The Ottawa Senators will have a welcome addition Tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights at the Canadian Tire Centre.
It looks like winger Brady Tkachuk is ready to return.
Tkachuk, who finished the game after tearing a ligament in his left leg Oct. 15 against the Dallas Stars, was taking regular shifts during the club’s skate at home Wednesday and is expected to get the green light to play against the Knights.
That would be a quicker than expected return for Tkachuk, who was supposed to be out a month when the injury originally took place.
“I’ve got to talk the trainers and the coaches, nothing official, but I felt good out there,” Tkachuk said Wednesday. “I feel like I’m game-ready. I felt really good on the ice today. We’ll see what the coaches and the trainers have to say.”
Coach Guy Boucher told reporters Wednesday afternoon he was just waiting for Tkachuk to get the green light. He may only be 19 years old, but he’s made a positive impact with 3-3-6 points in four games and a hard-nosed style that makes him valuable.
He suffered the injury in the first period against the Stars, but managed to finish the game, but had a hard time walking when taking off his gear. The next day, the ligament injury was diagnosed and since then he’s been working hard to get back in the lineup.
“It’s tough to watch,” he admitted. “I want to be out there so bad and I want to do what I can for the team. It was tough to know at the start I was going to be out for a month. It was tough, but I’m better because of it.
“I’m super-excited to get back. I don’t know when that will be, but I loved watching the team doing well and I can’t wait to be out there.”
Tkachuk skated on a line with veterans Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker, which is likely the way the Senators will start Thursday. Boucher told reporters Tuesday that Tkachuk wanted to play that night, so he’s champing at the bit to get into the lineup.
“I’ve been trying to do that (return to playing) for a while now but I knew I wasn’t ready,” Tkachuk said. “I want to be out there. I want to contribute, I want to play and I want to help the team in any way I can. I’ve been anxious to get out there.
“Hopefully it’s tomorrow, but we’ll see.”
He isn’t going to change his style just because he’s coming off an injury.
“For me, it’s just trying not to think about it,” Tkachuk said. “That’s when (an injury) is an issue, when you think about it and you’re worried about it.
“My mindset is to play better than I was before. I’m in better shape. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the couple of weeks I haven’t been playing and I’ve been watching and really picking up on things. My mindset is just that I want to be better.”
ANDERSON READY TO GO
Breathe a sigh of relief, Ottawa, Craig Anderson was just given a bit of a rest Wednesday.
He will be back in the net Thursday night.
Anderson, who was taken out of Tuesday’s 7-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils with 5:03 left in the game, wasn’t on the ice for the club’s skate, but that was done for precautionary reasons.
With Mike Condon assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville, the Senators went with Mike McKenna to finish the game because there was no point taking any chances with Anderson, who stopped 30 of 33 shots before he left.
“He just tweaked something (Tuesday) and that’s why we were like, ‘OK, we’re not going to take a chance here and make it worse,’ ” said coach Guy Boucher Wednesday. “The two or three shifts before we pulled him out we were aware of it.
“Because of the score, to be honest with you, we were at that point.”
Winger Bobby Ryan also left late in the game and wasn’t on the ice Wednesday, either, but he’s expected to play.
THE LAST WORDS
Boucher has been pleased with the way the young players have stepped up. He pointed to what he’s seen from centre Colin White, who has been taking steps in the right direction for months. “Right now, no games or moments of the season where there’s a defining moment,” Boucher said. “It’s a constant progression of our players and progression never means a straight line. That’s not the way the progress works. Over a long period of time — 10 to 15 games — you see the starting point and the end point, and then you see progression. In between, it’s not a straight line, it’s up and down.” … The Senators will have some decisions to make on defence if everybody is healthy. Veteran Mark Borowiecki, who missed Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed injury, was back on the ice Wednesday and is expected to suit up against the Knights. If the club goes with 12 forwards and six defencemen, two blueliners will have to be scratched. It’s possible that Erik Burgdoerfer, a healthy scratch Tuesday, could be sent back to Belleville if Boroweicki is able to return. He skated in the fourth pairing with Chris Wideman on Wednesday but Boucher also likes the 11 forwards and seven defencemen alignment, so decisions are up in the air.