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Alfie to the rescue?

Spezza's good to go; Sens coach admits there's hope for captain, too

Monday, 14.04.2008 / 12:06 PM / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Alfie to the rescue?
Jason Spezza says he's good to go against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.

But might captain Daniel Alfredsson make a heroic return at Scotiabank Place, with the Senators down 2-0 in their Eastern Conference quarter-final series and in dire need of a victory in Game 3?

"I'm not shutting the door on him (playing tonight)," head coach/general manager Bryan Murray told reporters when asked about Alfredsson's status after the Senators' pre-game skate this morning.

Alfredsson (upper body/knee) has been sidelined since April 3, when Mark Bell of the Toronto Maple Leafs levelled him with a questionable hit during the first period of the Senators' 8-2 victory at the Air Canada Centre. Murray said the captain skated for the first time since the injury on Sunday, but no decision has been made yet about him possibly playing tonight.

"We're going to talk again this afternoon and see where we stand," he said. "He'll tell me if he's able to play."

Centres Mike Fisher (knee) and Chris Kelly (left leg) have yet to try skating and Murray said there was no immediate timetable for either of them getting on the ice.

The prospect of an early return by Alfredsson, though, created the biggest media buzz this morning. While the Senators players were buoyed by the mere mention of possibly getting their captain back tonight, they're still preparing to hit the ice without him in the lineup.

"It would be big. He's our captain," said forward Dany Heatley. "He proved he was a big playoff performer last year and it would be a big boost to have him back.

"But at the same time, I don't think any of us can expect him (to be) back. I don't think any one in the room really knows what the deal is. We're kind of waiting to see ourselves."

Added forward Cory Stillman: "(Alfredsson's return) would be news to me, too. If he does come back into the lineup, it's a big lift for us, obviously. You don't replace him. But I think we approach the game as if he's not playing."

Defenceman Wade Redden said he expects "it'll be a game-time decision."

"We'll find out at 7 o'clock," he said. "I don't know what (his) status is, exactly. I guess it's going to depend on how it feels, how it goes in warmups.

"it would be a big boost for us seeing him back out there... I guess he'll make the call later and we'll have to be ready, regardless of who's in the lineup."

What the Senators do know for sure, though, is that Spezza will be in uniform tonight. The team's No. 1 centre didn't skate all weekend after banging up a leg during Game 2 Friday night in Pittsburgh. But Spezza took part in the full pre-game skate today and afterward, declared himself in for tonight's game.

"I knew I had to skate today to see how I felt," said Spezza. "I'm not 100 per cent but I'll be fine tonight."

Bodycheck, the official playoff program of the Ottawa Senators, is now available on-line. Check it out right here.



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