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Volchenkov hears Olympic call

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov will suit up for Russia at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. It'll be his second straight Winter Games (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Anton Volchenkov is getting another to chance to chase Olympic glory.

The Ottawa Senators defenceman was named today to Russia's provisional 23-man roster for the ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Volchenkov, who is in his sixth season with the Senators, previously wore Russian colours at the 2006 Turin Olympics. Russia finished fourth at that Games behind Sweden (gold), Finland (silver) and the Czech Republic (bronze).

While the Russian roster includes 14 National Hockey League players, notable by his absence is Senators forward Alex Kovalev. While he's a two-time Olympic medallist (gold, 1992; bronze, 2002), Kovalev told the Ottawa Sun earlier this week that he didn't expect to be named to the 2010 team based on his performance so far this season (7-13-20 in 34 games).

Russia is the two-time defending world champion and, with the likes of Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers) leading a fearsome attack, should be among the medal favourites in Vancouver.

Many experts feel the Russians aren't nearly as strong on the blue line and that's where the play of an experienced, rugged defender such as Volchenkov could be key. Three of the defenceman named to the Russian team currently toil in the Kontinental Hockey League and two of the biggest names — Sergei Gonchar (Pittsburgh) and Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens) — are more noted for their power-play capabilities.

Volchenkov has a strong international resume that also includes medals at the world Under-18 (gold, 2000), world junior (gold, 2002) and world senior (silver, 2002) levels. He scored the winning goal in Russia's 5-4 triumph over Canada at the 2002 world juniors in the Czech Republic.

Sweden will name its Olympic team on Sunday, a roster that is expected to include Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, a member of the gold-medal winning team in 2006.

Around the boards

The Senators will update the status of Alfredsson on Saturday, prior to their game against the Sabres in Buffalo (7 p.m., no TV, Team 1200). He suffered a shoulder injury in Wednesday's 8-2 loss to the PIttsburgh Penguins and indicated after the game that he was likely to miss "at least two weeks" of action ... Ottawa returns home to face the Montreal Canadiens on Monday (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200), beginning a run of five straight games at Scotiabank Place.

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