Foligno eager to face Avs
Sens left-winger being eased into return after knee surgery
|After missing six games following arthroscopic knee surgery, Senators forward Nick Foligno is anxious to face the Colorado Avalanche tonight (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).
Nick Foligno will gladly settle for fourth-line duty tonight.
At least he's finally back in the game.
Less than two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, the Senators left-winger makes his return to the lineup as Ottawa faces off against the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). Foligno missed the last seven games and required a Dec. 18 procedure to repair a small meniscus tear in his right knee.
Foligno's return comes two days shy of the two weeks he was originally projected to be sidelined. But in the third-year Senators forward's mind, it couldn't have come soon enough.
"I’m excited," he said earlier today. "It’s been hard to watch. They’ve been doing well, so it’s been pretty easy to watch. But I definitely want to play. That’s why I’m playing this game and I’m looking forward to getting back with the guys."
Senators head coach Cory Clouston plans to ease Foligno back into game action, targeting him for fourth-line work alongside Jesse Winchester and Shean Donovan, meaning his ice time will be closely monitored tonight.
"His conditioning is the big thing," said Clouston. "I don’t think he’s quite ready to play 17 or 18 minutes. We’re going to make sure he’s put in situations where he can have success and he’s eased in a little bit."
That's fine with Foligno, who doesn't want to upset any of the momentum the Senators (20-15-4) have gained in gritty back-to-back victories over the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens.
"We’ve got to stick to that game plan we’ve been using. I just want to fit in where I need to be in that game plan. Hopefully, it’s to help on the scoreboard and ease the pressure off a lot of guys right now. That’s the kind of job I want to do."
While captain Daniel Alfredsson (separated shoulder) and No. 1 centre Jason Spezza (knee) remain sidelined with long-term injuries, Foligno's return will go a long way toward bolstering the Senators' attack up front.
"It's a boost for us," said Senators centre Mike Fisher. "He started to play really well before he got hurt. He wasn't away for too long and he's right back at it. He'll be a big part of our team going forward and we know we definitely need (healthy) bodies."
Around the boards
Pascal Leclaire, a standout for the Senators in Monday's victory over the Habs, makes his fourth straight start in goal ... The Northeast Division-leading Avalanche (22-12-6) last played in Ottawa on Oct. 19, 2006, posting a 2-1 victory ... Colorado hits the halfway point in its schedule tonight, while the Senators hit that milestone Thursday night, when the New York Islanders visit Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) ... Fewer than 2,000 tickets remain for tonight's matchup, while 4,000 are left for the New Year's Eve game against the Isles.