OTTAWA — Jean-Gabriel Pageau is the type of hockey player who would play goal if you asked him to.
Fortunately, he's been given an assignment much more to his liking.
With the departure of Derick Brassard, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Ottawa Senators forward has been promoted to second-line centre anchoring Mark Stone and Bobby Ryan.
It's a reunion of sorts. The trio played together last season during the Senators playoff run and enjoyed quite a bit of success together.
"I'm kind of glad the chemistry came back right away," said Pageau, who has 10 goals and 22 points. "Obviously it's only four games, but we've played pretty good and we've had lots of scoring chances and we didn't give too many on the other end, so we'll try to keep it going and keep improving."
Pageau has two goals through those four games, while Stone has four assists and Ryan has a goal and four assists.
"I'm trying to take advantage of it by just working hard and try to keep my play simple and go to the net," Pageau said. "When you play with two smart guys like that on the ice you want to give them the puck. You want them to make the plays and I just try to do my role and keep it simple."
In addition, Pageau has also seen regular time on the power play, which is something he hasn't done for a long time.
"It might have been junior," joked Pageau. "There was a little bit in the American League. I consider myself lucky to be out there right now and I’ll try to work as hard as I can to stay there.
"I'm enjoying my role to be in front of the net and I try to be a distraction in front of their goalie. Right now I think the power play is doing good so hopefully I'll stay there and I'll keep working hard to stay there."
The Senators have scored power-play goals in three of their last four games and Pageau was on the ice for two of them.
Senators coach Guy Boucher has always been a big fan of Pageau, calling him one of the easiest guys he's ever coached. And while he has often been primarily used in a shutdown role it's only because his defensive abilities are so good.
"It's not because he's not good (offensively), it's just the opposite," Boucher said. "He's just so good defensively shutting down the best guys. He shuts down the opponent's top lines, kills penalties, but right now in the absence of Brassard we had to shuffle lines and I knew that Pageau with Stone was always a good connection."
Pageau is a favourite because he's willing to do whatever is asked of him.
"Gabriel just adjusts to whatever you need," Boucher said. "There's no ego, there's no me, me, me. You'd like to have 20 guys like him.
"He's the perfect soldier."
Meanwhile, Chris Wideman continues to inch closer to a return. The Senators defenceman suffered a torn hamstring Nov. 16 and underwent surgery Dec. 4 and it was unclear whether or not he would be done for the season.
Wideman has been working hard in an effort to return before season's end and Wednesday was able to take part in practice, although wearing a non-contact jersey.
"I see the surgeon (Thursday) and we'll see what he thinks and then go from there," said Wideman, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. "We're definitely progressing and a lot further ahead than we thought at this point.
"I'm doing everything in my power to play this year. It's my goal."
The Senators (23-32-10) host the Buffalo Sabres (21-34-11) Thursday night. Craig Anderson will get the start in goal for Ottawa.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press
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