Friday, January 18, 2008

The Puck Stops Here: Senators Special

This is not the regular Thursday column, there was a new entry yesterday and will be another next Thursday. However, this is an important matter that should be handled immediately. The Ottawa Senators may be facing a nightmare situation. Over the weekend they lost Dany Heatley to a shoulder separation and Thursday night they lost Daniel Alfredsson to what looks to be a hip flexor injury.

You can expect Heatley to be out about a month. Doctors say 6 weeks, but I expect less because shoulder separations don’t hurt very much beyond a day or two after. The time period is purely precautionary and every athlete wants to get back in action as soon as possible. Alfredsson is a bigger question mark, a hip flexor injury does not sound very serious. However, it is the type of injury that may linger for weeks and can really hamper a hockey player. Think pulled groin, or in football terms, your stud receiver or running back having hamstring issues.

If Alfredsson does miss extended action, you have to lower you expectations for all Senators. They will be without two top 15 players. This can only mean a drop in production especially for Spezza who has grown accustom to having both stud players as line mates. You cannot lose two players of their caliber without a significant drop in production.

On the flip side, I do expect Antoine Vermette’s production to increase. He will find himself on the top unit, he will see an increase in ice time and should be able to increase his production. If I have to pick a dark horse to increase his production, it is Patrick Eaves. He was injured all of December and returned Tuesday night from an injury. When he has been paired with talent he has been able to produce. If he plays with Spezza and Vermette he will be valuable until Alfredsson and Heatley return.

Good luck dealing with these injuries, take advantage of players who will profit from these injuries.

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