senators cannot turn to arguably their best player to stop the bleeding.  It is going to be difficult for the Senators to sustain their high level of play without Spezza, but it’s certainly possible.

Daniel Alfredsson, after talk of retirement last year, has returned for another season as the captain of the Ottawa Senators.  His leadership can help fill the void left by Jason Spezza, as they await Spezza’s possible return.  Additionally, Alfredsson has had the hot hand, helping to carry the Senators offensively with Kyle Turris.  Second-year phenom Erik Karlsson is also off to a hot start, while Chris Neil and Milan Michalek provide additional scoring options.  Craig Anderson is off to a hot start in net, and the balance of offensive options and defense will keep the Senators in the hunt.

The Senators are a deep team, but the loss of Jason Spezza may prove to be too much to overcome.  While the Senators have the offensive depth to compete, it will be nearly impossible for Ottawa to maintain the impressive level of play they opened the season with while fully healthy.  Ottawa has taken a distinct step backwards since Spezza’s injury.  Unless they improve their play, their spot in the playoff hunt could slip away moving forward.

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