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Spezza returns tonight

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Spezza told coach Bryan Murray during the pre-game skate at the Bell Sensplex this morning he would be ready for tonight.

by Todd Anderson

Centre Jason Spezza will be back in the lineup tonight when the Ottawa Senators host the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Spezza told coach Bryan Murray during the pre-game skate at the Bell Sensplex this morning he would be ready for tonight.

"Just as we were doing line rushes he told me he felt good," Murray said. "He's dressing for the game."

Spezza has been looking forward to this day for quite some time. He suffered the pulled chest muscle injury on Dec. 20 against the Montreal Canadiens and played in just one game -- against the Atlanta Thrashers on Jan. 2 -- out of the next 13.

"It's good to be back. I feel good. We'll see where I play, but wherever Bryan puts me, I'm just glad to be playing."

Spezza skated on a line with Brian McGrattan and Antoine Vermette this morning but Murray still wasn't sure where Spezza would be slotted in tonight.

"When the puck drops, we'll make adjustments."

Spezza said he didn't play on a line with McGrattan last year in Binghamton but the two did skate together on occasion during their days in the Ontario Hockey League with the Mississauga Ice Dogs.

Meanwhile, rookie Brandon Bochenski is close to being available but will miss tonight's game with a bruised shoulder.

Sens coach faces former club

Murray is looking forward to facing Anaheim for the first time since resigning from his president and general manager position there to accept the head coach job in Ottawa on June 8, 2004.

"It's always interesting and fun, in particular to see the young guys you drafted and see how they are coming along. It's nice to say ‘hi' in the morning and beat them at night. I hope those players really do well in their careers. I really mean that."

Murray added that he expects a quick game tonight and he's impressed with Anaheim's speed, young talent and ability to move the puck. He also singled out Teemu Selanne, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Andy McDonald, Scott Niedermayer, and youngsters Joffrey Lupul, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as top talents to keep an eye on.

Spezza 1-0 as an assistant coach

Spezza worked the bench as an assistant coach for Bobby Orr's team in last night's Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game held at Scotiabank Place.

"I talked to him yesterday after his coaching debut," said Murray. "He thought coaching was an easy job."

Orr's team beat Don Cherry's 7-2. The game featured some of the top NHL draft-eligible players from North America. Spezza participated in the game in 2001 as the top-rated player in North America.

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