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Defence never rests for Sens

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They must soldier on without one of their sturdiest anchors.

But even without the presence of shot blocker extraordinaire Anton Volchenkov, the Ottawa Senators’ defence corps continues to band together to shut the door on the opposition.

The Senators have reeled off six straight wins heading into Thursday’s contest at Philips Arena in Atlanta against the Thrashers (7 p.m., A-Channel, Team 1200) – the last of four meetings between the teams this season. In the last five games of their current streak, they’ve been positively smothering on the defensive end, outscoring those foes by a 24-8 count.

Steadying the troops one more time in Tuesday’s tight-checking 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins: Big blueliner Chris Phillips, whom Senators head coach John Paddock credited with turning in an “outstanding” game.

“He was so strong with the puck and battling guys in the corner and making little plays,” Paddock said after the team’s workout Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta. “He won the battles on the penalty kill.”

No surprise there, really. Phillips and Volchenkov are renowned around the league for their shutdown capabilities.

“I don’t think you have to do any more than go and look at last year’s stats,” said Paddock. “They were plus-36 and plus-38 playing every night against the (Ilya) Kovalchuks and the (Alex) Ovechkins and (Vincent) Lecavaliers and (Jaromir) Jagrs.

“There’s nothing else to say. That speaks to the level of their play right there.”

Sometimes, though, the stay-at-home types chip in at the other end of the ice. Take Luke Richardson, the wily 20-year National Hockey League veteran, who notched the go-ahead goal against the Bruins in the third period. It was Richardson’s first NHL goal since Nov. 26, 2005 – the only one he scored that season for the Columbus Blue Jackets – and came with his father, Glen, watching from the TD Banknorth Garden seats.

“As a defensive guy, any time you can contribute offensively, it’s fun,” Richardson, 38, told reporters after the game. “It was nice to have (Glen) here, that’s for sure.”

Added a grinning Paddock: “We should bring his dad on more trips.”

Chevrier a 'true icon'

Canadian broadcast legend Don Chevrier, who died Monday at age 69 at his home in Florida, is best known for his work on Toronto Blue Jays and CFL telecasts. But he touched hockey fans in Ottawa as the first play-by-play man on Senators local broadcasts.

“Don was a true icon in Canadian sports media, and we were proud to have Don contribute to the Senators broadcasts,” said Senators COO Cyril Leeder. “We want to express our sincere sympathies to the Chevrier family.”

Jim Steel, the Senators’ vice-president of broadcasting, called Chevrier “the consummate professional who provided credibility to our broadcasts in the early years of the franchise. He will be missed by all of us who had the privilege of working with him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

Around the boards

Martin Gerber (16-4-2) will make his fourth straight start in goal against the Thrashers … Less than 100 tickets remain for each of the Senators’ next four home games – Saturday (vs. Chicago), Dec. 27 (New York Islanders), Dec. 29 (Washington) and Jan. 5 (Tampa Bay). Fewer than 2,000 remain for a Jan. 10 visit by the Buffalo Sabres.

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