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Senators enjoying hockey break

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
With a job well done now behind them, the Ottawa Senators are putting work on the backburner for a few days.

“We’re not even talking about hockey at all,” head coach John Paddock said Monday when asked what’s occupying his players’ minds during a three-day retreat in the Muskokas region west of Ottawa. “We’re watching baseball games (on TV), we’re watching football games … I don’t think there’s any conversation about hockey at all.”

Then again, it’s a little easier to relax when you’re team is off to an 8-1-0 start and riding high atop the National Hockey League standings. Balmy, summer-like conditions don’t exactly hurt the mood, either.

“Great weather, great place in the Muskokas, ” said Paddock. “I said jokingly to one of the other coaches that the only thing that could have been better is if we hadn’t lost one game.

“It’s easier to finish (a busy stretch) like we did. Even if we had been 7-2, it still would have been a pretty good record. But when you lose the last game before a big break, it takes away a little of the lustre.”

That didn’t happen, of course, as the Senators polished off the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Saturday night – their last game at Scotiabank Place until the Atlanta Thrashers visit on Nov. 1. The Sens’ next game is Saturday in Newark, N.J., when the New Jersey Devils play their first game in their new home rink, the Prudential Center.

While the team has one practice set for Tuesday at noon before heading back to Ottawa, Paddock admitted “it’s not going to be much of a practice. It’s still part of the relaxing thing.”

Rookie winger Nick Foligno, who suffered a mild neck strain when cross-checked head first into the boards by the Panthers’ Branislav Mezei on Saturday night, is expected to be on the ice. Paddock said he isn’t sure yet about Antoine Vermette, who sat out Saturday with a sore back.

“I’m hopeful (he’ll play) on the weekend,” he said.

Paddock bristled at the suggestion that Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov, who received a major for hitting from behind and a game misconduct after a hard hit into the boards on the Panthers’ David Booth, might face NHL discipline.

Booth left the ice on a stretcher.

“That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve heard in hockey this year, anybody talking about a suspension for Volchenkov,” said Paddock. “The cross-check (on Foligno) was twice as bad as the Volchenkov thing. It’s not even in the same ballpark.

“The guy ran into (Volchenkov). I don’t even think there’s any question. I don’t think it’s up for discussion by anybody. ”

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