Like Jason Spezza who had his back turned to Kris Letang and faced the offensive zone side wall to protect the puck, the slim mathematical probability that the Senators will reach the postseason has taken a vulnerable hit.
Although surgery hasn't been ruled out, the extent of the damage to Spezza's shoulder won't be known for another week due to the swelling in the joint. This news hasn't stopped prognosticators from reflecting that serious shoulder injuries typically last for six or more weeks.
His injury marks the third time this season that a Northeast Division team has lost its number one center for a substantial period of time. Yet, somehow I am assuming that the news that Marc Savard and Derek Roy would each miss significant time resonated a bit more with the Bruins and Sabres faithful. To be bluntly honest, Spezza's shoulder injury didn't faze me because it's just the latest setback in what has turned out to be a terrible season. It's like I have an emotional disconnect with the team right now.
Unfortunately for the Senators, his injury isn't akin to having a goalie miss practice. Don't expect his brother, Matt Spezza, to magically walk through those doors and help shoulder the burden.
No. Someone is going to have to pick up the slack and early indications are that Zach Smith will be recalled and that Peter Regin will inherit most of Spezza's minutes. Obviously it's a unique opportunity for Regin. Not only will he receive his first significant minutes since being relegated from the first line, he will finally escape being paired alongside fathe ambiguously talented duo of Jesse Winchester and Alexei Kovalev.
Or will he?
Don't get me wrong. I have always been a mark for Regin but the sophomore winger has only one lone goal thus far and hasn't been without his critics:
Whether they call up a Locke or Smith a guy who has to get his butt in gear is centre Peter Regin. Maybe he’s just not that good or played above his head in the playoffs, but he should be better than he has been. He’s just been gawd-awful.
Regin is in a 19-game drought. I know Sergei Gonchar has been a huge disappointment, but in my books Regin isn’t far behind. He wanted the big contract. He wanted to avoid arbitration. He was a standout in the playoffs. This year we’ve seen nothing. So with Jason Spezza gone, it’s time for Mr. Peter Regin to show he can get the job done.
Locke isn’t going to be a saviour if they bring him in. Regin could go a long way in showing people what happened in the playoffs last spring was the real Peter Regin.
We haven’t seen that yet this season. ~ Bruce Garrioch, Off the Posts
For the record, Regin spurned arbitration to ink a 2-year deal worth $1 million per season. Big bucks. However, even though Regin has a relatively small salary, he, like many of his more highly paid teammates, has had difficulty outperforming his contract. Although he has played a responsible defensive game, Regin's been unable to capitalize on his scoring opportunities this season. Particularly when he played a stretch of games alongside Spezza on the top line. After this morning's practice, the line combinations indicate that Regin will center a line with Milan Michalek and Kovalev. It's a line that should be dubbed as the Wizard of Oz Line: the cowardly lion centering the scarecrow and the tin man.
How is Regin supposed to bring out the best when his two wingers have struggled alongside a more talented player like Spezza?
It's a fair question but if he start contributing on the scoreboard, fan sentiment is going to shift (if it hasn't already) towards recalling Corey Locke.
For years, the current point leader for the Binghamton Senators has developed into a prodigious offensive player at the AHL level. As a former 67s glamour boy who won the CHL Player of the Year in 2003, fans in this city have been opining for him to be called up. During a media scrum following practice, Cory Clouston cited Regin's size, speed and ability to score at the NHL level as reasons why Locke wasn't called up. They're the same criticisms of his game that have hounded him his entire career. If eventually this winds up as a bit of a lost season for the Sens, I wouldn't mind seeing Locke get the call at some point. It's not like the team will have anything to lose.
The Shoe Drops in Calgary
The rumours running around Twitter suggest that Darryl Sutter has stepped down as VP and GM of the Flames. Assistant General Manager, Jay Feaster, will now assume the General Manager's duties. Congratulations to all of you who had Sutter in your pool.