April 3, 2012
Senators could know playoff foe tonight
By Don Brennan, QMI AGENCY
The Senators could have their first-round playoff opponent decided as soon as Tuesday night.
If so, it will be the Boston Bruins.
Should the New Jersey Devils defeat the visiting New York Islanders and Ottawa takes one point - but not two - from its home tilt with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Senators will be locked into a seventh-place finish and an opening round series with the defending champs.
If the cards fall differently Tuesday, they could still wind up facing either the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins or Florida Panthers.
Other than missing defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who will take the night off to rest a minor lower body injury, the Senators will be going with their best lineup versus the Hurricanes.
Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson will return to the lineup after missing Sunday's playoff spot clincher in Long Island, while goalie Craig Anderson will make his fourth consecutive start while trying to extend his personal winning streak to five games.
"We want to keep working on our game, keep controlling what we can control, and that's fine tuning and getting better every day," Anderson said after Tuesday's morning skate at Scotiabank Place. "We want to make sure we're ready for Game 83."
That, of course, is Game 1 of the playoffs.
Spezza is getting back from "a real exciting couple of days" after his wife gave birth to their second child early Sunday morning.
He doesn't anticipate the Senators having any type of emotional letdown after pushing hard to secure their post-season berth.
"We're proud of what we've accomplished, making the playoffs, but I think we feel we have a lot of work left to do," said Spezza. "We're not just happy to get into the playoffs, so these next three games can be building blocks towards a successful playoff and that's the way we have to approach it."
Following the game with Carolina, the Senators host the Bruins Thursday in a possible preview and wind up their schedule with a visit to New Jersey for a Saturday afternoon tilt.