Game Day Thread — Buffalo vs Ottawa

Buffalo Sabres (20-9-2) vs Ottawa Senators (16-12-4) @ SBP, 7:30pm; Television: TSN2
As is the norm on a Senators game day, here’s my prediction that actually didn’t make made it in time for James Gordon’s Ottawa Citizen Panel deadline. If you want to check out what his panel had to say, click here, otherwise, here are my thoughts that go along my 3-1 Buffalo win prediction…

Tonight, Sens fans will get their first glimpse at what the next four to eight weeks might hold for a Spezza-less Senators team. Personally, I think it’s frightening and regardless of how Ottawa performs, it has negative consequences. Allow me to explain. On one hand, if the Senators play well in his absence, Spezza naysayers win and they’ll boast that he isn’t a winner. If the team fares poorly, Ottawa could wind up outside of the playoff picture when Spezza returns. And to make matters worse, the team’s first game without Jason will come against a Buffalo Sabres that likely won’t feature Patrick Lalime between the pipes. Hopefully on the television broadcast of the game, they won’t pan the camera onto Lalime on the bench, it’ll bring back too many repressed memories. God, these next few weeks are going to be a blast…

Via Twitter, Brent Wallace helped perpetuate the notion that Ottawa may not miss Spezza that much because in 2007, the Senators went 9-3-2 without Spezza in the lineup. Although I’m sure that if he wasn’t limited to 140 characters in his post, Brent would have recalled that the Senators were deeper, more talented and didn’t feature a blueline with guys like Picard, Karlsson, Carkner or Campoli. Hell, even Jonathan Cheechoo scored 37 goals and 69 points in 2007. Shit changes.

To further update Spezza’s situation, Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes has confirmed that Spezza has a torn MCL in his right knee. So while it was speculated early on that Spezza would be on the shelf for 4 to 8 weeks, this tear will likely push his return back to that latter date.

“We’re not expecting him back before the Olympics at this point,” said Bryan Murray, who added he will not make a deal at this point and the answers will have to come from within. ~ Ottawa Sun

While that scenario isn’t necesarily the most positive situation for Sens fans, at least we can feel fortunate that his ligament damage precluded his ACL. The good guys over at Silver Seven Sens raised an interesting point by stating that Spezza’s absence will afford him the time to let his ailing back recuperate. From a superficial perspective, it’s a great idea but Spezza’s back is fine. People need to quit making excuses for his poor play. Right Brennan?

Here is the lineup for tonight’s game: Michalek-Winchester-Alfredsson; Regin-Fisher-Kovalev; Ruutu-Kelly-Cheechoo; Campoli-Hennessey-Shannon. (Ed. note: No, you did actually read that correctly.) Chris Campoli will make his debut as a Senators forward in tonight’s matchup because Nick Foligno is out with and undisclosed lower body injury. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Campoli drop back and log some powerplay time on the blueline. Hopefully this versatility will help increase Campoli’s trade value more than it ever did for Christoph Schubert’s.