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|2 января 2008 года.
Senators happy to get Volchenkov back // Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA - Defenceman Anton Volchenkov will be back in the Ottawa Senators' lineup against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, and his return couldn't come at a better time for the team.
The shutdown specialist and shot-blocker extraordinaire, who missed 15 games with a broken index finger, will be asked to help dam the flood of goals that have splashed into the Ottawa net this week. In two straight losses to the Washington Capitals, the Senators gave up 14 goals.
Senators coach John Paddock will be happy to have the big Russian back.
"He's a premier defensive defenceman," Paddock said following a sparsely attended optional skate Wednesday. "He can settle down some of the running around we've had in our zone. What has always impressed me the most the last two or three years is his effectiveness without taking penalties."
Paddock expects Volchenkov to be a bit rusty after a month off, so he suggested people temper their expectations.
Volchenkov was injured while blocking a shot against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 29. While the Senators put up a 9-4-2 record in his absence, they weren't the same squad defensively.
In 24 games with Volchenkov in the lineup, the Senators held their opponents to an average of 2.54 goals per game. Without him, that number ballooned to 3.13. When he went down, he was again leading the league in blocked shots (96) and was eating up almost 21 minutes of ice time a game.
Volchenkov said Wednesday his still-swollen finger isn't 100 per cent, but it's good enough to play. He won't wear a cast, but may tape his index and middle fingers together for comfort.
He was all smiles at the prospect of finally seeing some game action.
"Oh, yeah, sure" said Volchenkov. "It's pretty hard, four weeks of practices, you know, it's not easy ... but [the finger's] in good shape now and I'm ready to play."
Volchenkov said it wasn't easy watching the team's ups and downs since he was hurt, including the 8-6 and 6-3 defeats to the Capitals this week.
"It's  games and it's tough to watch ... you sit with the coach watching the game," he said. "It's a little bit different."
Senators defenceman Wade Redden said it'll be nice to see Volchenkov bring some energy to the team and re-unite with Chris Phillips as one of the NHL's top shut-down duos.
"After the last couple of games, it'll be good to add him in and get him back playing and contributing again," Redden said. "He has a big body and gets in the way of a lot of shots for sure, so yeah, it'll get everything back on queue again."
One player especially pleased to see Volchenkov return is goaltender Martin Gerber. The Swiss puckstopper was torched for seven goals in the first game against Washington and was furious when he was pulled from the second game after giving up three goals in less than eight minutes.
"He's a guy who ... plays this game like nobody else," Gerber said. "I think he blocks big shots and he's really battling hard in front of the net. It's always good to have a guy like him come back, that's for sure."
The Senators could also get some help from Patrick Eaves in the next seven days. Eaves has missed 19 games with a separated shoulder, but Paddock said he was hopeful the winger would be back on the roster at this time next week.