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Lapointe eager for Sens debut

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Martin Lapointe expects to feel some first-game jitters.

But already, he’s brought a positive vibe to the Ottawa Senators dressing room, even before suiting up for his first game with his new National Hockey League team.

“I’m excited. It’s going to be a fun game tomorrow,” the gritty veteran forward said about making his Senators debut Thursday night against the Flyers in Philadelphia (7 p.m., Sens TV, Team 1200). “I’m probably going to be a little nervous at the beginning. But it’s good to be nervous sometimes.”

Lapointe, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings (in 1997 and 1998), arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after he’d been dealt to the Senators by the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a draft pick.

The native of Ville Ste-Pierre, Que., said he and his family are enthused about the chance to move closer to home. He’s also happy the Blackhawks granted his wish to be sent to a Stanley Cup contender, if he was going to moved on NHL trade deadline day.

And Lapointe hopes to quickly play a role in helping the Senators escape the recent skid that has dropped them to second place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the New Jersey Devils. Ottawa still holds a one-point advantage over the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division standings.

“They have a lot of talent,” said Lapointe. “(The Senators) haven’t been going well lately, but you’ve got to look at the positive side. We’re still first (in the Northeast), you’ve got to have fun. If you don’t have fun, you can’t win games.

“It’s a sport we’ve all been playing since we were little boys and it’s still a game. You’ve got to mix some fun in it and put a smile on your face. We’re well paid professional athletes.”

Though he’s only just begun to “get my feet wet,” Lapointe already senses “there’s a great bunch of guys here and they want to win.”

“They’re going through some tough times now but it’s going to turn around.”

But Lapointe doesn’t want anyone thinking he can do it on his own.

“I don’t want to be the saviour,” said Lapointe, who skated on a line with Mike Fisher and Randy Robitaille in practice today. “I just want to help the team win some games and make a push in the playoffs. That’s my job. I can’t change my style. I’ll play a gritty game, bang people and put the puck in deep and hopefully add a few goals here and there and bring some leadership.

“It’s my first day here and there’s a lot of great leaders in this locker-room. We’ve just got to get together and play as a team.”

Lineup notes

Ray Emery (12-11-4) returns to the Senators net against the Flyers … Defenceman Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov both sat out practice today because of a flu/cold virus.

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