The team won't rule out the chance his 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut will come Sunday.
Coach Paul MacLean said he expects Spezza to join the team for what figures to be an optional practice in Ottawa on Saturday. Spezza, who hasn't played since Jan. 27 because of a back injury that required surgery, has been skating on his own in Ottawa in recent days and MacLean reported the center is making progress.
"We will see him [Saturday] and we'll go through [Saturday's] practice and the pregame skate for Sunday and we'll see where it is," MacLean said after the morning skate Friday at Consol Energy Center. "But if he's available to us, you know, it's Jason Spezza. We're going to have him in the lineup if he's available."
"The best thing I can tell you is that James Neal never played the right side when he got here," Bylsma said. "He said, 'I only play the left.' I said, 'That's great, that's four or five minutes a game you won't be playing with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby.'
"He circled back around and he said, 'Hey, I'll try the right.'"
Bylsma's point was that forwards can make it work if put in the right situation -- even if on an unfamiliar wing. And with the Penguins tending to stick with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis as Crobsy's wings, that leaves Neal and Iginla for Malkin.
Nice consolation prize. From one Hart Trophy winner to another as your center.
"I've been really lucky to get a chance to play with both Sid and Geno," said Iginla, who was acquired from the Calgary Flames in a March 28 trade. "The lines do shake up however the flow of the game is gong. We're prepared to play whatever the dynamic is."
PITTSBURGH -- Over the 48 hours since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean has taken virtually any opportunity to talk about how his team's competition level and physicality needed to improve if they had a chance of beating the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Enter 6 feet, 2 inches and 230 pounds of competition level and physicality.
"I'm pretty excited, that's for sure, and very happy to have a chance to play again and be part of the team," Latendresse said.
PITTSBURGH -- While not flatly ruling hulking defenseman Eric Grybe out for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators coach coach Paul MacLean said the team has contingency plans for who might take Gryba's place.
"If Gryba's not available, [Mike] Lundin and [Andre] Benoit are here with us," MacLean said after an optional practice Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. "[Patrick] Wiercioch, right now, I'd say is not available with a lower-body injury, but we'll have discussions on that."
Gryba left the ice after a collision with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik late during the second period of Pittsburgh's 4-1 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday. The Senators said he has an upper-body injury that will be evaluated.
PITTSBURGH -- The raw numbers are striking -- and strikingly simple.
So the seventh-seeded Senators know what style of play they will turn to in hopes of succeeding in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 1 is Tuesday ((7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN) here at Consol Energy Center.
"Giving them odd-man rushes, with their skill, is not going to work to our favor," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "So we want to play a disciplined game -- but also not just play a passive game. We want to get engaged and get the forecheck going. That's how we're going to generate our chances."
PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Kennedy will be keeping his spot in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup when the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators opens Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said it's not just because of Kennedy's inspired play late in the previous round, either.
During the morning skate in advance of Game 1 Tuesday, Pittsburgh showed the same line combinations and defense pairings it did during practice Monday. That means the only apparent change from the lineup Bylsma employed for victories in Games 5 and 6 of the first-round win against the New York Islanders is Deryk Engelland in for Simon Despres on defense.
"It's not just what happened in the first round for our team and the players who played in the first round when it comes to our lineup and the decisions we make," Bylsma said.
Tomas Vokoun informed reporters Tuesday morning that he would be the team's starting goaltender against the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).
"I'm not surprised," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He played really well in what was a tough situation to come into like he did last series. He came in after having not played in a while and shut the door."
With the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the teams starting Tuesday, issues surrounding Cooke and the Senators -- Cooke is blamed for the Achilles injury that sidelined Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson for more than two months -- have become an afterthought among the players.
"That's all outside the locker room," Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis said. "It's media, it's Twitter, it's Facebook. It's not stuff that [concerns us]."
"The off-ice stuff and accusations and that stuff, it does not play into the series for our team," added Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "We're definitely not going to make it a part of the series for our team. Whether there's emotion there on their side -- I don't think so. I think they'll be focused on winning four hockey games."
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby went to the dressing room with two minutes to play in the second period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Islanders after blocking a shot with his left foot.
The team provided no immediate update on his condition or status.