Captain loses rank

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

After a night bailing out the sinking ship, the captain will be back swabbing the decks on the third line tomorrow night.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was back skating with centre Mike Fisher and winger Chris Neil at practice yesterday, just 12 hours after moving to the first line and sparking the Senators' opening night, come-from-behind, shootout win over the Leafs.

Rookie Brandon Bochenski, who surrendered his spot to Alfredsson in the third period, will be back with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley for the regular-season opener at the Corel Centre against the Sabres.

Senators coach Bryan Murray wasn't taking much credit for the shift of Alfredsson which led to victory.

"All I did was identify the line wasn't going the way it had been going and I gave Alfie the chance to move up there," said Murray. "He performed and they performed."

Alfredsson had two goals, the second of which tied the game 2-2 with 62 seconds left in regulation time. Alfredsson also scored what turned out to be the winner in the history-making, first-ever shootout.

CONSUMMATE PRO

Alfredsson, the consummate pro, takes whatever he's given.

"I have a lot of fun when the team wins and whatever I can contribute, I will," Alfredsson said yesterday. "Whatever role the coach wants you to play, you do the best you can. If you're scoring 60 goals and your team's not making the playoffs, it's not a lot of fun."

Murray knows he could stack the first line and keep Alfredsson there, but the coach also knows using Alfredsson on another line gives the Senators more balance.

It's not an insult to Alfredsson that he's not on the "first" line; it's the ultimate compliment.

"I've tried to put him in positions to help other people and make another line for us," Murray said of his captain. "No question, if I took Brandon out, Alfie would produce much more on the top line, but I can't afford to do that at the moment."

The Senators need to know what Bochenski can do and he earned the chance with his six-goal performance in the pre-season.

"I want Brandon to have that opportunity to succeed as a rookie in the league and I think he will," said Murray. "He's going to get a chance to do it before we make any firm judgment.

"Does he become a third-line specialist, a power-play guy? I'm not sure. Right now, Alfie is good enough to make up another line."

But Alfredsson also needs some help. Murray was blunt yesterday. After a fast start in camp, Fisher needs to elevate his game and give Alfredsson someone off which to play.

"I hope Fisher gets back to level he was at the first week of training camp," said Murray. "He has to skate. He has to play with some confidence out there."


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