Hasek's pain the price

Ottawa Senators goalie Dominik Hasek will likely not see any playoff hockey action at the start of...

Ottawa Senators goalie Dominik Hasek will likely not see any playoff hockey action at the start of the second round. (Ottawa Sun File/Brigitte Bouvier)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

In case anyone still hoped differently, the long layoff will not be long enough for Dominik Hasek.

Saying his injury feels no better now than it did when the regular season ended, the Dominator himself yesterday expressed doubt he'll be around when Round 2 begins -- either Friday or, more likely, Monday.

"At this point, I am not very optimistic that I could start the next series," the Senators goalie told a lingering media audience of two at Scotiabank Place.

"But who knows. It almost seems like the harder I work, it gets worse. I don't feel an improvement the last week or two. It's very frustrating. But I still try to do what I'm asked to do, and hope it's going to be better."

Hasek, who suffered an adductor muscle strain at the Olympics Feb. 15 and has not played since, is now using the dreaded G-word in talking about his problem.

Groin injuries have plagued him throughout his career -- and even shelved him after 14 games the last time he tried to play a full season in 2003-04 with Detroit.

"Of course, there are some days I feel more frustrated and there are some days I'm smiling more," said Hasek. "I still come every day and do what I'm supposed to do ... work on my groin. Not only on the groin ... I have to keep in shape, my whole body.

"I try to have fun. Sometimes I have more fun, sometimes I have less fun. But overall I still believe that this team can do it without me and when I'll be ready, I'll be ready."

Hasek chuckled when asked about a story in a Prague newspaper that had his former Czech goalie coach -- 71-year-old Josef Bruk -- making tentative travel plans here to help him with his comeback.

"I don't know anything about it," said Hasek. "He's a great guy, we were talking to each other a few times, but there are no plans. He wants to come, if I am going to play. He wants to see me."

Hasek, like his teammates and coach, believes the Senators can thrive with Ray Emery between the pipes.

The 23-year old rookie was a star in Ottawa's elimination of the Tampa Bay Lightning, stopping 158 of 171 shots (.924 save percentage) while posting a 2.62 goals against average.

'VERY TALENTED GOALIE'

"I think he played really well in the first round," said Hasek. "I know he's a very talented goalie and he can do the job for us, definitely."

Jason Spezza said the players, too, have faith in Emery.

"It's Ray's job," he said. "I think going into the playoffs, it was his job, too. He's played 40 games for us. I don't think people realized that. We loved having Dom in the net. He was great for us. But Dom's been out for awhile now. This has been Ray's team since Dom went out."

The possibility of Hasek coming back and what might then be a "goaltending controversy" is not a topic of conversation among the players, captain Daniel Alfredsson said.

"It's not something that in this dressing room is on our mind," said Alfredsson. "I totally understand the media making a big deal out of this, but the coaching staff is going to handle this the right way, I have no doubt about that at all."


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