Anton Volchenkov says he'll do his level best to avoid joining the Ottawa Senators' already lengthy list of walking wounded.
Despite wearing an ugly 15-stitch scar on his forehead, the burly blueliner said today he'll "probably play" Friday night when the Senators face off against the Penguins in Game 2 of their playoff series at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final 1-0 after blanking the Senators 4-0 in the series opener Wednesday night. Volchenkov departed that game in the second period after an Evgeni Malkin slap shot caught him squarely in the helmet as he fell to the ice. The resulting "pressure cut" left him with stitches and significant swelling above his left eye, but no decrease in his desire to return to the playoff wars.
"It's not bad. Today feels better," said Volchenkov. "At first (when it happened), I thought it was pretty serious. Now it's fine."
Head coach/general manager Bryan Murray said his defenceman's return will depend, in part, upon the team training staff's ability to find a helmet that can fit over and protect the swollen area.
"(Volchenkov) feels better today. He was not very good last night," said Murray. "But there's a fair amount of swelling. They've been trying to get a helmet ... it might take some special crafting."
If Volchenkov can't play, veteran Luke Richardson would be inserted into the lineup. But Murray said going without one of his key shutdown blueliners — Volchenkov averages 20:30 of ice time per game — would be a huge blow to a team already missing injured forwards Daniel Alfredsson
, Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly.
"We know what Anton is," said Murray. "He's a shutdown guy, he's a shot blocker, he's a good physical presence in our lineup. He falls in front of shots that are potential goals. He'll do anything for the team. He'll play if he can play, we know that.
"It's a big loss for us (if he can't go)."