While they’ve already been without him for a couple games, the Sens officially begin life without Jason Spezza tonight in Raleigh.
With Spezza set to undergo back surgery today and a rehab of at least two months ahead of him, the Sens are going to have to get used to playing without their number one centre. Tonight's test comes in Raleigh, North Carolina when they take on Eric Staal and the rest of the Carolina Hurricanes.
For the second straight game, the Senators catch a bit of a break by dodging an elite goaltender. Carey Price had the night off on Wednesday and now Cam Ward will rest in favour of his back up, Dan Ellis. Obviously you don’t want to take a team lightly no matter who's in net but this is another lucky break for the Sens.
After Boston's loss at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, the Senators come into Friday’s action officially holding the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Both Ottawa and Boston have identical 5-1-1 records but the Senators have the edge thanks to the number of regulation wins.
The Sens should get a boost on the back end tonight as Sergei Gonchar draws back into the line up. With the return of Gonchar, Mark Borowiecki moves to the press box. Guillaume Latendresse did not make the trip to Carolina and will be replaced by Kaspars Daugavins. Latendresse has the flu and will not play in either of the weekend games.
Here is how the Senators are expected to line up based on the morning skate.
Craig Anderson makes his 7th start of the season for the Senators. Puck drop is scheduled for just after 7:00 PM with the game available on Sportsnet and on the radio at The Team 1200.
GO SENS GO!
- With Jason Spezza sidelined indefinitely, you can guarantee the Senators are going to pop up in trade rumours for the next little while. Last night the Sportsnet panel talked about UFA to be Stephen Weiss as a possible option. Ryan O'Reilly's name is likely to come up as he's locked in a contract dispute with a struggling Avalanche team. For now anyway, Murray's plan is to give the young guys a chance to fill that spot. Much like the situation on the back end, the organization will not make a panic deal that could hurt the team in the long run.