Alfie's focus turns to NHL playoff run

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

Being back with his Senators teammates helped ease the pain for captain Daniel Alfredsson Sunday.

Hours before the U.S. and Canada battled for Olympic hockey gold, Alfredsson, who helped Sweden top the podium in 2006 and played for his country again in Vancouver, was back at practice at Scotiabank Place.

Sweden couldn’t repeat its gold-medal feat from ’06, suffering a heartbreaking loss to Slovakia in the quarter-final.

At 37, Alfredsson knows his final shot at Olympic glory has passed.

“It was the last chance for me,” the all-star forward said. “I’m not going to go to another Olympics. I would have liked to have made it to the medal rounds. We just couldn’t get it together offensively to get the lead against the Slovaks or enough goals.”

Alfredsson said his early Olympic exit will take a while to get over.

“The first two days weren’t too bad. Then, it kind of sunk in,” said Alfredsson. “It’s very frustrating. Obviously, we didn’t come close to playing to the potential that we had. That’s the way it goes in a short tournament like that. When you get to the quarterfinals, you need to play your best game and we didn’t do that.”

Still, he left Vancouver with many fond memories.

“All in all, it’s always a great experience to be there. It was a tough ending, but I’m proud to be part of the whole experience and the Olympics, which is quite unique.”

Alfredsson said it was easy to return to the ice because the Senators’ playoff prospects are bright.

“It’s a good situation here. I’m happy to be back. I don’t have to sit on this for too long,” he said. “It’s another focus now. It’s a good one and a fun one. I’m looking forward to the last 19 (regular-season) games and going into the playoffs, which will be a lot of fun.”

The captain said Ottawa’s goal is clear: Win the Northeast Division and maintain a top seed in the Eastern Conference.

“That will secure home ice in the playoffs,” said Alfredsson. “We just have to stay on course and try to finish strong. We want to go into the playoffs on a positive note.”

Off the glass

LW Nick Foligno went for a short skate before practice Sunday for the first time since breaking his leg Jan. 30 against the Montreal Canadiens. Foligno was on the ice for about 10 minutes and hopes to resume practising in a couple of weeks. “I took a twirl and it was nice,” said Foligno. “It didn’t feel too bad. It’s obviously a little ways away.” Foligno said he is on schedule to return in mid-March ... Goalie coach John Stevenson ran a unique drill at the end of practice. Pascal Leclaire faced shots from the slot that players fired from a low angle under a curtain. “It’s just to work on screen shots and making the goalies react,” said GM Bryan Murray. RW Alex Kovalev made everybody laugh. He dropped two pucks, fired them both at the same time and didn’t give Leclaire a chance to make the stop ... G Brian Elliott wasn’t happy when he took a shot off the mask. He slammed his stick and stood in the corner for a while before going back between the pipes.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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