by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators general manager John Muckler has watched his team dominate the opposition during the second half of the regular season and he thinks it will translate into success in the playoffs.
"I like (the team) very much. I think we're playing solid hockey. In the last 36 games we've only lost five games in regulation, so that says we're a pretty good hockey club," Muckler says, adding that chemistry is the key component for playoff success.
"Chemistry is the most important part because you really have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you can win and you have a chance every night. I think we have more depth than we've ever had. Everybody knows his job and everybody is willing to do it. Everybody is contributing. That's what you need in the playoffs. Your stars aren't going to be stars every night, other people have to pick it up when they're not. I think we're equipped to do that."
Muckler says it was during a stretch in January that showed him how his club could respond to trying times and come together as a team. While centres Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette were out of the lineup for a period of time with injuries, others stepped up to fill the void left over while those important players worked hard to get back on the ice.
"A lot of people like to talk about the different preparation this year, us going through the adversity at the start of the year that we never had before. There were real bad times, there's no question about that. We didn't seem to have any chemistry on our hockey club. It all came together, really, when we ran into injuries. We found out people who hadn't (been given) a lot of ice time were now getting more ice time and we had a lot more depth on our team than we thought we did. I think it proved to the coaches that they could go to these people and put them in crucial situations and still get the same results. They stood tall. They brought us through the crucial part of the year."