Win and they're in.
The task couldn't be any simpler for the Ottawa Senators tonight, when they entertain the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200) in their home and regular-season finale.
But the team's "one mission" got significantly tougher in the wake of Thursday's costly 8-2 whipping of the Maple Leafs in Toronto, during which both captain Daniel Alfredsson
and gritty centre Mike Fisher exited the game with significant injuries.
Head coach/general manager Bryan Murray confirmed this morning that Alfredsson and Fisher will both be lost to the team for a significant period of time. Alfredsson is suffering from "upper body" and knee injuries after absorbing a crushing hit from the Leafs' Mark Bell in the first period, while Fisher is also down with a knee injury.
|Senators centre Mike Fisher is sidelined with a knee injury suffered Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images). |
"I don't know the time frame, but it's going to be awhile," said Murray. "We're talking weeks for both of them."
Alfredsson, a dominant player for the Senators during the run to the Stanley Cup final a year ago, admitted disappointment at not being able to at least begin the playoffs with the Senators, assuming they clinch a spot tonight.
"This is the fun time of year. This is what you wait for," he said. "It's obviously very frustrating that I'm not going to be able to play for a few weeks but I'm hoping I can come back quick and help out."
Fisher left the game in the first period after a knee-on-knee collision with a Leafs player (he believes Bell was also the culprit, too).
"It's disappointing for sure, but I'm going to try to get back as soon as I can," said Fisher. "I'm going to be back sooner than expected, I hope. We'll see. Obviously, it's not good at this point but I'm going to do whatever it takes."
The Senators, who were already missing Chris Kelly (left leg) from their forward ranks, have summoned rookie Nick Foligno
from their American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. Two other rookies who started the season in the minors, forward Cody Bass and defenceman Brian Lee, have already been seeing regular playing time with the Senators.
After both Fisher and Alfredsson went down Thursday night, the Senators rallied together to earn a huge two points against the Leafs. Now they'll have to do it all over tonight against the Bruins to secure a post-season berth for the 11th straight season.
"You lose your captain and another guy (Fisher) who kills penalties and plays the power play ... It is a rally point," said forward Cory Stillman. "You see teams do it. Toronto did it as soon as they lost Mats Sundin. The Carolina Hurricanes did it when they lost Rod Brind'Amour. So it's up to us to go out (and get the job done) and we're looking for big things."
Added forward Chris Neil
: "You lose two elite players like that, it makes it very tough. But I think it's something we can use to pull together here. It's an opportunity for other guys to step up and be leaders in here... We've got to find it from somewhere else now. It's crunch time, one game left before the playoffs and we've got to come out and have a solid game tonight."
The Senators' playoff fate is completely in their hands tonight. With a victory, they'll not only clinch a playoff berth but assure they'll finish no lower than sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. A single point from an overtime/shootout loss would also put the Senators in but open up the prospect of a lower playoff seeding.
"As bad as we played leading up to (Thursday) night's game, we still controlled our own fate and it's no different tonight," said centre Jason Spezza
. "If we win the game or get a point, we guarantee our spot and don't have to rely on other teams. We definitely helped our cause by winning last night and, hopefully, we can get another win and rest easily this weekend."
Even if all goes the Sens' way tonight, there's also the massive chore of heading into the first round of the playoffs without two of their biggest contributors up front. Murray admitted it won't be easy but has faith in the group he still has on hand.
"(Alfredsson and Fisher) are good players for a reason and they're on important lines for a reason," he said. "But they're not here now anymore. Now we have to get guys that play and fill in for them and do a good job. And we have to try to rally this group to be competitive and I think they will be."
Added Fisher: "It's unfortunate that Alfie and I go out in the same game at this time of the year, but the team's going to come together and use this. They played really well (Thursday night). Hopefully, that's what we need to get the team going and get rolling."
Fewer than 150 tickets remain for tonight's game.