|Jesse Winchester gained a shot of confidence during his four-game conditioning stint with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League (Claus Anderson/Getty Images).
is still waiting for his turn to arrive.
But fresh off a two-week conditioning stint with the Binghamton Senators, the Long Sault native feels more than ready to answer the call – whenever it comes.
"The four games there worked wonders for me, getting me back into a game state of mind," said Winchester, who hasn't seen any action in Ottawa since suffering a right knee injury during a Sept. 18 pre-season game against the Montreal Canadiens. "I have to sharpen up on a few things here. I have to play more physical and aggressive.
"But I have to look back at (his time in Binghamton) as a positive experience and it really prepared me for stepping in whenever I get the call here."
That won't happen tonight, when the Senators face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN2, Team 1200). But it could come as soon as Saturday, when the New Jersey Devils arrive in town.
Senators head coach Cory Clouston knows he's getting back a player who's much more ready to contribute. Winchester saw ice time in a wide variety of situations in Binghamton, including the power-play and penalty-killing units.
"He'll get his opportunity," said Clouston. "And when he does, he'll be in a lot better game shape, which is the reason he was down there."
"I have to sharpen up on a few things here. I have to play more physical and aggressive. But I have to look back at (his time in Binghamton) as a positive experience and it really prepared me for stepping in whenever I get the call here." - Jesse Winchester
Winchester has no doubt he'll be a better player for the experience, his first in the American Hockey League.
"I didn’t really know what to expect and honestly, I had no time to really prepare for the first game. I just told myself to have fun," said Winchester, who signed with the Senators as a college free agent in 2008. "I was my first game of the year, so (I wanted to) make the most of it. Things started happening during that game and I had a little confidence, so I just tried to play that way throughout my stint there. I just tried to make the most of it.
"It helped a lot. Sometimes, up here, I don’t always play with as much confidence as I should. But down there, it just gave me a mental boost and allowed me to believe I can be up here and be solid. Going forward, I just have to take some of the things I did down there, (bring them) up here and use them going forward, regardless of the situation I’m in here."
Now it's a matter of waiting for the call to join the Senators lineup.
"I’ll just work as hard as I can every day and just wait for my opportunity to play," said Winchester. "They know I’ll be ready when it comes time and that’s all I can really do. I’m here to work hard and make an impact when I get in."