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Volchenkov ready to roll

Wednesday, 01.2.2008 / 3:45 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Volchenkov ready to roll
Anton Volchenkov is a fearless shot-blocking machine.

Teammates marvel at the way the burly Ottawa Senators defenceman plays the game, with a relentless fury that has made him a key anchor on the team’s blue line.

“He’s a big cornerstone on our defence,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said of the big Russian. “It’s great that he’s coming back. We’ve definitely missed him.”

After sitting out 15 games while mending a broken right index finger, Volchenkov will make his much-anticipated return to the Senators lineup on Friday night in Buffalo against the Sabres (7:30 p.m., Sens TV, Team 1200).

“It's still a little sore, but I’m ready to play,” Volchenkov said after Wednesday’s optional team skate at Scotiabank Place. “I’ll play Friday in Buffalo.”

Volchenkov suffered the injury while blocking a shot by the Nashville Predators’ J.P. Dumont back on Nov. 29. But he doesn’t plan to alter his style of play in the least, though he might wear some extra padding in his glove to protect his finger.

“I’ll still play the same way, blocking shots,” Volchenkov said with a gap-toothed grin. “No big change in my game.”

He admitted it’s been frustrating sitting on the sidelines, especially during the past two games – 8-6 and 6-3 losses to the Washington Capitals.

“It’s 15 games (out), it’s tough to watch,” he said. “It’s pretty hard just practising for four weeks. But I’m in good shape now and I’m ready to play.”

Needless to say, the return of Volchenkov – who averages 20:45 of playing time per game – is welcome news for the rest of the Senators’ blue-line corps.

“He’s a great defensive presence for us,” said veteran Wade Redden. “After the last couple of games, it’ll be good to get him back playing and contributing again.”

The team’s goaltenders appreciate what Volchenkov brings to the rink, too.

“(Volchenkov) is a guy who plays the game like nobody else,” said Martin Gerber. “He blocks the big shots and battles hard in front of the net. It’s always good to have a guy like that come back, for sure.”

Senators head coach John Paddock calls Volchenkov “a premier defensive defenceman,” and said his return should provide a steadying effect on the back end.

“It settles down some of the running around we’ve had in our zone,” said Paddock. “What’s always impressed me the past two or three years is his effectiveness without taking penalties. He seems to have that knack and strength to stick check and get the stick over the top and control guys in the corners.”

While Volchenkov is confident about his fitness level, despite the five-week layoff, Paddock cautioned against expecting him to be up to speed from the opening whistle on Friday night.

“He’ll be a little bit rusty,” said Paddock. “There will be concerns with (his sharpness) until he gets back into the flow.”

Paddock hasn’t decided yet whether the return of Volchenkov means Christoph Schubert immediately gets bumped back up to a forward position.

“It’ll just unfold tomorrow or Friday,” he said.

Meanwhile, forward Patrick Eaves, who’s been out since Nov. 21 with a separated shoulder, is moving closer to making his return.

“We’re hopeful for this time next week,” said Paddock. “He hasn’t practised with us yet, and I’ve heard that’s not happening in the next couple of days. So we’ll see on Monday where he’s at … That’ll be a good gauge, if he’s able to skate with us (Monday).”


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ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
2 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
3 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
4 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
5 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
6 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
7 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
8 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 54 11 48 9 59
B. Ryan 53 19 26 -2 45
M. Hoffman 50 23 18 5 41
M. Stone 52 16 25 -10 41
M. Zibanejad 53 11 22 -1 33
K. Turris 48 13 17 -11 30
J. Pageau 54 13 10 6 23
Z. Smith 53 11 5 7 16
C. Ceci 47 5 11 -1 16
C. Lazar 49 5 9 0 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 22 17 4 .914 2.86
A. Hammond 3 5 2 .900 3.10