Jason Spezza practices with Ottawa, return could come in second round

The Ottawa Senators endured a couple big blows to their lineup this season, namely losing defenseman Erik Karlsson and forward Jason Spezza to injuries. Still, the team managed to make the playoffs as a seventh seed with 56 points and downed the Montreal Canadiens in the first round in five games.

jason-spezzaKarlsson, who returned from a lacerated Achilles tendon just 10 weeks after sustaining the injury (despite initial estimates that he would be sidelines four to six months) provided a big boost for Ottawa’s blue line. Now the team may be on the verge of elevating their offense with the return of Spezza.

After suffering a herniated disc just five games into the season, it was announced that Spezza was undergo surgery and would be sidelined a minimum of two months. However, Spezza, who registered two goals and three assists in those five games, has been skating in recent days and could be on the verge of a return in round two against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He practiced with his teammates for the first time this morning since having back surgery.

“It’s been a long process and a long season for me,” said Spezza after practice. “It felt good to join the team again and get some reps in.”

Spezza, who has 17 goals and 34 assists in 53 NHL playoff games, would help boost a Senators offense that already seems to be on fire. The team scored 20 goals in the first round, twice tallying six goals. Ottawa’s four goals per game average is second in the postseason only to Pittsburgh, who averaged 4.14 goals per game in the first round. Their 1.80 goals against average per game is third best in the postseason so far, and head and shoulders above the Penguins, who averaged 2.83 goals against.

“I’d like to see Jason on the ice. He’s a good player. He’s an important player for us,” said Senators GM Bryan Murray. “He hasn’t played all year though. It’s a big step to throw him into a series where everybody’s been playing for a long time. I hope to see him at some point in round two. Whether that will happen or not, I don’t know.”

Senators head coach Paul McLean said that Spezza will not start the series, but a return at some point during the series has not been ruled out.

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