|Mike Fisher has been instructed to wear a face shield for three weeks after the area around his right eye was cut by a puck in Game 3. Photo: T. Anderson/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
By wrapping up their first-round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, the Ottawa Senators earned a few days off to relax their bumps and bruises. Head coach Bryan Murray, as well as the players, feel the time off will be a benefit.
"A number of days is good, depending on that number," Murray says. "We had 11 days (in between the third round and Stanley Cup finals in 2003) when I was in Anaheim and that was certainly far too much. We may get seven to eight days here. It's a period of time that will give the guys a chance to recover."
Chris Phillips (lower body injury) and Vaclav Varada (upper body injury) could make use of the rest most of all, but team captain Daniel Alfredsson feels it will be a benefit for everyone.
"It's great. The more rest, the better. We'll have some good practices and good workouts. I would rather have this than go to seven games and then start (Round 2) two nights later."
Still, some players are looking forward to getting back into action already.
"This has been a lot of fun," forward Dany Heatley says of his first playoffs. "The intensity has been great. Every game means a lot."
Says Jason Spezza, "Part of you wants to keep playing but the smart part feels the rest is probably good for us."
After being struck near his right eye with the puck in Game 3 against Tampa Bay, Mike Fisher required stitches to close two cuts but managed to return later in the game wearing a visor. The gritty forward was asked what type of determination it takes for a player to play with an injury.
"It was a big game. Everyone else on the team would've done the same thing. I didn't even really second guess getting back out there."
Murray says the dedication of the NHL player is highlighted in events like that.
"It's the uniqueness of the NHL. There's great character among NHL players. They understand injuries are part of the business."