After 16 days of not being on the ice, Ryan Dzingel's first practice back with the Ottawa Senators was always going to feel strange.
He just didn't want to make a fool of himself in the process.
"I was just trying to focus on skating around and not falling over today," Dzingel said. "I was in a flurry getting ready and trying not to screw up the drills too much."
But there was no denying Dzingel's excitement to be back on the ice with the Senators.
"It's been a long time since I was excited and nervous to practice," he said. "It was an awesome day and I can't get wait to get things going in a real game and I'm itching to get out there."
The 28-year-old was joined in quarantine by his wife Elise where he watched every Sens game. He spent a lot of time on the phone with family and friends while he also took time to read and learn online.
"I think I was driving her a little bit crazy," Dzingel said of his time in quarantine with his wife. "I'm not a guy who likes to be alone. I need stuff to do, people to talk to and people to annoy so she was definitely annoyed and glad I went to the rink today."
And despite it being just one day, some things felt like he had never left.
"Chabot and Tierney are already annoying me after day one so it's nice to hear their chirps and be back goofing around with those two guys," Dzingel said. "It felt like I hadn't left. It was very easy to come back."
Dzingel's return to game action has yet to be determined as he works to build himself back up to game-shape after more than two weeks in a hotel. He expects it to take anywhere from two to four days but he's going to follow the advice of the Senators' medical staff on when he'll make his Sens debut.
"As a competitor and as a guy who wants to get out there as soon as I can, I always think I can do more than I should [but] I'm going to listen to the guys here," Dzingel said. "Whenever they deem that I'm ready to go I'll be ready."
And when he hits the ice for what will be his 248th game as an Ottawa Senator, Dzingel is excited by the prospect of playing alongside any of the team's centres.
"Looking at the lineup, [there's] four really solid, skilled centres. It's nice to see all the skill up the middle which helps every winger."