MY TAKE: SPEZZA RETURN
I asked everyone on Twitter if Spezza's return would change the dynamic of this series. Obviously, a lot will depend on how well he can play after a 3.5-month absence following back surgery. His timing and conditioning will not be at its peak. And there is no way of telling how his back will respond to the physical punishment of playoff hockey.
That all said, there's no doubt he'll be running on pure adrenaline tonight. And to dismiss his return as a non-factor would be dangerous. He will certainly have an impact. With Spezza, the Senators are stronger down the middle and have two solid lines to throw at the Penguins. With two strong lines, the pairing of Orpik-Martin can't just concentrate on Turris' line. So it negates what has been a great matchup advantage for the Pens. And Spezza will also help on the Sens power play - where he will have more time and space to work the puck and make plays.
Spezza has been a Penguin killer in his career. He's posted 42 points (16G-26A) in 33 career games against Pittsburgh. For whatever reason he's always been successful against the Pens.
All that said, Spezza is a game-changer type of player. But he's not a series-changer. His addition, no matter how well he plays, will give the Senators a boost. But I don't think it will be enough to make a difference in the series. I still see the Pens moving on - but I could be proven wrong.
Tanger and Iggy had an animated conversation as they headed out to practice
Morrow and his playoff beard
"Lazy" and Geno
The captain with a big smile on his face
Iggy surrounded by a bunch of towels
Fleury and the guys horsing around
Letang sprays some snow
The captain waiting his turn...
To do line rushes
Adams and TK were doing rushes at the other end
Zoomed out view of morning skate
MORNING SKATE DEETS
Joe Vitale was absent from the Pens morning skate at Scotiabank Place. Tanner Glass took his spot in the line rushes. On the back end, Mark Eaton skated with Douglas Murray in place of Deryk Engelland. Pens policy in the playoffs is that they won't discuss the lineup, so we'll see tonight if these groupings hold.
Paul Martin looks like he is trying to sneak up on Tanner Glass
Geno is always the last one off the bus
Spezza skating with Conacher and Michalek at the Sens morning skate. Turris now centering Silfverberg and Alfie. All signs are a go for Spezza. He definitely makes Ottawa much deeper at center. We'll see how he performs tonight.
--Sam Kasan START ME UP
Good morning Pens fans! The Pens and Sens meet in Game 3 of the their second round series at 7:30 p.m. at Scotiabank Place tonight. The Pens hit the ice at 11:30 a.m., while Ottawa has the ice at 10:30 a.m. 10:15 a.m. We'll bring you all the latest news to get you ready for tonight. So stay tuned...
We're going to open the day with the Kooks' "Naive." It's a pretty awesome jam, an upbeat tempo, but with pained lyrics.
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