It is now confirmed that Ottawa Senators’ #1 centre Jason Spezza will be in the lineup for Sunday’s game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. But down 2-0, is there a way Spezza can be a difference maker so quickly after rejoining the lineup. He hasn’t played a game since January 27th, more than three and a half months ago.
Can he step into the second round of the playoffs and go head to head against arguably the top two centers in the league? With a healthy Spezza at 100%, for a full series, the Senators might have a fighting chance to pull off the upset. But, coming off a wonky back that requires surgery, if he was near 100% he would have been in the lineup for Friday’s must win game 2. Now, the Senators need to win 4 of the next 5 games, with their best forward playing less than perfect and their Norris Trophy winning defenseman also obviously suffering lingering effects of his Achilles injury.
Erik Karlsson is really struggling and playing just over 15 minutes in game 2 puts a lot of stress on the rest of the blue line to make up for it.
Still, even without Spezza and 50% of Karlsson, the Senators were 1 shot away from evening up the series at a game apiece.
But like I wrote yesterday, it is too late for moral victories. Taking 4 of 5 against the Penguins, with or without Spezza is probably too much to ask.