Leclaire tripping out with Sens

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

The Senators had a new face on the bus for their trip to Montreal yesterday afternoon.

Goaltender Pascal Leclaire made his first road trip with his new teammates and will hit the ice at the Bell Centre this morning, likely in full equipment for the first time since having ankle surgery in January.

Leclaire skated for the first time Saturday and was on the ice with just his leg pads yesterday to test the ankle under the watchful eye of goaltending coach Eli Wilson, going gently through some basic movements.

"It feels pretty good so far. It was the second day on the ice and so far, so good. It's not full out yet, but I'll take it day-by-day and try do a little more," said Leclaire, obtained from the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline along with a second-round draft pick for forward Antoine Vermette.

"The thing is not to blow my horn too quickly. We want to make sure we don't skip steps. It feels pretty good."

Leclaire said he'll likely try skating in all his gear today and see how his ankle handles the load.

Living in a hotel in Ottawa since the trade, he said he was looking forward to a change in scenery yesterday.

"I'm still at the hotel, so I've been craving to get out of it. It'll be good. I'll be able to go for dinner with the guys," said the 26-year-old, who will be the Senators' No. 1 goaltender next season. "They've been away for so long, I haven't been able to be around them. It's fun for me to be a part of it. The more stuff you do with your teammates, the more you feel a part of the group. For me, it's pretty exciting to go on the road with the guys. The road is a fun part of being a hockey player."

After being on crutches for a month, Leclaire said he is ready to work hard in the off-season to make sure his recovery is complete.

"I took my break while I was on crutches. Now I feel pretty motivated to get back in shape and I feel like going to the gym. I'm pretty much able to do whatever I want. It's getting into a routine and doing it. I'll try to do as much as I can here, not to prove anything, but just for myself for everybody to see where we're at. The way things are going right now, I'm pretty confident everything is on pace. I'm pretty close to being 100%."

"He's progressing quicker than we had expected, but he's not anywhere near playing right now," said Senators coach Cory Clouston. "Everything has come along very, very well, which is a big positive for the organization."

Hear and there

With 34 wins and four games left, the Senators are headed for their fewest number of victories in a season since they had 34 in 1997-98. They have had less than 40 only once since then (39 in 2001-02) ... "If you had said at the beginning of the year we wanted to finish a couple of games above .500, nobody would be happy with that," said F Chris Kelly. "You see some of the teams that are going to be in the playoffs and we compare ourselves against them and I don't think we're too far off. You have to give them credit because they've done it for a full year and we've done it for 30 games. That's why they are where they are and why we're where we are. It at least makes us feel encouraged that we've found our game." ... Senators D Anton Volchenkov was given a day off from practice yesterday, but will play tonight ... W Andrei Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch for the Canadiens on Saturday night in Toronto.


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