Will the Dominator be primed for the post-season?
That is The $64,000 Question as the Senators prepare for their regular-season finale tomorrow against the Rangers in New York.
While goaltender Dominik Hasek, who hasn't played in more than two months since suffering an adductor muscle injury at the Olympics, still hopes to suit up tomorrow night -- it appears highly unlikely.
One thing is certain, the Senators aren't going to make any more predictions when it comes to figuring out a time line for Hasek's return.
"I don't know (if Hasek will play). He told us that he's still aiming for (tomorrow) so we'll see. I'm not going to guess," Senators GM John Muckler said following Ottawa's 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday night.
The Senators initially thought Hasek would play in the Toronto game, but that was scuttled after the netminder suffered a setback during practice on Thursday.
The verdict on Hasek likely won't be made until after the pre-game skate tomorrow. He was moving around better during the morning skate in Toronto on Saturday, but he's still having issues with going down to the ice and getting back up.
So after getting the day off yesterday from coach Bryan Murray to reflect upon (or forget about) Saturday's dismal performance in Hogtown, the Senators will hit the ice today as though No. 2 goalie Ray Emery will be the starter in the playoffs.
The Senators, who will face one of the Canadiens, Lightning or Thrashers in Round 1, begin post-season play on Friday at Scotiabank Place. Game 2 will be held there Sunday.
If Hasek isn't ready to go, the Senators maintain they are confident in Emery, who had a blistering 12-2-2 record in March, but is now nursing a sore hip and a five-game losing skid.
"We've been in the mindset (for a while) that Ray Emery is going to be the guy if (Hasek) isn't ready to go," said Muckler. "We have no problems if (Emery) is going to be our goalkeeper. If (Hasek) is ready to go, then that's great because then we have two goalkeepers. But Emery has shown he can play at this level."
The Senators have won only three of their past 12 games. That's not the way they want to be playing going into the playoffs.
INJURED GUYS BACK
A win against the Rangers would go a long way to boosting the team's confidence.
The Senators believed the return of Mike Fisher (ankle), Zdeno Chara (hand), Martin Havlat (shoulder) and Wade Redden (personal) to the lineup would help the club get back on track.
Right now the Senators almost look like they're trying to get to know each at training camp at a time of year teams are gearing up for the post-season.
"We've got to start playing better as a team and we want to see where everybody is going to fit for the playoffs," said Murray. "We have to work together and I think what's happening right now is the players are trying to find a comfort level with each other."