Dom ready to gear up

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:07 PM ET

The Dominator is not done.

As Dominik Hasek circled the ice at Scotiabank Place yesterday, it looked more like he was trying to make a comeback as a winger, not as a goalie.

Though he was still missing goalie pads, Hasek was all smiles and said he'll be in full gear today for the first time since suffering an adductor muscle injury at the Olympics.

And the Senators veteran, who told reporters he's made great progress with the injury in the last 7-10 days, sounded confident he'll play in the post-season.

"Yeah, that's my goal," said Hasek when asked if he'd be ready for the playoffs. "I feel really good. The next thing for me is to go out in full equipment and then start practising with my teammates."

ON ICE FOR 65 MINUTES

Hasek skated early yesterday with injured defenceman Zdeno Chara and winger Martin Havlat under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Randy Lee. Then, the 41-year-old netminder took part in an optional skate before retreating to the dressing room after being on the ice for more than 65 minutes.

Though it looked a little bizarre at the first sight, Hasek skated around the ice, spinning around, going up and down. He even stopped the odd shot while skating as a winger in a warmup drill with backup goalie Mike Morrison.

"There's no question that (yesterday) was a big step for me and I definitely feel better," said Hasek. "I don't know when I will be back, but I definitely feel a lot better. The injury has made a lot of progress. I feel like for the first time I can do everything out there, and next up is equipment."

There were a lot of keen observers -- including some players -- when Hasek was skating with Chara and Havlat. Coach Bryan Murray was among them and was pleased with what he saw because there have been whispers the goalie wouldn't return this season.

"He wanted to get out there in equipment and he looks a lot better," said Murray.

Though there is a lot of concern that Hasek won't have enough time to be ready for the playoffs with only six games and 10 days left in the regular season, Murray doesn't think it will take much for Hasek to get back into game shape.

EMERY WILL START

"He is a well-conditioned athlete and he's really healthy," said Murray. "He's played a lot of games this year. He's got a good fitness level and we all know about his flexibility. A guy like (Hasek) could play a couple of games and be back to where he was before."

For now, the Senators are going to ride Ray Emery, who has been nursing a sore hip and was stretching during every stoppage in play in the club's 5-3 loss to the Canadiens. He will, however, be between the pipes tonight when Ottawa hosts Buffalo.

"Everything is going to be fine. I was just a little sore," said Emery, who didn't skate yesterday, instead opting for treatment with trainer Gerry Townend.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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