Sens' big three on a roll
Almost too outlandish to even consider, perhaps.
But at least one set of numbers suggest otherwise. Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (1.49) and his two linemates, Jason Spezza (1.42) and Dany Heatley (1.40), currently rank 1-2-3 in points per game in the National Hockey League.
Given that they’ve missed a combined 24 games because of injuries, that’s not where you’ll find the Senators’ dynamic trio in the volatile NHL scoring race. Alfredsson shares second spot with the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins sophomore Evgeni Malkin, each with 73 points – three back of league leader Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
Spezza, who was named today the NHL’s first star for the week ending Feb. 10 – he collected 11 points in three games – ranks fifth with 71. Heatley is down in 13th spot (63), but has racked up seven points in his first two outings since returning from a separated shoulder that sidelined him for 11 games.
But it was fun fodder for a day, at least, to consider the possibilities had injuries not taken a bite out of each of the three’s season at some point.
“With the team winning and us playing together all year healthy, I think we’d have a chance,” Spezza said when asked about the prospect of the Senators’ big three lining up at the top of the NHL’s scoring leaders someday. “There’s some other guys who would have a lot to say about that – (Sidney) Crosby, (Vincent) Lecavalier and some other guys who are big point guys.
“But I’m not saying there wouldn’t be a chance of it (happening).”
Playing together for the first time in four weeks, the Senators’ No. 1 line accounted for the goals and a combined 15 points in Saturday’s big 6-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place. And to hear them tell it, the combination of a big night individually and collectively wasn’t exactly mere coincidence.
“The most important thing for us is to worry about winning,” said Spezza, who’s missed six games this season because of injuries. “When we’re winning, we’re all getting lots of points.
“So it’s probably just better for us to just focus on wins and losses… we do better anyways when we’re winning.”
Added Heatley; “Our big focus is to keep playing well and win games but obviously, our job is to be offensive and keep putting up points.”
And they’ll often come in bunches, like they did Saturday night. Alfredsson, for one, can see more of the same the rest of the way, which would surely keep at least him and Spezza in the thick of the Art Ross Trophy race.
“I don’t see why not, if we stay healthy,” he said. “I don’t think (the scoring race) is something we think about every day. We just try to go out there and do the little things, try to help the team win. If we win a lot of games down the stretch, I’m sure we’re going to get lots of points.”
The Senators also hope to get more strong efforts from goaltender Ray Emery, who was sharp in Saturday’s win over Montreal and goes for a third straight win Tuesday night when the Buffalo Sabres visit Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
“He’s played real solid the last two (games),” said Heatley. “Early on, we were up 2-0, 3-0 against Montreal, but they had a few chances and he made some saves to keep them out of the game. He played real well and looks sharp in there.”
Centre Mike Fisher left practice early Monday for what head coach John Paddock called “precautionary” reasons. “He felt like he tweaked something,” Paddock said of Fisher, who missed games with groin and abdominal injuries this season. “I’d say there’s some chance he couldn’t (play Tuesday) when he leaves practice early, but it’s just precautionary right now.”