by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov is one tough hockey player. Despite having his nose broken after a collision with a Toronto player in the first period on Saturday - and going through the necessary medical procedure that followed yesterday - Volchenkov was back on the ice today at practice sporting a helmet cage. It appears he'll be in the lineup tomorrow, too, when the Senators visit the New York Rangers.
"I think he's going to play," Senators head coach Bryan Murray said after practice today. "He's ready. He had a headache (after the collision on Saturday). There was quite a hit to the nose and it went straight back I guess. He had to have some work done yesterday by the doctors to get one of the air passages fixed up so he could breath a little bit (better)."
Volchenkov said he'll wear the protective mask for two weeks but doesn't expect to struggle with it because he wore one while playing hockey in Russia before coming to North America to play with the Senators in 2002.
"If you're not used to it, I think it's a little different," Murray said of the mask. "He'll adjust fairly quickly I would assume. Guys play in college with them all the time, so I imagine he can handle that."
Murray says losing Volchenkov was a key reason for Saturday's 4-3 loss to Toronto.
"Anton was a big loss for us on Saturday night. He was a huge loss. (The Leafs) got their forecheck on us, and we didn't have the matchup quite the same way."
Volchenkov not only leads the NHL with 237 blocked shots, he is also 13th with 175 hits. Paired with Chris Phillips, the duo is regularly called upon to shut down the top offensive stars in the NHL.