Even though the Boston Bruins have brought a B team to Ottawa — no Tim Thomas, no Zdeno Chara, no Patrice Bergeron — Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean is dressing what looks a reasonable fascimile of his playoff lineup for tonight’s game at Scotiabank Place.
The one significant difference is that Ben Bishop will start in goal, with post-season starter Craig Anderson serving as back-up. Matt Gilroy, Kaspars Daugavins, Rob Klinkhammer. Zenon Konopka and Alex Auld will be healthy scratches.
If the Senators pick up a single point from the game, or if Washington fails to defeat the the Florida Panthers tonight, the teams will meet each other in the playoffs next week.
The Bruins have opted to rest their stars. Veteran minor league goaltender Anton Khudobin is expected to make his NHL debut for the Bruins.
MacLean, however, isn’t taking that route.
While it’s possible that injuries can occur in a game – it happened to former Senators defenceman Wade Redden in a regular season finale many years ago – MacLean says he’s not letting that bother him as the club closes out the season.
“If you let it, it can (be a concern),” he said following Thursday’s morning skate. “But it could happen in Game 2, as well, or Game 52 or Game 67. A lot of our players want to play, too. They want to play 82 games. They have some things that they take a lot of pride in – having the ability to play in 82 games or 80 games, that’s a big part of a player’s resume, that you can be consistent and we want to give them that opportunity.”
Additionally, too much time off can become a negative, as well. A series between the Senators and Bruins isn’t likely to start until next Thursday.
“It’s a long time between games,” said MacLean. “If you don’t play tonight, don’t play the next game and don’t play for 10 days, that’s a big chunk of time, so we try to consider all the factors and make the decisions that our best for our team.”
Senators players were trying not to make too much of the contest being a potential playoff game, but the goal is to play as hard as possible to get into playoff mode, regardless of the opposition.