Dream matchup must wait

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin?

Pick your poison.

The Senators could get one or the other when the dust settles today after the Pittsburgh Penguins close out the season against the Philadelphia Flyers.

If the Penguins win, the Senators will stay in the No. 6 hole and will face the No. 3-ranked Washington Capitals. Should the Flyers win, then Ottawa will finish seventh and face the No. 2-ranked Penguins.

One thing is certain: The team won't get to face the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens and that's too bad because it would have done a lot for the developing Hwy. 417 rivalry and been a dream matchup for residents of the area.

"I'd like to face Tampa," quipped Senators coach and GM Bryan Murray. "I can't say it matters at this point in time. What else would I say?"

Before last night's action, former Habs coach Jacques Demers said he'd love to see the Senators and Montreal face off in the playoffs.

"It would be the best thing to happen between these two teams because it has never happened before," said Demers, an RDS analyst and the last coach to lead Montreal to a Stanley Cup in 1993.

"It could be very intense. I think it would be great. It's about time these two teams met in the playoffs," he said.

"A rivalry always gets stronger once you meet in the playoffs."

Maybe next year.

Come together

Murray will start looking for the right line combinations tomorrow at practice. Like everybody else, he's trying to adjust to life without injured captain Daniel Alfredsson (knee/neck) and C Mike Fisher (knee), who will both be out for the start of the playoffs. Coupled with the loss of C Chris Kelly (foot), who has already been out for an extended period, Murray is trying to find out where everybody fits.

Murray hinted one of the three -- believed to be Alfredsson -- could be back in the second round.

"It's definitely going to be the first round that we're short and then, hopefully, we'll get lucky and one of them might be able to come back, but I don't know that," said Murray.

Life is different without Alfredsson and Fisher, who were both injured in the club's 8-2 romp over the Maple Leafs Thursday and missed Friday's 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Murray tried using veteran Martin Lapointe with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza against the Bruins, but the experiment didn't work very well. Antoine Vermette centred Cory Stillman and Shean Donovan on the second line. "I'm still with (Spezza). We had (Lapointe) and (Randy Robitaille) a bit (Friday). I really think (Vermette) has stepped up in the last couple of nights," said Heatley. "He's confident and I feel he can continue to fill that second-line centre role.

"Those two guys (Alfredsson and Fisher) are definitely big parts of our team, so we're going to have to find ways to fill those gaps." Heatley said. "But, at this time of year, a lot of teams are going through injuries. That's part of what makes you a good team."

Schedule adjustment

It's believed the CBC has requested the Senators play on opposite nights of the Habs, which means they'll open Wednesday and Friday on the road with Game 3 next Sunday and Game 4 the following Tuesday in Ottawa.

The Habs open their series at home Thursday.

Scotiabank Place is booked for Stars on Ice April 19.


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