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Saturday, April 21, 2012
Stone to make NHL debut for Sens?

By Katie Strang

It appears Senators prospect Mark Stone is headed for a monumental jump. Should he make his NHL debut Saturday against the Rangers, the 19-year-old Winnipeg native faces a daunting transition: going straight from junior hockey to the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Senators coach Paul MacLean would not tip his hand on tonight's lineup, but the 6-3, 200-pound Stone skated with the team and sounded ready to get his first taste of NHL action.

"If I get in tonight, it will be something special for me and I'm excited to do it," said Stone, who recently finished his fourth season with 41 goals and 82 assists in 66 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League.

With both captain Daniel Alfredsson and Jesse Winchester out for the Senators, Stone may provide a welcome shot in the arm for the team heading into Game 5 with the series tied 2-2.

"I think he brings some life and excitement," said Senators forward Nick Foligno. "We're excited to have him in the lineup."

Alternate captain Jason Spezza had a similar experience to Stone back in 2003, when he appeared for the Senators in the playoffs as a rookie, and said the situation is a "no-lose" for the former sixth-round pick. Essentially: little pressure and great opportunity.

"You have the chance to make good things happen."

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Alfredsson, who did not make the trip with the team to New York, skated back in Ottawa and "made progress" according to MacLean. There were no changes to report on Winchester's status.