Needing to win 4 of their next 5 games against the Penguins, the Sens need all the help they can get, and the return of their star centerman is exactly what they need. Spezza should provide a big boost to the league's worst offense and 20th ranked power-play who, despite having the 4th highest 5-on-4 shot rate in the league, has often looked underwhelming.
After getting off to a hot start on the second line, Kyle Turris was forced into the first line center role after Spezza got injured, and has looked somewhat out of place. While he'll probably be bumped down to the second line to play with worse linemates and won't get as much PP time, Turris should benefit from not having to face team's top players as often. This year Turris' most faced opponents were Dion Phaneuf, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic. Last year with Spezza in the lineup he faced Dennis Seidenberg, Joe Corvo, Mark Streit and Matthew Carle the most, while Spezza handled the toughest match-ups.
While injuries and poor shooting luck could be to blame, Milan Michalek has struggled on Turris' wing this year, and including playoffs, has just 5 goals in 30 games.
With emergence of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, MacLean now has to move 1 of his centerman to the wing to make room for Spezza. My guess would be Mika Zibanejad, as he could take Latendresse/Kassian's spot on Smith's left wing, or Conacher's spot on the second line, since he played on the left side for Binghamton during the lockout. It's unfortunate because Zibanejad has played so well at center this year, but I think his north/south playing style might actually be better suited for the wing.
As we've seen with Karlsson, we shouldn't expect too much from a player who hasn't played since January. Even if he does get off to a slow start, Spezza's return should give the Sens much better forward depth, and hopefully a little hope for a team who has their work cut out for them.no comments