Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not the Spezza we expected, but the one the team deserves

I made a few predictions about the Senators in August. Some of them have come totally true (Auld being #1 for a stretch, Rutuu as heroic jackass), while others, it appears, will be so totally off base by the end of the season, I may have to label myself a heroic jackass.

The prediction in question has to deal with Jason Spezza. Love him or hate him, it's his job to put put points on the board, and he's better than all but one person in Ottawa (Heatley, most nights) at doing it. I predicted the Spez Dispenser would reach 100 points this season... and I think I will turn out to be wrong.

Spezza has played all of the Senators 44 games this season, but has only accumulated a measly 37 points. According to, he's on pace for 68 points this season. That would make this his worst season since he first joined the Sens full-time in 2003-04. He may also fall well below the expectations of TSN, who said he would get 33 goals and 55 assists this season.

On the other hand, Spezza could set a new career-high in goals this season. If the Senators improve their play a little, and Hartsburg finally and eternally stops trying to match Alfredsson with some monstrosity of a second line, Spezza could very well do it.

Considering that the Senators are on pace for 40 less goals this season, for Spezza to maintain his goal scoring pace from last year is interesting to note. With less of his teammates scoring, Spezza has had to take matters onto his own stick a little more often. In other words, he's contributing a greater percentage of the Sens' goals this season.

Anecdotally, I've noticed Spezza doing better on breakaways (sans shootouts) and is not as adverse to taking a shot on net. Has a coach finally gotten through to him?

So he probably won't reach 100 points this season, but Spezza may have finally gotten the idea: Just put the puck in the net.
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