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Alfredsson 'very close' to return

Captain should know by game time whether he'll face off against Coyotes

Friday, 17.10.2008 / 11:34 AM / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Alfredsson \'very close\' to return
Two rival players shook their heads in almost disbelief as they watched Daniel Alfredsson go full tilt during his team's pre-game skate.

Imagine what the Phoenix Coyotes might think if the Ottawa Senators captain does indeed suit up for their Friday night matchup at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

It just might happen. Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg said this morning that Alfredsson is "very close" to returning to the team's lineup, just a week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his right knee. A final decision is expected before tonight's pre-game warm-up.

Alfredsson's biggest concern is the fact the Senators are slated for back-to-back games tonight against Phoenix and Saturday vs. the Boston Bruins, also at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). He said he'll make the call on tonight's game after consulting with Hartsburg and the team's training staff.

"Then we’ll see, with the back-to-back games, what the best course of action will be," he said. "Physically, I feel pretty good, but there’s another step from practice to games. We’ll see if I play tonight or (if not), probably definitely tomorrow, anyway.

"(The back-to-back games are) a little bit of a concern in the sense that I’m probably not as strong as I would be if I didn’t have surgery. But that’s why we skated it pretty hard, to see how (the knee) would react. I’m going to tell them how I feel and how I felt the last few days and we’ll make a decision (based) on that. I’ll probably know before I head out of here this afternoon what it will be."

Hartsburg said it's largely up to Alfredsson to say whether he's good to go.

"He’s close, very close (to returning)," said Hartsburg. "I think it’s about him making sure he’s comfortable and we’ll know tonight. I don’t think it’s 100 per cent in my mind one way or another but come game time tonight, we’ll know for sure.

"In my mind, after watching him skate, I don’t have a problem putting him in the lineup if he tells me he’s ready. But until he says that, I can’t tell you he’s playing for sure."

Even Alfredsson is surprised he might be back in the lineup after missing just one game, last Saturday's 3-2 home-ice loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

"It’s really encouraging," he said. "I didn’t know what to expect but I thought I might start skating on Thursday or Friday of this week. It’s gone really well, which is a lot of fun for me and it’s been fun practising with the guys. I’m going to try to get back in the game as quick as possible."

If Alfredsson doesn't play, Nick Foligno would likely take his spot on the Senators' No. 1 line alongside Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.

Martin Gerber makes his third start of the season in goal tonight. Fewer than 500 tickets remain available for the game.

It's Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night

The game against the Coyotes will also be the Senators' second annual Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night, with special one-of-a-kind autographed ties ($75), scarves ($50), hats ($35) and Reflections on a Hockey Season photo books ($50) being sold by Senators wives and girlfriends, along with team president/CEO Roy Mlakar and COO Cyril Leeder, at Gates 1 and 2 before the game. Mlakar, Leeder, general manager Bryan Murray and the team's coaching staff will wear lavender Hockey Fights Cancer ties during the game. Hockey Fights Cancer is joint charitable initiative founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association.




1 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
2 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
3 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
4 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
5 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
6 TOR 49 22 23 4 143 152 48
7 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
8 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31


B. Ryan 43 12 21 7 33
E. Karlsson 46 11 22 -5 33
K. Turris 46 9 20 -8 29
M. Stone 44 11 15 9 26
M. Hoffman 43 16 9 19 25
C. MacArthur 45 13 11 -7 24
M. Zibanejad 44 11 12 1 23
D. Legwand 45 7 12 -4 19
A. Chiasson 43 7 10 -8 17
M. Michalek 42 6 9 -7 15
C. Anderson 13 11 7 .927 2.37
R. Lehner 6 7 2 .900 3.16