Imagine if the Buffalo Sabres best offensive player was out of the lineup for possibly the rest of the regular season. Actually let's not because I don't want to think what the Sabres record would be without Thomas Vanek.
The Ottawa Senators are dealing with that nightmare and its left their offense in a deep freeze. Jason Spezza tried to play through back pain but couldn't make it past the fifth game of the season. He underwent surgery on a herniated disc and he might not return until the playoffs. That is if the Senators can make the playoffs, without a player who has averaged just over a point a game in his NHL career.
Spezza has 621 points in 611 regular season games. In four of the last six seasons, he topped the 30 goal mark. Spezza scored at least 20 goals in the other two seasons.
Ottawa actually won their first two games after Spezza left the lineup and scored eight goals while beating Washington and Montreal. Maybe reality set in at that point because the Senators have managed just seven goals in the last five games while recording a 1-3-1 record.
Four of those seven goals came in the victory over the Sabres at Scotia Bank Place last week. Before that came a 1-0 loss at Carolina and a 2-1 defeat at Montreal. After the offensive explosion against the Sabres, Ottawa suffered a 3-2 overtime setback to the Hurricanes and were shutout for the second time in five games, losing 1-0 to Winnipeg this past Saturday.
Ottawa has scored just five even strength goals over the last five games with three coming against the Sabres. The power play has hit the skids as well going 2 for the last 15 chances.
A couple of players will need to thaw out and fast. Milan Michalek hasn't scored a goal in his last six games and has only two on the season. Michalek scored 35 last season.
Kyle Turris was a pleasant surprise last season, with 12 goals in 49 games, and was one of key factors in the Senators surprising run to a playoff spot. Turris has gone eight games without a goal.
There's a good chance Daniel Alfredsson will register a goal tonight. When Alfredsson scored against the Sabres last week, it was his 43rd career goal in 87 games against the Blue and Gold. It moved the Senators captain past Jaromir Jagr and into first place all time for most career goals scored against the Sabres.