Scanlan: Regin, trying to bounce back from tough year, leaves game

Don’t bother criticizing Peter Regin for the season he had last year. He’ll beat you to it.

BY WAYNE SCANLAN

Don’t bother criticizing Peter Regin for the season he had last year.

He’ll beat you to it.

Of course, the once-promising centre had plenty of time to think about his situation, with the Senators missing the playoffs and Regin sidelined with a shoulder injury from Feb. 19 through the duration of the regular season. He used the opportunity to put himself in the best mental and physical condition he could for Ottawa’s 2011 training camp, and the results have been obvious from the first day here — at least until Tuesday night.

“I feel good, I feel like I’m back,” Regin said prior to the final home preseason date against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He wasn’t back for long in this one. Regin played just three minutes before retiring for the evening with what was described as a shoulder injury. Regin separated a shoulder last February that ended his season.

Hopefully, the injury is not serious. Regin could use a break and had been impressing his new coaches with his preseason form.

“I feel like I’m skating good and that’s the most important part of my game,” Regin said. “If I’m skating well, then I get the opportunities and I get back, I’m in the spots where I need to be.

“When I’m not skating well, that’s when I get into trouble.”

There’s only so many ways NHL players can carve up the offseason. They skate a lot or they skate very little. They muscle up, they trim down. Regin tried the muscle-up approach last fall, coming to camp so bulky it seemed to slow him down.

So, this past summer he dropped several pounds and skated more than he has in years, including sessions with Senators skating coach Marc Power. In August, Regin was on the ice nearly every day with his hometown team, the club team of his youth, the Herning Blue Sox.

Sounds like they should be competing in the Can-Am baseball league.

“I got some real good practice in, because they have their training camp in August,” Regin says. “So I think that’s why I feel better, skating-wise.”

Sometimes players create their own opportunity, and sometimes circumstances pave the way. Ottawa’s young centres vaulted up the depth chart last spring when second- and third-line centres Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly were dealt in a rebuilding program.

For the season Regin had — three goals, 14 assists in 55 games — he has to consider himself fortunate to have the inside track on the No. 2 centre position, trying to fend off a couple of bright rookies named Mika Zibanejad and Stéphane Da Costa. Whether at centre or wing, Zibanejad, 18, seems certain to start the season in Ottawa, to get at least nine games before a decision is made on his status. The big Swede has scored three times in the preseason, each one a High Definition display of his hand skills. His latest came Tuesday night when he knocked a puck out of mid-air to deliver a power play goal. Now, Regin’s injury could mean further opportunity for Zibanejad.

Da Costa is also out, with a lower-body injury.

Regin put up a promising rookie season in 2009-10, scoring 13 goals and 16 assists, to go with three playoff goals and a helper in six games against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The club knows he had it in him. It’s a matter of Regin being closer to what he used to be then, not what he was during a 2010-11 season that was a write-off for several good players on this team.

Now, it’s also about staying healthy.

“Last year in camp I felt good, but it’s just the way we started out, and the way I played, I didn’t score for a lot of games there (15 straight to open the season, but who’s counting?)

“You just get down on yourself. You learn from those things. And with the injury, I got a lot of time to think about it, and to prepare myself for this camp.”

Like all of the young veterans, Regin has fed off the energy from the prospects, though he hopes his own injury didn’t just open a door for one of them.

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