|Senators centre Peter Regin is hopeful he can be in the team's lineup for the team's season-opener Oct. 7 in Detroit (Getty Images).
Don't count Peter Regin out of opening night just yet.
The Ottawa centre remains hopeful he'll be good to go in eight days' time, when the Senators launch their 2011-12 campaign at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit against the Red Wings.
"It's a possibility," Regin said earlier today in discussing the left shoulder injury he suffered in Tuesday night's pre-season loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Place. "I'm still hoping for the first game. If I'm playing or not, I don't know. I'm still doing some tests in the upcoming week and we'll see what the results are.
"I'm still hoping (for the Oct. 7 opener), but it's not going to be a major thing ... I hope to be back on the ice soon and start skating."
Fears about Regin's status were raised because it's the same shoulder that the Danish pivot injured back in March, a mishap which required season-ending surgery. But by Wednesday morning, he knew he wasn't about to face the same kind of lengthy recovery period that followed the previous injury.
"When you’re coming off a surgery and you hurt that body part (again), you get worried right away," admitted Regin. "But as it turned out, it was good the next day. It’s a little sore now, but it’s not a major thing. I’m happy about that and I’m just looking forward to getting back on the ice again.
"I'm disappointed, but the first sign is that it's getting beter quick, so it's not as bad as it was last year."
However long it lasts, this is indeed a setback for a player who showed strong form throughout the pre-season and had made a very strong case to be considered for the Senators' second-line centre position — a slot also coveted by rookies Mika Zibanejad and Stephane Da Costa.
"That's the most frustrating thing," said the 25-year-old Regin. "I was feeling good and skating good. I was going to play the last two (pre-season) games here and be ready for the season, and then this happens. But it's not the first time I've been hurt and I know how to react now. I'll just focus on getting back and being good when I get back.
"I'm still hoping for the first game. If I'm playing or not, I don't know. I'm still doing some tests in the upcoming week and we'll see what the results are. I'm still hoping (for the Oct. 7 opener), but it's not going to be a major thing ... I hope to be back on the ice soon and start skating." - Peter Regin
"You always want to get off (to a good start) and play right away. You don't want to miss games right off the bat. So I'm disappointed but at the same time, I still hope I can play the first game and then I probably won't be disappointed. It's a little unlucky, but I'll be back soon."
Head coach Paul MacLean suggested today that the injuries suffered by Regin and fellow centre Jesse Winchester — who suffered a shoulder injury of his own during the first on-ice session of training camp on Sept. 18 — could affect the status of Zibanejad, the 18-year-old Swedish centre who's been a pre-season standout. The Senators' top pick (sixth overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft now seems to be in good position to land a spot on the opening-day roster.
"It certainly appears, with the injuries to Peter Regin and Jesse Winchester, that the door is open for (Zibanejad) to walk into at this point in time," MacLean said following the Senators' pre-game skate in advance of tonight's exhibition finale in Boston against the Bruins (7 p.m., NHL Centre Ice, Team 1200). "He's playing very well, but we're still going to evaluate him.
"We're getting closer to making the decision, but the way he's played certainly makes it (difficult on us). Tonight's an NHL lineup with all NHL players, so it's a good opportunity to evaluate him before the regular season starts."
The Senators can keep Zibanejad in their lineup for nine regular-season games without triggering the start of his National Hockey League entry-level contract. At that point, they'd have to decide whether he stays in Ottawa or is returned to Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League.
As of today, 30 players remain in Senators camp, but MacLean would like the reduce that number to the final roster by Saturday. Ottawa can keep up to 23 players on its opening-day roster, but that total has yet to be determined.
"It all depends on injuries and how everybody makes it through the weekend," said MacLean. "Then we'll decide how many bodies we have here and how many are active to play."