Source says Hasek's season is over

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

Is the Dominator done? A source closely connected to individuals within the Senators organization yesterday said yes, Dominik Hasek's season is over, that it's already been determined the star goalie will not be coming back from the strained adductor muscle he suffered at the Olympics.

Now, while it would be surprising if a definite decision had indeed been made, it would serve neither the team nor the player to make such an announcement at this time.

The situation has also reached the stage where it would be more of a shock if No. 39 returned than if he didn't.

Representing his Czech homeland, Hasek went down with the adductor injury in the first period of a Feb. 15 game vs. Germany in Turin and has not played nor practised since. He has skated, but only Thursday did he wear his equipment, and only for a brief period.

HECTIC FINISH

The Senators have only 10 games left -- starting with tonight's tilt at Scotiabank Place against the Capitals -- and they are to be played in the next 18 days. If, after six weeks and two days of rest and treatment, Hasek's groin area is still in such shape that no one can even predict when he's going to resume working out with his teammates, it's hard to imagine the 41-year-old suddenly becoming fit enough to participate in the hectic final 21/2 weeks and the playoffs.

And if he does somehow make a miraculous return for the post-season tournament, there'd have to be considerable breath-holding over how long he'd last ... Take the under.

Again, it's not like you shouldn't have seen this coming.

In the Sun's pre-season NHL supplement, one humble columnist predicted this scenario, saying the Senators will go as far as Ray Emery takes them.

What I should have typed that day was they'll go as far as Emery and Bryan Murray take them.

It's becoming clearer by the game that Murray is making a coach-of-the-year-type impact, but never more so than in Thursday's 4-1 win over the Rangers.

A combination of talent and schemes have the Senators on a spectacular regular-season path. Heading into last night's action, they led both the NHL in goals for (by 13 over Detroit) and goals against (by nine over Calgary). Only two teams have won both categories since the league expanded from six members in 1967-68. The 1976-77 Canadiens, who finished with a 60-8-12 record, and the 1977-78 Habs, who had a 59-10-11 final mark.

Also, in victory Thursday, they avoided their first three-game winless streak of the season. Only one team in the past 10 years -- the 2000-01 Red Wings -- has gone an entire season without failing to pick up a 'W' in a three-game stretch.

Most impressive about the convincing win over the Rangers, however, was the lineup that produced it. Without Hasek, Zdeno Chara, Chris Phillips, Wade Redden, Mike Fisher and Marty Havlat, the Senators were relying on eight rookies.

Shutting down a New York team that has won twice as many games as its lost, Murray did some magnificent juggling. Most notably was the move of putting responsible rookie Chris Kelly on the left wing of a line with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, two offensive gems Murray convinced to concentrate equally as hard in their own end.

SHUT DOWN JAGR

As a result, Jaromir Jagr, the NHL's top scorer, managed only one assist and five shots on goal in 24:19 of work. Jagr was battling a cold and following the game said he wouldn't have suited up if not for the fact he had time afterward to rest as the Rangers were entering a four-day break. Kelly, who was in Jagr's face all night, somehow was symptom-free yesterday.

"No sniffles," he said with a smile after practice. "I'm all right."

Better than all right, in truth. Kelly is exceptional.

Murray said the Kelly-Spezza-Heatley line is a possible playoff combo, and that he now expectes more two-way play from Heatley and Spezza.

"I told them they've really screwed themselves," Murray said. "Now we know what they're capable of, we're going to expect it on a nightly basis. Anything less is unacceptable."

Meanwhile, Emery tied a 32-year-old NHL record for most wins in a month (12) that was held by former Flyer Bernie Parent. Earlier this season, Emery set a record for longest winning streak to start a career (nine), passing a standard that was set by another Flyer, Bob Froese, in 1982-83.

"I didn't even know about it," Emery, whose dad Paul grew up a Flyers fan, said of tying Parent's record. "I'm sure he didn't play as many games as we did this month (16), but Bernie Parent ... that's pretty cool."

It was cool that he erased Froese's record, too. But you better hope the 23-year-old Emery stays pretty hot now, Senators fans.

DON.BRENNAN@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


Videos

Photos