Campoli set to go on offensive

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 PM ET

WASHINGTON — Being benched didn’t sit well with Chris Campoli.

After being a healthy scratch for two straight games, the veteran defenceman is ready to get back on the ice and contribute in a positive way.

Campoli will return to the lineup Sunday against the Capitals at the Verizon Center. He will likely take Brian Lee’s spot.

After going minus-4 against Boston Tuesday, Campoli can understand why Senators coach Cory Clouston sat him out for a couple of games, but that didn’t make watching the games in street clothes any easier for the veteran.

“For me, I know I just have to play better,” Campoli said Saturday. “I’ve been consistent, but I didn’t have my best game in Boston. I’m looking forward to helping (Sunday). I plan on being better.”

Clouston’s decision to sit Campoli against his former team on Long Island Thursday was a bit of a surprise. Campoli always enjoys suiting up against the Islanders and Campoli has been one of Ottawa’s better blueliners on many nights.

Since Clouston wasn’t about to change the winning formula for Friday’s tilt against the Flames, it wasn’t a shock Campoli didn’t get in the lineup for a second straight game.

While Campoli has played reasonably well this season, the club wants more out of him offensively. Campoli has just one goal and seven points in 43 games.

“The defensive end of his game has improved over the last year,” said Clouston. “We need him to generate offence. We need him to be involved in the rush. We need him to be in that second wave.

“We need him to get that shot through, help out our second power-play unit. Those are the areas we need him to help this club out because right now we’re not getting the offence.”

Clouston said he didn’t mind Campoli getting upset about being asked to take a seat.

“We talked to him. We’ve had a couple of discussions,” said Clouston. “He’s not happy. We don’t want a player to be happy when he sits down. We want him to be motivated.

“We want him to understand where the areas are we need him to improve and go out there to follow up with that.”

Campoli, who could be trade bait at the Feb. 28 deadline, said he tried to take something positive out of Clouston’s decision.

“(Clouston) said he wanted more out of me offensively and that’s understandable,” said Campoli. “In the past, I’ve been a guy that’s created offence and offensive opportunities.

“This year, I’ve come a long way personally with my game. He’s given me more responsibility offensively, killing penalties and, at certain points of the game, playing against top lines or second lines. I’ve earned that trust from him. I just think Boston was a tough night for me. It was a bump in the road and the reality is when the team’s losing there’s to be changes.”

MICHALEK HEATING UP

Milan Michalek feels good.

He suddenly looks good on the ice as well.

In a season where plenty of players in an Ottawa uniform have struggled, the Senators winger finally appears to be coming around after scoring his 10th goal of the season with 58 seconds left in a 3-2 loss to the Flames Friday.

Coming off knee surgery last spring, Michalek, acquired in the Dany Heatley deal from the Sharks, told reporters he’s finally feeling almost 100%.

“In the last two weeks, I’ve finally been able to get my legs going and I’m a little bit loose,” said Michalek, who has 10 goals and 18 points in 41 games.

“I just hope that it’s going to keep going like that.”

BLACK AND BLUE REPORT

C Jason Spezza (right shoulder) skated Saturday in full equipment, but isn’t able to shoot the puck ... RW Alex Kovalev (knee) isn’t ready to return but could resume skating Monday ... G Pascal Leclaire (hip/groin/back) is still undergoing tests to determine whether he’ll play again this season. No surgery is required — at this point — but doctors haven’t completed their testing to make a final determination.


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