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Spezza hoping for a world of opportunity

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Jason Spezza has won two silver medals with Team Canada at the IIHF World Men's Hockey Championship. He'd like to get the opportunity to upgrade that to a gold at the 2011 global tourney, which begins April 29 in Slovakia (Photo by HHOF/IIHF Images).

Jason Spezza has a golden goal.

The Ottawa Senators centre is hopeful he'll get the opportunity to extend his season with Team Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship, which begins April 29 in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.

His motivation for doing so couldn't be any simpler.

"My main reason for going is I've won two silvers (in 2008 and 2009) and I really want to win a gold medal," Spezza said following Senators practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "I'd like to be a part of it and I'd like to win a gold medal ... hopefully, they want to include me there."

Two years ago, Spezza, defenceman Chris Phillips and former Sens teammates Mike Fisher and Dany Heatley all wore the red maple leaf in Switzerland. All were immediately available because the Senators missed the playoffs in 2009, a fate that also awaits the current Ottawa team.

"It's a different feeling," Spezza said of participating in the hockey worlds. "You always go there a little bit disappointed but as the tournament goes on, you get a bond with the guys there. It feels like it’s playoffs, it’s feels like you’re playing for the same kind of thing that the guys in the (Stanley Cup) playoffs are.

"After a year like this, maybe I’m looking forward to it a little bit more because it’s nice to play some meaningful hockey down the stretch."

Spezza, who's missed 20 games this season with groin and right shoulder injuries, has been on fire offensively since returning from the latter ailment on Feb. 7, producing 19 points in his last 17 games. He's hoping his strong play of late catches the eyes of Toronto Maple Leafs executive Dave Nonis, who will reportedly be named Team Canada's general manager.

"I missed 20 games this year," said the 27-year-old Toronto native. "I’m feeling pretty good right now, I’m playing lots of minutes and I’d like to extend my season. I’m hoping I get the call. But stuff like that is always out of your hands."

He knows exactly what he'd like to have in his hands if he heads overseas to join Team Canada in time for its April 29 tournament opener against Belarus in Kosice. The final is set for May 15 in Bratislava.

"The gold is what motivates me right now," said Spezza. "I don’t have one, I’d like one and I want to get a chance to try to win. That’s my No. 1 motivation for wanting to go right now."

Other Senators likely to get the call for worlds include forward Nick Foligno, who represented the United States at the last two tournaments, and defenceman Erik Karlsson, who suited up for Sweden last year.

Around the boards

Goaltender Craig Anderson didn't practise today for "maintenance" reasons, but Senators head coach Cory Clouston remains confident he'll have his No. 1 goaltender available for Thursday night's contest against the New Jersey Devils at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). "We hope not (but) it's a possibility," Clouston said in reference to an ailment that struck Anderson during Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. "We hope it's not that severe. I don't think it is." ... Forward Zack Smith (flu) also was absent from today's on-ice session ... Defenceman Matt Carkner, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee last week, is likely out for another four weeks. "There's a good chance he's going to be done for the season," said Clouston ... The Senators returned forward Jim O'Brien and blueliner Andre Benoit to their American Hockey League affiiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. Both will see action with the B-Sens against the Adirondack Phantoms tonight. Clouston said the Senators will decide later tonight which two callups return to Ottawa for the game against the Devils ... The Tampa Bay Lightning visit Scotiabank Place on Saturday (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

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