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Sens decisions don't get easier

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Suddenly, there’s an added sense of urgency about the final roster decisions to be made during the last few days of Senators training camp.

Whether the team will have the services of Dean McAmmond to start the regular season remains uncertain after the winger suffered a concussion during Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Place. McAmmond was felled by a blow to the head by the Flyers’ Steve Downie and was removed from the ice on a stretcher.

Fortunately, the veteran suffered no fractures and has been released from hospital after examination. He was to see the club’s training staff for treatment today.

McAmmond’s status, and that of centre Mike Fisher – who has yet to play a game in training camp as he recovers from a groin injury suffered during the Stanley Cup final – puts added emphasis on the play of at least three rookie forwards still with the Senators.

Head coach John Paddock indicated Tuesday he’d use the final two pre-season games (Saturday at Scotiabank Place vs. Montreal, Sunday at Washington) to take one more look at the likes of Nick Foligno and Russians Ilya Zubov and Alexander Nikulin, all of whom have impressed during camp.

“We’re looking at the kids,” said Paddock. “For Foligno and the Russians and (defenceman) Brian Lee, this is a continuing evaluation for them. The odds probably don’t favour them, but strange things happen.

“That’s why it’s still an evaluation, that’s why it’s an important thing for them … We’ve tried to put these guys in situations where they have a chance to play with the (Dany) Heatleys and (Daniel) Alfredsssons. There’s so many things that could happen that we don’t foresee happening, but we have to have the best read possible on these guys.”

One of those “things,” as Paddock and the Senators would find out, came later Tuesday night with the loss of McAmmond. There’s no word yet on when he might be ready to return.

But even before that unfortunate event, there was a feeling in camp that Foligno, in particular, might get the chance to at least start the season with the big club. Against the Flyers, he found himself starting the game on a line with Alfredsson and centre Jason Spezza. But he tried not to read too much into that, and said Tuesday he is aware that there’s still a ways to go yet before the finish line.

“I know there’s still a few more cuts to be made,” said Foligno, 19. “But it’s obviously still nice to be here and still be in the thought process for a final roster spot.

“It’s an exciting time. You’re pretty close and you just want to keep things on an even keel and make sure you’re working hard. That’s what I’m trying to do and you know what, let the rest be up to (the coaching staff). Don’t give them any reasons, with my work ethic, to send me away. That’s the most important thing.”

The Senators players had a full day off today, but were to return to the ice Thursday to resume preparations for their final two pre-season tune-ups.

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