BUFFALO -- The return of Anton Volchenkov has had a yo-yo effect on a couple of other Senators.
Christoph Schubert has gone back to being a forward and Nick Foligno has gone back to being a Binghamton farmhand.
Meanwhile, the Senators can only hope that, with the shot-blocking, defensively skilled Volchenkov coming off the injury list, they get back to their winning ways when they face the Sabres tonight.
"I asked the same thing sitting on the bench," captain Daniel Alfredsson said yesterday, pressed by a reporter wanting to know what happened in 8-6 and 6-3 losses to the Washington Capitals. "Sometimes one guy misses an assignment, another guy wants to cover up and he gets out of position, then you make yourself look like an atom team out there, that you don't know your assignment. That's when you get back to basics.
"Buffalo always seems to be a good measuring stick for us, they always bring out the best in us. We're looking forward to (tonight)."
So are the Senators goalies, though neither Martin Gerber nor Ray Emery knew which of them would be getting the start while at the rink yesterday. Either way, their job is made easier by the return of Volchenkov, who last season blocked 34 shots in eight games against the Sabres.
While Volchenkov returns to his usual blue-line post alongside Chris Phillips, the guy who was keeping it warm for him appears to have fallen if yesterday's practice is any indication. Andrej Meszaros was not back with Wade Redden, but working instead beside Luke Richardson on what would be the team's third defensive pairing.
Joe Corvo and Redden remained together as they have for much of the past five weeks.
Schubert returns to left wing on the fourth line.
"It's my third year now, I know my role," said Schubert, who spent the past 15 games at the blue-line position he prefers.
While Foligno was here for 31 games, the Senators elected to keep Cody Bass.
'NEEDS TO PLAY MORE'
"He needs to play more minutes, in more situations, and get ready to play, as quick as he can, somewhere on one of the first three lines of an NHL team, whether that's next week, two months from now or next season," Paddock said of Foligno. "Cody's situation is just a little bit different. In some ways, he is what he is. Not that he can't keep improving, but he provides energy and work, and he provides the ingredient we want on a fourth line."
The coaching staff also has to feel better about the Senators -- who had a 9-1-1 record heading into the home-and-home series with Washington -- facing a team with higher standing. So far, they have won 24-of-33 games against clubs that, as of last night, had a .500 record or better.
Against teams that are under .500, the Senators have only won two of six games.