GM: Heat off young guns

Ottawa Senators forwards Dany Heatley (left) and Jason Spezza joke around at practice on Monday...

Ottawa Senators forwards Dany Heatley (left) and Jason Spezza joke around at practice on Monday morning. Sens GM John Muckler won't pressure anyone to be a playoff hero. (Ottawa Sun/Blair Gable)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

John Muckler isn't going to put pressure on anybody to be a playoff hero.

That's why the Senators GM wouldn't bite yesterday when it was suggested Ray Emery, Jason Spezza or Dany Heatley have to elevate their play for Ottawa to go on a lengthy Stanley Cup chase.

"We're not a one-man hockey club. We've got a lot of weapons," said Muckler of his team, which begins its Cup quest tomorrow night at Scotiabank Place against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And he's right. For the Senators, the challenge is to make sure they're firing on all cylinders so they can bring home the Cup they've so badly wanted since rejoining the NHL in 1992.

With the exception of goaltender Dominik Hasek -- who continues to nurse an adductor muscle injury -- the Senators will be completely healthy for Game 1 against the Bolts, with defenceman Chris Phillips ready to return from a knee injury.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Sure, there is going to be plenty expected of Emery to fill Hasek's considerable shoes. But Spezza and Heatley also have a lot to prove after having huge regular seasons.

Heatley became the Senators' first-ever 50-goal scorer in racking up 103 points, while Spezza collected 90 points of his own.

"I don't want to put a lot of pressure on anybody," said Muckler. "This is a team sport and we have a lot of great individuals who help make up this team.

"We've got (captain Daniel Alfredsson), Heatley, Spezza and now we've got (Martin Havlat) back. There's a lot of talent there and we've got a lot of guys who can lead on our blue line. I don't think we have to put the pressure on one guy to do it. We have to have everybody step up as a team to get the job done."

Muckler knows the heat will be turned up on Emery -- who has never started a playoff game -- but the GM said this will be a good test at this point in his career.

"He wants to be viewed as a solid goalkeeper in this league," said Muckler. "He wants to prove to people that he's capable of playing in big games like this.

"Look, this is a guy who has passed a lot of tests already. Everybody has to have a first time where they get the experience. I remember Bill Ranford with Edmonton in 1990 ... I don't think he had any playoff experience and ended up being the MVP. Everybody has to win the Stanley Cup for the first time."

NOT NERVOUS

Emery, who had a 23-11-3 record during the regular season with a 2.82 goals-against average, didn't look nervous after a one-hour workout yesterday at Scotiabank Place.

"Look, I'm just looking forward to getting the chance to play in the playoffs," said Emery. "That's what you want to get in your career and this is going to be a good challenge for me."

Heatley, getting ready to participate in the playoffs for the first time in his career, isn't feeling the butterflies, either.

"This is why I am so excited about being here," he said. "You want the chance to play in the playoffs during your career and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

"This is the time of year that you want to be playing. You know that the intensity is going to be high here and that's what this is all about. This is going to be a lot of fun."


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