No joke: Mark Stone could return to Senators lineup for home game Monday

 

 
 
 
 
Senators forward Mark Stone has been sidelined by a leg injury, but skated again Saturday, is expected to skate Sunday and could return to the lineup for Sunday's home game against the Winnipeg Jets. Jean Levac/Postmedia
 

Senators forward Mark Stone has been sidelined by a leg injury, but skated again Saturday, is expected to skate Sunday and could return to the lineup for Sunday's home game against the Winnipeg Jets. Jean Levac/Postmedia

DETROIT – Good one, Guy Boucher.

We didn’t see that coming.

Whether the Ottawa Senators coach had an early April Fool’s Day joke in mind or was simply having a little late-season fun, he definitely caught a few Ottawa media members off-guard Saturday morning.

Asked about any line-up changes before Saturday’s matinee against the Detroit Red Wings, Boucher kept a straight face as he responded.

“Yeah, (Mark) Stone came in late (Friday) night on a plane and he’s here today,” Boucher said.

Er, what?

After waiting for the shock of that answer to settle in, the Senators coach provided the actual update on Stone.

“Honestly, it has gone well,” he said. “It really depends on this weekend and what Gerry (Townend, director of sports medicine) is going to tell us back home, how far he has gone.”

Stone skated Saturday and could be on the ice again Sunday.

There’s a potential that the club’s top forward, who has been out of the lineup since March 9 because of a leg injury, could face his hometown Winnipeg Jets at Canadian Tire Centre on Monday.

“I’m crossing fingers for Monday, but really, it’s going to be up to the medical staff and him to tell us where he is at,” Boucher said. “But it has gone well. It hasn’t retracted back, so that’s a good thing.”

Despite playing in only 58 games, Stone leads the Senators in scoring, with 20 goals and 48 assists. He also owns a plus/minus of plus nine while playing on a team that has been outscored 267-208, including Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Detroit.

Boucher’s joke about a sudden Stone return came almost exactly a year after Erik Karlsson’s startling return to the line-up in Detroit in the final week of the 2016-17 regular season.

Karlsson, who had hurt his foot the previous week – ultimately, after the Senators long playoff run, he had the invasive off-season surgery to repair two hairline fractures – had originally stayed at home to nurse the injury.

Needing every point in order to qualify for the playoffs, however, Karlsson took a charter flight of his own into Detroit for the April 3 game, joining the team under a cloak-and-dagger scenario.

Karlsson scored in what turned out to be a 5-4 shootout loss, helping the Senators secure a valuable point in the quest for the playoffs.

Perhaps, if the Senators were in a similar tight race for the playoffs this time, Stone would have been the one making the surprise appearance in the lineup.

kwarren@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

 
 
 
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Senators forward Mark Stone has been sidelined by a leg injury, but skated again Saturday, is expected to skate Sunday and could return to the lineup for Sunday's home game against the Winnipeg Jets. Jean Levac/Postmedia
 

Senators forward Mark Stone has been sidelined by a leg injury, but skated again Saturday, is expected to skate Sunday and could return to the lineup for Sunday's home game against the Winnipeg Jets. Jean Levac/Postmedia

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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