Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/30/13
Even by a tough guy’s standards, the face of Senators winger Chris Neil has had a hellish month. There was that errant puck that broke his nose and blackened his eye during a game in Los Angeles Oct. 9, then an elbow to the battered beak last week in Detroit. On Sunday at home against the San Jose Sharks, as Neil was driving to the net late in the game, the stick of Zack Smith came up and cut him above the lip, toward the corner of his mouth. “A fluke accident,” Neil said. Trainers glued that cut shut so he could continue to play. The stick loosened a couple of teeth, but didn’t break any. “In Detroit, I initiated the hit and (a Red Wings player) kind of caught me with a forearm shiver.” Now, beneath the twisted nose he sports a grubby beard because he doesn’t want to shave near that cut. Neil isn’t a fan of stubble, but it’s the preferred option to scraping a razor blade near a cut. “It’s been taking a bit of a beating, but it comes with the territory,” Neil says of his October face. On the bright side, Neil is all set for Halloween festivities Thursday. “I don’t have to dress up,” said Neil, smiling. RYAN BACK WITH SPEZZA Not surprisingly considering a two-game losing streak on home ice, Senators head coach Paul MacLean reunited winger Bobby Ryan with centre Jason Spezza to face the Blackhawks. “We’ll see if we get a little spark,” MacLean said. “As we said earlier, maybe if we break them up and put them back together something happens. We’ll see if that’s the case (vs Chicago), if not we can always go back to what we had before, Bobby with Kyle (Turris) and Clarke (MacArthur).” Spezza seemed enthused about getting Ryan back, after losing him as a winger during Game 5 of the season in Anaheim. Spezza hoped that the line – with Milan Michalek on the other side – might work better now that Spezza’s groin injury has healed. “We played together earlier in the year and I was a bit banged up so we probably didn’t get a full look at how we’d be together,” Spezza said. “So, we’re getting another opportunity, hopefully we can make the most of it.” There appears to be a produce-or-else flavour to the reunion. “If we’re going to play together, we have to try to drive the team offensively,” Spezza said. “When we’re split up, we have to play a little bit more by committee. And if we’re going to play together, we have to be good offensively and also be good against other teams’ top lines.”
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