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Season starts without Fisher

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
STOCKHOLM — Finally, it's game on for real for the Ottawa Senators.

But when the Sens hit the ice at the Globe Arena tonight for the first half of their season-opening NHL Premiere series against the Pittsburgh Penguins (2:30 p.m. ET, CBC, Team 1200), they'll have to do it without gritty centre Mike Fisher.

After testing out his sore groin during this morning's pre-game skate, Fisher said he isn't healthy enough yet to suit up against the Penguins. Dean McAmmond or Shean Donovan will draw into the lineup in Fisher's absence but Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg said he'll make that decision closer to game time.

For Fisher, who tweaked the groin on the second shift of Thursday's exhibition game against the Frolunda Indians in Gothenburg, missing out on the season-opener was a bitter pill to swallow. But he knew it was the only realistic decision to make under the circumstances.

"It’s an opening game and I thought I’d be ready and fine," he said. "It was just unfortunate the other night, but I’m sure the guys will be ready to play and they’re going to play hard.

"I just didn’t feel right (with) my stride. When you get in a game, it’s a total, different situation with stops and starts and being strong. I just knew it wasn’t good enough to go to play."

Fisher all but ruled out the prospect of being ready for Sunday's rematch with the Penguins at the Globe (2:30 p.m. ET, CBC, Team 1200), but hopes the five-day break that follows will give him a chance to be in the lineup against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 11 at Scotiabank Place.

"Not the way I felt today," Fisher said when asked about the chances of him being in the game on Sunday. "We’ll see what happens ... I can’t go the way I need to go to help. I’ve just got to get healthy and make sure I take of it. Hopefully, I can get back soon."

Hartsburg agreed it's best to take the cautious route so early in the season.

"It would be nice to have (Fisher) in the lineup but other people will step up and do the job for us," he said. "We certainly want to make sure he’s healthy. He’s an important part of our team and I don’t want to have something long-term with him."

The injury aside, Hartsburg said his team is eager and primed to face off against the team that ended the Senators' 2007-08 season with a first-round playoff sweep.

"They seem very excited about playing tonight," said Hartsburg. "They’ve put a lot of work into it the last two weeks (during training camp). They’re ready to play."

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