Sens in for Turin

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Blue-line partners earlier this week in Montreal, Zdeno Chara was asked about the chances he'd be lined up alongside Andrej Meszaros again at the Olympics.

"I don't know if we'll play together," Chara said yesterday morning, before raising his voice so the rookie Senator could hear. "I don't know if you'll take me."

Meszaros grinned wide, just as he did after trying to convince reporters he was unaware of whether he had been named to Team Slovakia yesterday morning.

Meszaros and Chara -- who is once again a strong Norris Trophy candidate as the NHL's best defenceman -- were both named to their homeland's national team for the Turin Games, the first time the Slovaks won't have to participate in the qualifying round.

Also, Dominik Hasek was officially listed as a goaltender for the Czechs and Daniel Alfredsson was named to Team Sweden.

Anton Volchenkov was still waiting confirmation of his inclusion on Team Russia, which the Senators defenceman says should be strong.

"Last time we won bronze, before that silver," said Volchenkov. "Maybe this time, gold. Why not?"

The Senators have discovered their own nugget of gold in Meszaros, who last season played as a junior in the WHL and three months ago was on the bubble to make their team.

Heading into last night's games, the curly-locked 20-year-old was tied for the NHL plus-minus lead with teammate Dany Heatley, at plus-25. He also had two goals and 13 assists in 31 games, the most recent of which he saw 26:26 of ice time as Chara's partner.

"It'll be great, (playing in the Olympics) is something that's good for every athlete," said Meszaros, who was back on the third defence unit last night against the Flyers, with Chris Phillips returning from a bout with the flu.

"I wasn't focusing on making the (Olympic) team, the (Senators) games was my first goal, but now that I have it's exciting."

Toying with line combinations in his mind for fun, Alfredsson saw Peter Forsberg playing with Markus Naslund and Henrik Zetterberg and himself skating with Mats Sundin and Fredrik Modin. Nice one-two punch, isn't it?

"We've got a good chance (to win), we've got a really good team," said Alfredsson. "It all depends on whether we can come together quickly in the short tournament."

Between their pipes, the Swedes will rely on Rangers rookie Henrik Lundqvist.

"Lundqvist is having a great year (with the Rangers) and he has played really well in Swedish leagues for a few years," said Alfredsson. "He's solid. Even though he's a rookie, he has lots of experience."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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