Sens have chance to clear things up quickly

SHORT HILLS, New Jersey — The Ottawa Senators know they’ll be playing the Boston Bruins or the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.
But they could be waiting until maybe 10:30 p.m. tonight to find out for sure, since it could depend upon the outcome of their game against the New Jersey Devils (3 p.m.), the Washington Capitals’ game against the New York Rangers (6:30 p.m.), and the Florida Panthers’ game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Senators could make it easy by settling it in the afternoon by getting at least a point from the Devils. Then they’d have seventh for sure and would face the Bruins.
But if they don’t, they’ll have to wait for the other games to finish.
Depending on the results, the Capitals could finish third, seventh, or eighth, the Panthers could finish third or eighth, and the Senators could finish seventh or eighth.
The Senators would like to win this game against the Devils, to end a two-game losing streak.
But they really aren’t horribly distressed with the losses to the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins.
They played reasonably able well, but they’re struggling after the high of clinching a playoff berth last weekend.
“We wanted to play a good game against Carolina (on Tuesday), and we weren’t terrible, but at the same time the desperation level is not there,” said Daniel Alfredsson.
“That’s a big factor in the last two games.
“We’ve been working so long all year just to get into the playoffs, once you do it’s ‘Phew.’
“It’s tough to fake that emotion or get it anytime you want.
“But once the atmosphere of the playoffs arrives, you’re going to be nervous the day before the game, and nervous the day after the game.
“It’s just a total different process for your body, your brain, and everything, that kind of gets you in that mode that has you on hyper-alert.”
So the goal today will be to play as well as they can while trying not to think ahead to the playoffs.
“Just try to work on things, keep good habits, and I think both teams want to do that,” said Alfredsson.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an overly physical afford, probably much the same as (Thursday’s) game.
“It’s great to be (in this position) with one game to go. It’s a long year and a lot of work goes into it.
“It just feels really good knowing we’re going to play next week.”

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