Regin becoming centre of attention
Danish prospect finding a good fit between Fisher, Kovalev
|Alex Kovalev (right), shown at Senators practice today with Milan Michalek, has moved into the left-wing slot alongside the red-hot duo of Peter Regin and Mike Fisher.
"He's one of those guys you want to watch when you watch hockey," said the 23-year-old Danish centre, who admits to watching Kovalev every chance he gets.
Imagine, then, the emotions that must have been churning inside Regin earlier today as he skated on a line between Kovalev and Mike Fisher during the Senators' morning practice session at Scotiabank Place.
Surreal? Maybe just a little.
"It's exciting," Regin said with a grin afterward. "I have been a big fan of his for the past 15 years. So it's exciting to be on the ice with him.
"Last year, when I was down in Binghamton (in the American Hockey League), we wanted to watch Ottawa. But if they were not on TV, we wanted to watch Montreal and Washington and watch Kovalev and (Alex) Ovechkin and those guys."
What is very real, however, is the growing possibility that Regin will start the 2009-10 season as the man in the middle between Kovalev and Fisher. Senators head coach Cory Clouston acknowledged there's a very good chance that could be his No. 2 line on opening night Oct. 3 against the New York Rangers behind his top trio of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.
Regin surely likes the sound of that, though he's not getting ahead of himself just yet.
"I'm still trying to make this team," he said. "Definitely, it's nice to get a chance to play with good players. I'm happy about that. But we still have a lot of guys here and there are a couple of weeks yet before (opening night). I'm just taking it one day at a time and now, we have a practice tomorrow and a game Friday (against the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place).
"I'll do my best there and, hopefully, I'll stick around. I'm very happy that I'm still here and I'm happy about my camp so far. But I know that they'll judge me every day and I have to perform every day. That's the way it is."
Senators management no doubt has been impressed by the chemistry that has quickly developed between Regin and Fisher, a natural centre who has produced four goals in the last two pre-season games from the right wing.
"(Regin) has done a great job," said Fisher. "He's played very well at both ends of the ice and created a lot of opportunities for both of us... They want to see guys in different positions. They want to see Pete at centre. It's been going well, so why change it?"
Added Regin: "I think (Fisher) is making me better. He's a great player. I played with him for a little while when I was called up last year and he helped me out then, too. He's done a lot of good things for me."
"He spent a year in the American league," Clouston said of Regin. "He played 11 games up (in Ottawa) last season and spent a couple of years in the elite league in Sweden (with Timra IK). So he's not a 19-year-old coming over here. He's 23 years old.
"We think Peter has been developing for the last three or four years (to play at) this level. Does that mean he's going to have ups and downs? Absolutely. He's not going to be at a high level the whole time. But we think he's very ready, or very close to being ready to be a regular."
Regin, meanwhile, will savour this opportunity to line up up beside the player he's admired for more than half a lifetime.
"He's a great guy, that's first thing," he said of Kovalev. "He's a nice guy. As a player, he's so patient with the puck and he's got some hands that not many guys in this league have."
They're also a good match in Clouston's eyes.
"I think those two guys have played well together on the penalty kill," he said. "They communicate on the bench well. They've done an excellent job of reading and reacting and communicating. I think both of them could create some chemistry."
Around the boards
Other line combinations spotted at practice today: Nick Foligno-Ryan Shannon-Jonathan Cheechoo, Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil, and Christoph Schubert-Zack Smith-Shean Donovan. Defence pairings: Chris Phillips-Anton Volchenkov; Filip Kuba-Erik Karlsson; Chris Campoli-Alex Picard, and Brian Lee-Matt Carkner ... While none of the above is yet cast in stone, Clouston said "there's a good chance a good chunk of those lines and D-pairings will be together" to start the season ... The pre-season finale against the Bruins is a 7 p.m. start Friday at Scotiabank Place.