For the second time in just over a year, the Senators will welcome a former captain back to the city he called home for so long. Although Jason Spezza was about as polarizing an individual as there was in recent Senators memory, there is little doubt that he was the best offensive talent in the franchise’s young history.
Admittedly, I own a Spezza jersey and was disappointed to see him leave town in last summer’s trade, but it was probably the best decision for both sides to let Spezza have a fresh start in Dallas.
There were some negatives to his game, but I don’t think you can honestly argue that he didn’t try….if you argue that then there was nothing he could do to shift your mind and you are simply a hater. He didn’t play the style that could please everyone but has a talent with the puck that few possess and the team is better off for having had him in the lineup for so long.
However, he will be on the opposition side of the ice tonight as the Stars try to mount a comeback in the standings, trailing the Calgary Flames by 6 points with two other teams to leapfrog. A daunting task especially since they dropped their final game before the All-Star break as well as their first game after it, to Boston and Montreal respectively.
The Stars have top end offensive talent in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Spezza, but it is their defense and goaltending that have let them down on nights when they need it. Like the Senators, consistency seems to be the Achilles’ heel of the Stars.
The Senators play their first game in a week, with Robin Lehner between the pipes. There are a number of reasons why Lehner might be in, from the easily explainable to the conspiracy theorists:
1. He hasn’t seen action in over two full weeks (Jan 13th loss to these same Dallas Stars) and simply needs work
2. The Senators are showcasing him for a trade
3. The Senators are going to run with Lehner for a few games to see if he can begin to assert himself and realize his potential, thus allowing for the flexibility to trade Craig Anderson
4. Combined with the changing of a lineup that was, for the most part, working, putting Lehner in is part of a subtle “throwing in of the towel” on this season and not do their utmost best to climb in the standings.
Personally, I think (and hope) it is #1 (or possibly #2) and I really hope it isn’t #4….but only time will tell.