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Foligno eager for 'second chance'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Nick Foligno is getting a second chance, and he intends to make the most of it.

With winger Patrick Eaves gone for at least a month with a shoulder separation, the Ottawa Senators have summoned Foligno from their American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., to help fill the void up front.

The 20-year-old forward follows Russian rookie Alexander Nikulin in making the long drive up from Binghamton since Eaves went down in Buffalo a week ago. Nikulin suited up for the first two games of his National Hockey League career last week, but saw only 4:02 of ice time against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. He was re-assigned to Binghamton on Tuesday afternoon.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson was back at practice Tuesday with head coach John Paddock and the rest of his teammates.
Now the Senators have decided to turn to Foligno, who made the team out of training camp and played 14 games with the big club before being demoted to Binghamton two weeks ago. While head coach John Paddock said the Sens’ top pick in the 2006 entry draft hasn’t been “outstanding” with the B-Sens, he feels the time is right for Foligno to make another impression in Ottawa.

“With the injuries we’ve had up here, I think maybe there’s a little more opportunity on the wings (for him) coming up here,” said Paddock.

Needless to say, Foligno wore a rather obvious smile on his face when he hit the Scotiabank Place ice for practice on Tuesday morning.

“I definitely missed it up here, and it’s good to be back,” he said. “It’s kind of unfortunate the way it happened with the injuries and stuff like that … but I think I know why I’m up here, to play hard and fill the void while Patty’s gone.

“I’m going to just take it one day at a time and not look too far ahead. Just work hard when I’m out there and show them what I can do. It’s a second chance and I’ve got to make the best of it.”

The thought of another opportunity is also sitting well with goaltender Ray Emery, who was all smiles as he talked about making the start Wednesday night in Uniondale, N.Y., against the Islanders (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). It’ll be his fifth start of the season, but first in a week. Martin Gerber got the call the last two games.

“I definitely want to bounce back with a good game,” said Emery, who’s allowed at least four goals in each of his previous two starts. “But I just worry about what’s at hand. I don’t worry about whether I won the last game or lost the last game, or whatever happened.”

Emery and his teammates had to be buoyed by the return of captain Daniel Alfredsson to the practice ice. Alfredsson, who sat out Saturday’s loss to the Flyers with a groin injury, declared himself ready to go against the Islanders after skating by himself in the morning, then taking part in a full workout with the rest of the team.

“I skated a little bit before practice, and I knew I was going to be able to follow through,” he said. “I haven’t practised in a few days, but it felt pretty good.”

Alfredsson isn’t concerned that he might be returning too quickly from the injury. Centre Jason Spezza missed two weeks with a groin injury of his own earlier this season.

“Once you decide to play, you play and if something happens, it happens,” said Alfredsson. “You just try to make the right decision when you come in … so far, it’s gone according to plan.”

What hasn’t, at least lately, are the final results. The Senators have dropped three straight and are 3-4-1 in their last eight after a 13-1-0 start. But everyone believes the ship will be righted soon enough.

“Their mindset’s the same,” said Paddock. “They don’t think the sky is falling the way everybody else does … It’s the ebb and flow of a hockey season.”

Added winger Dany Heatley: “You can call it what you want. Everyone’s trying to analyze what’s wrong. But I just think we know the areas we have to improve on, and it starts (against the Islanders) tomorrow.”

The Senators are back home Thursday against the Nashville Predators (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet, Team 1200). About 500 tickets remain for the game.

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