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'Nagging injury' slows Spezza

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators centre Jason Spezza is hopeful he'll be in the lineup on Thursday night, when the Nashville Predators visit Scotiabank Place (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images).

Jason Spezza won't even consider using it as an excuse for his slow season start in the scoring department.

But something is clearly nagging at the Ottawa Senators centre as he and his teammates prepare to face off against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).

Spezza made an early exit from the Senators' practice earlier today with what he later described as "a little bit of bumps and bruises."

"I'll rest up and hopefully be good to go (Thursday)," Spezza added.

But he also acknowledged that it's a problem he'd like to see taken care of sooner rather than later, so that it doesn't affect his play too far into the season. Spezza has totalled just four assists in the Senators' first seven games this season but said his ailment is "no excuse" for his lack of goal production so far.

"It's a bit of a nagging injury," said Spezza, the team's No. 1 centre. "It's been bugging me a bit and that's why I'm trying to take care of it right now. We'll kind of evaluate (things) as the next couple of days go on and see how I feel."

Senators head coach Cory Clouston listed Spezza as "probable" for Thursday's matchup with the Predators but added "we're not sure yet."

"There have been a couple of issues that he's had," said Clouston. "He hasn't been 100 per cent healthy since the start of the season."

Peter Regin, who has missed the past three games himself with an upper-body injury, assumed Spezza's spot between Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo for the latter portion of today's practice. The rookie centre said he's ready to fill the void Thursday night if needed.

"I'll play wherever Cory wants me to play," said Regin. "I've been skating with the team for a couple of days now. It shouldn't be a problem coming back."

"It's a bit of a nagging injury. It's been bugging me a bit and that's why I'm trying to take care of it right now. We'll kind of evaluate (things) as the next couple of days go on and see how I feel." - Jason Spezza
Meanwhile, the wait continues for veteran defenceman Filip Kuba, who has missed all but one game this season with what Clouston described today as an injury to his "hip, groin and pelvis issue." There remains no timetable for his return.

"We don't know exactly what is causing what," said Clouston. "One day, it'll be a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We've just got to get everything strengthened and settled down before we can say a whole lot more.

"It's like when you have back problems. Some days, you wake up and you feel outstanding and you go for a skate and everything’s good. The next morning, you’re back to square one almost. (Kuba) is making definite improvements, he is making strides but we’re just not quite sure how he’s going to feel day-to-day. I think he’s had some problems in the past, so we just want to make sure we have everything under control before we go forward."

Around the boards

As is customary, Clouston will wait until game day before naming his starting goaltender against the Predators. But he has suggested backup Brian Elliott will see action in one of the next two games, either tomorrow or Saturday against the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) ... Fewer than 1,500 tickets remain for Thursday's game with the Predators. It's another Subway Savings Game, with all regular-priced tickets available at 20 per cent off.

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