Sens get back to work

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

The Senators not digging for gold in Vancouver returned to work Wednesday at the Bell Sensplex.

With the mandated eight-day Olympic break for players who didn’t travel to Vancouver officially over, the Senators will spend the next four days preparing for the resumption of the schedule Tuesday against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place.

With Daniel Alfredsson Jarkko Ruutu, Milan Michalek, Anton Volchenkov and Filip Kuba at the Olympics, coach Cory Clouston wants his players to stay sharp for what the Senators hope will be a long playoff run.

“(Wednesday) we just wanted the players to have a real good sweat and we want them to get their timing back,” said Clouston. “It’s tough to do any system things right now when you have such small numbers. You still want to get the legs back going and the timing back.”

The Senators closed out the schedule before the break as one of the NHL’s hottest teams with 14 wins in 16 games. The club is sitting at No. 3 in the Eastern Conference, No. 1 in the Northeast Division and has a strong chance for home ice in the playoffs. The players enjoyed the time away from what’s been a grind.

“It was good to get this time off and spend time with family. You usually don’t get this kind of chance at this time of year,” said centre Jason Spezza, who spent part of the break in New York and then with his family in Toronto.

“This break is going to help with some of the injuries we got towards the end, with our defence getting a little thin when some guys got hurt. You’ve got to take the break for what it is: We were playing well.

“We just have to use it to regroup, refocus and, hopefully, it will give us momentum for the stretch run.”

No progress on Anton

The Senators haven’t gotten an answer from Volchenkov and his agent Jay Grossman on the contract extension GM Bryan Murray offered earlier this month. With Volchenkov tied up playing for Russia at the Olympics, there’s been no urgency on either side to get a deal done. Volchenkov would be a valuable commodity on the free-agent market on July 1, but has played his whole career with the Senators and has expressed a desire to stay here. Grossman wants to present the offer to Volchenkov face-to-face.

Off the glass

The Senators could have LW Nick Foligno back from his broken leg in the next two weeks. He has made good progress and could return to the ice soon. “We X-rayed him (Tuesday) and it looks very positive,” said Clouston. “In the next 3-4 days, we’ll up his intensity. He hasn’t been able to do any jumps, but he’s walking without a cast. There are a lot of positives there.” ... Ottawa RW Alex Kovalev wasn’t planning to take in Wednesday’s Russia-Canada battle. He was going out for dinner with family and friends. He hasn’t seen much of the Olympics. “I’ve watched part of one period,” said Kovalev. “The rest of the time I was on the beach.” ... A player who enjoyed the break was G Pascal Leclaire. He didn’t skate, with the exception of a little twirl with his girlfriend on an outdoor rink at Mont Tremblant. “It was nice to get away and it’s good to be back at it now,” said Leclaire with a grin ... RW Jonathan Cheechoo, who was given the Olympic break, was re-assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton. He will likely finish the season there.


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