A pair of players are set to make debuts this afternoon, some injury updates from the GM and more before the Sens host the Minnesota Wild at 1 p.m.
Balcers to make NHL debut
In the first of two “debuts” expected today, rookie Rudolfs Balcers is set to play in his first NHL game this afternoon after being recalled from Belleville yesterday.
“It’s a happy feeling,” Balcers said about getting called up. “I had a couple of those last year but I didn’t have the chance to play. I’m excied to finally step on the NHL ice.”
Balcers, who currently leads the Sens’ AHL affiliate in scoring (14G, 12A in 36GP) will officially get his opportunity to play in the National Hockey League today and is excited at the opportunity to finally live out his childhood dream.
“It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile,” he said after yesterday’s practice. “Obviously, it’s been a dream of mine for a long time so I’m excited to get the chance tomorrow.”
Following yesterday’s practice, Sens GM Pierre Dorion shared a bunch of pretty positive injury updates. While Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Craig Anderson, Thomas Chabot and Justin Falk have all been ruled out for today’s game, the quartet did skate this morning and most of them are progressing quite well in their recovery. Barring a setback, Pageau is set to return for tomorrow’s game against the Hurricanes which is months ahead of his projected recovery date (more on that tomorrow).
Another player who will be back in the line-up sooner than expected is defenceman Christian Jaros who broke his finger about a week ago. His original prognosis had him out of the line-up for close to a month but he practiced yesterday and will take the warm-up today with the expecation that he will likely draw in against the Wild.
“It’s broken but it’s healed enough,” said head coach Guy Boucher who also shared that Jaros will wear some extra protection on his injured finger. “It’s not dangerous and the guy wants to play.”
Should Jaros be available, the Sens will roll with 11 forwards and 7 defencemen and it’s likely that Nick Paul would be the lone extra skater today. While we wait for some final pre-game decisions from the coach, here’s a look at the practice lines from yesterday:
Tkachuk – White – Stone
Dzingel – Duchene – Ryan
Smith – Pageau – Boedker
Balcers – Tierney – Paajarvi
Lajoie – Ceci
Harpur – DeMelo
Borowiecki – Jaros
Anders Nilsson (0-0-0 with the Senators, 3-8-1 with the Canucks) will make his Senators debut this afternoon after being acquired in a trade with Vancouver on Jan. 2nd.
“I’m very positive and excited about coming here,” said Nilsson about joining the Senators. “I think it’s a good opportnity for me to play some games and hopefully help the team get some wins.”
Wednesday’s game was quite the whirlwind for the 28-year-old netminder who came to Ottawa as a member of the Canucks before backing up Marcus Hogberg on the home team’s bench.
“It was obviously a very new experience for me,” Nilsson said. “It was a unique day so that’s something I’m never going to forget and will probably look back on when I’m older and laugh about.”
Where to Watch
It’s a 1 p.m. start time at Canadian Tire Centre today and if you don’t have tickets yet grab some right here. Can’t make it to the rink? Why not grab some friends and check out Hooley’s on Elgin where they’ll be serving up Molson Canadian Drafts for just $6.50 all game long.