Can I just cut and paste yesterday's post about Phillips? These two play such a similar style and both lack any sort of offensive instinct. The most glaring difference, outside of nationality, is that Volchenkov is often looking for the big hit at the blue line even if it pulls him out of position while Phillips will let the incoming forward across the blue line before trying to stand him up in the slot. When Volchenkov connects on his hits, it lights up the crowd and fires up the bench. When he misses, he has been able to count on Phillips to cut down the open ice left by his partner.
While Phillips takes barbs about slowing down, Volchenkov has made his way to iconic status in Ottawa for sticking his face in front of shots. This isn't necessarily fair to Phillips, it just means that people are starting to notice A-Train's shot blocking and hip checks quite a bit. Good timing since his contract of $2.5M is up this year and he's due for a sizeable raise. Personally, Volchenkov means as much to Ottawa as a Komisarek, wouldn't you agree? So does this mean that we have to give him $4.5M? We need to hope for the return of the hometown discount and trust that Murray can keep him for under $4M
Best moment as a Senator: Game winner in Game 4 at Pittsburgh, 2007. (give it til the 2 minute mark before Comrie's magic sets him up)
Worst moment as a Senator: Hard to come up with one. The puck in the face in the 2008 playoffs was a bit gross, but getting beat up by Shane Doan is probably the low point in an otherwise solid career.
2009-10 Expectations: Count on A-Train to continue on developing into a premier shutdown defenceman in the NHL. While he'll never receive Norris consideration and isn't in a league with a Chara or Stevens, he is solidifying his spot as a terribly difficult defender to play against. If paired with Phillips again this year, then he'll continue to get 20-22 minutes and play against the top forwards of the league. If the two of them are split up and Phillips gets a mentor role, then perhaps Volchenkov can be paired with an offensive player like Campoli or Kuba. What this does, though, is demand more of him positionally. My thought is that he's best when he can step up at the blue line and make a big hit or step into a slot and take a slapshot in the teeth. He needs another defensive partner that can match that style.
Projection: 27 years old and entering his 7th season, A-Train will up the numbers a bit this year in a contract season. Look for 4 goals, 17 assists for his first clip at 21 pts, with a nice +20 to go along with it. His performance with Phillips will go a long way toward getting our goals against back down to a respectable number.
If you question whether or not this dude is worth $4M or more on the open market, enjoy this. Might want to put it on mute, the song is just terrible:
Blackhawks Top Senators in Shootout, Win 5-4
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