President's Choice

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Winning the President's Trophy would be nice ... but Senators coach Bryan Murray won't push his players to do it.

With five regulars injured and out -- including defencemen Zdeno Chara and Anton Volchenkov -- the Senators trail Detroit (103) by only one point for top spot.

While Murray would like his team to be first overall, he won't bring injured players back early or start giving certain players more ice time.

Coming off a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday at the Wachovia Center, the Senators had yesterday off as they prepare to open a four-game homestand tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils.

"Right now, what we're doing is we're playing four lines and we're using five defencemen, and sometimes six, on most nights," said Murray.

"I believe that you should want to be playing well going into the playoffs. What we're not doing is pushing anybody too hard. We're not going to let that happen. I want us playing well as a team."

Murray said the Senators will not take drastic measures to try and win the President's Trophy.

That's why the Senators haven't put a timetable on goalie Dominik Hasek and his adductor muscle injury. They don't want him back until he's healthy and confident he can play to his capabilities.

"If we wanted we could probably (have) put Anton Volchenkov in the lineup (Saturday) and we could probably rush other guys back to get them playing," said Murray.

"We're not going to do that. We aren't going to be taking any risks with players and we want to make sure that everybody is 100% healthy when they come back and play."

The Senators players would like to win the President's Trophy and it's a good goal down the stretch.

"It would be a good achievement for us," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "If we won (the trophy), it would just be something else that we could take into the playoffs with us, but the more important thing for us is to be playing well."

Murray isn't downplaying the importance of the President's Trophy and hopes the Senators beat out teams like Detroit and Carolina for the hardware.

"I believe it's meaningful," said Murray. "It's hard to win a trophy like that and it says a lot about the commitment you've made during the regular season. And if you happen to get to the final, then it means you have home ice advantage in that seventh game and that could be really important."


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