Ottawa’s opponent for the next round of the playoffs could be determined as early as Saturday night, when the Pittsburgh Penguins, with a 3-2 lead, try to finish off the New York Islanders.

But there’s a more important question on the mind of Ottawa’s fans: Will Jason Spezza return for the second round?

It appears there’s a chance.

Out since he had back surgery on Feb. 1, Spezza has entered the next stage of his rehabilitation and is now skating with the Black Aces, the reserve players, according to general manager Bryan Murray.

“He’s skating much harder, competing much better, and feeling much stronger,” Murray told The Team 1200 on Friday.

“Skating with the Black Aces is a more serious involvement for him.
“He’s got to practice a few times with the team before (coach) Paul (MacLean) thinks about making a change, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Certainly the schedule is in Spezza’s favour.

Depending on how long the other series go, the Senators might not start their next series until Wednesday or Thursday.

That will effectively give Spezza an extra week to get ready.