A-Train off rail?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

TAMPA -- Anton Volchenkov was conspicuous by his absence yesterday as the Senators went through a light workout at the St. Pete Times Forum.

And there's a chance he won't be in the lineup tonight as the Senators make the third stop in their four-game road trip against the Tampa Bay Lightning (5 p.m., A-Channel).

While Volchenkov's ailment is being called a "lower body" injury by the club, indications are this is something that's been nagging the Senators blueliner. After the first period of Friday's 6-4 victory over the Florida Panthers, the decision was made to take him out.

But a decision on Volchenkov's status for tonight's game against the Lightning won't be made until later today. He has told coach Bryan Murray he wants to play but with Christoph Schubert available as a blue-line fill-in, the Senators won't chance making the injury any worse.

"I'm not sure if it's wise to play him or not, but he's one of the people (who says) if he can play, he will play," said Murray. "We don't want it to be something that goes on for a long time."

BEST BLUELINER

The "A-Train" has been the club's best and most solid blueliner after coming into camp with the attitude he had something to prove. He's played an average of 19:12 per game, leads the league in blocked shots and delivers big hits.

"He's a big player for us now," said Murray. "A defensive guy who kills penalties and, we've remarked many times, that he's really improved because he's gotten the opportunity to play a more important role than the one he had last year.

"He's really thrived on the role he's played. That's what happens when players take advantage of something, they become very important and hard to lose in a lineup when something like this happen."

A player who is hurting but remains in the lineup is goalie Ray Emery. He will make his seventh straight start tonight, but is still troubled by a sore wrist he first strained in Atlanta two weeks ago.

ROUGH TREATMENT

Emery wasn't happy with some of the treatment he received from the Panthers on Friday night. He was slashed a couple of times and forward Gregory Campbell ran into him in the crease.

"That's what I was talking to the referee about," said Murray. "We got a penalty for punching back and I think it was (Emery) and I just said to the referee that if he calls the initial contact, then nothing else is going to happen. That was the third time in the game. (Emery) felt that he had to take it into his own hands."

Emery said he's not worried about being targeted, but tells the officials before games to watch players in the crease.

"I normally like that stuff, but I got a little frustrated," said Emery. "I kind of warned the referees that guys are going to take a whack at me."

The biggest thing the Senators have going for them now is confidence. They've won four straight to get back to the .500 mark and now want to push upward into a playoff position in the East.


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