Ken War­ren WAR­REN’S PIECE

Ot­tawa mak­ing room for Ryan as he re­turns from in­jury ... Big chal­lenge for road-weary Sen­a­tors ... Siz­ing up the new-old sweaters ... Goal­tender Ham­mond bounc­ing back

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS -

Let the guess­ing game be­gin.

Now that Bobby Ryan has re­turned from a bro­ken right in­dex finger, where will he line up when the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors re­turn to prac­tice Wed­nes­day af­ter their Swedish get­away?

Be­fore Ryan was hurt, he was part of an im­pres­sive top line at left wing with cen­tre Der­ick Bras­sard and right winger Mark Stone, reg­is­ter­ing six as­sists in eight games.

Head coach Guy Boucher could Ryan him back there, or Boucher might opt to see what Ryan could do at right wing with Matt Duch­ene, who will play his first game at Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre with the Sen­a­tors against the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins on Thurs­day night.

I’m will­ing to gam­ble a nickel — but not a dime — that Ryan will line up be­side Duch­ene.

BARE MIN­I­MUM

As­sum­ing that Ryan and de­fence­man Mark Borowiecki are both cleared to re­turn to ac­tion Thurs­day, get set for more un­con­ven­tional lineup for­ma­tions.

Af­ter for­wards Jack Rode­wald and Nick Paul and de­fence­man Ben Harpur were as­signed to Belleville of the Amer­i­can Hockey League on Mon­day, the Sen­a­tors have a bare min­i­mum of 20 play­ers, in­clud­ing 11 for­wards, seven de­fence­men and two goalies.

Fans at Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre could be treated to a re­peat of what Stock­holm fans saw: Chris Wide­man played 9:59 in Satur­day’s game, a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, the bulk of it as a rightwinger on a line with Paul and Nate Thomp­son.

HARPUR HOLDS HIS OWN

While Harpur has re­turned to the AHL, it was in­trigu­ing that he played 16:23 and 14:12 in the two games against Colorado. Clearly, Boucher has plenty of trust in the 6-6, 223-pound de­fence­man, who was solid in nine Stan­ley Cup play­off games last spring.

SCHED­ULE PAY­BACK

The re­ward for play­ing only two games in 11 days? How about play­ing three games in the fol­low­ing four days? Af­ter host­ing the Pen­guins on Thurs­day and the Ari­zona Coy­otes on Satur­day af­ter­noon, the Sen­a­tors travel to New York to face the Rangers on Sun­day. “My big­gest worry was get­ting as many days off as pos­si­ble,” Sen­a­tors gen­eral man­ager Pierre Do­rion told TSN 1200 of the Swedish so­journ. “These guys need to re­cu­per­ate. The tough­est game we’ll play this year will be on Thurs­day.”

HER­ITAGE HYPE

My two cents? Black would have been bet­ter, but the Sen­a­tors have opted to go red for the Dec. 16 out­door game against the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens at TD Place sta­dium. The lat­est ver­sion of the her­itage throw­back sweater — yes, I go with the tra­di­tional ‘sweater,’ not the Amer­i­can­ized ‘jer­sey’ — fea­tures broad black and white stripes and a sliver of silver across the mid­dle, all topped by a silver O. The coolest wrin­kle: If you look closely, you’ll see num­bers on the silver of the arm­bands des­ig­nat­ing the years of Sen­a­tors Stan­ley Cup wins.

THE GOALIE SHUF­FLE

On Tues­day, Mon­treal plucked Antti Niemi off waivers from Florida. Louis Domingue went from the out­house to the pent­house — traded to Tampa from Ari­zona — in a deal that also landed Light­ning mi­nor­lea­guer Michael Leighton with the Coy­otes. With all the goalie move­ment, maybe Andrew Ham­mond will get an­other NHL shot. “Ham­mond has been phe­nom­e­nal,” Belleville Sen­a­tors coach Kurt Kleinen­dorst said. “He has been our best player.”

With Bel­lville, Ham­mond is 4-2-1 with a 2.82 goals-against av­er­age and a .912 save per­cent­age. How­ever, af­ter be­ing part of the Duch­ene-Kyle Tur­ris trade, he’s now Colorado Avalanche prop­erty. If the Avalanche trade him, he’s gone. Un­til then, Ham­mond is bat­tling Danny Tay­lor, Chris Driedger and Mar­cus Hog­berg (now with Bramp­ton of the ECHL) for play­ing time. “It’s re­ally about a win­ning thing,” Kleinen­dorst said. “Pierre (Do­rion) is okay with us us­ing Ham­mond.” … Does any­body else rub their eyes when look­ing at Ham­mond’s 20-1-2 record, 1.79 goals-against av­er­age and .941 save per­cent­age with the Sen­a­tors in 201415? Did that re­ally hap­pen? … The NHL and AHL Sen­a­tors are cross­ing their fin­gers that de­fence­man Chris­tian Jaros will re­turn for Wed­nes­day’s game against Le­high Val­ley. Jaros was ex­pected to re­turn from his con­cus­sion last week­end, but failed his base-line test. He had one goal and four as­sists in nine games … Be­cause of callups to the NHL and in­juries, Belleville played last week­end with nine reg­u­lars miss­ing … Lo­gan Brown scored a hat trick and added an as­sist in the Wind­sor Spit­fires’ 6-5 over­time win over the Kitch­ener Rangers on Re­mem­brance Day. Brown had eight goals and seven as­sists in his first eight games af­ter the Sen­a­tors sent him back to the On­tario Hockey League.

TONY CALD­WELL/OT­TAWA SUN

Be­fore he was hurt, Bobby Ryan (pic­tured) was part of an im­pres­sive top line at left wing with cen­tre Der­ick Bras­sard and right winger Mark Stone.

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