Captain Alfredsson 'a man on a mission'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:58 PM ET

Daniel Alfredsson has bad news for opponents in the Eastern Conference.

He thinks he can be better.

"I'm not quite happy with where everything is at right now," said Alfredsson yesterday.

"I'm still working on a few things and I'm not completely happy with where my shot is at."

That's not what it looks like to most people.

"He looks to me like he's a man on a mission," said Senators GM John Muckler while watching practice yesterday. "(Alfredsson) has taken his game to another level. He looks like he realizes there's not going to be many chances."

Going into tonight's game against the Islanders, the Senators captain is having a standout season with 12 goals and 23 points in 12 games. If this continues, he could break the 50-goal mark.

But Alfredsson is just trying to keep his goals simple: Play hard, get the job done and show everybody what it takes to have success.

"I didn't come into this season and say I want to get this many goals and this many assists," said Alfredsson. "I don't think about stuff like that. I just try to play the best I can and keep everything going.

"What I'm trying to do is push myself and make myself better and that will help the team to be better. This has been fun. I'm feeling good and we've got a lot of strong players on this team. I want to help this team to have success."

Coach Bryan Murray has been impressed with what he's seen and admits he's "a little surprised" with the way Alfredsson has played this season.

"He's taken on a huge responsibility and he's been very intense," said Murray. "I don't know if he's a vocal guy in the room because I don't spend a lot of time in there, but in our meetings he's never shy about anything.

"He's definitely been exceptional. I think he is a guy who the other guys look up to. He works hard every shift and he leads by example.

"As a captain, I see him as a guy who goes out every night and gives everything he's got. That's the kind of guy you want to have in that role."

KILLING PENALTIES

Alfredsson said he has appreciated the chance to play an expanded role -- including killing penalties during 5-on-3 situations -- and the opportunity to line up beside young guys like Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.

"I try to do the same thing every night," said Alfredsson. "I don't go out there (every night) thinking that I can score 50. Playing with Heatley and Spezza has been a lot of fun.

"They're both young, they bring a lot of enthusiasm to the game and I think that has helped me ... especially being the older guy on the line. You want to make sure you play well when you're those guys."

The goal for Alfredsson is to win a Stanley Cup with the Senators. That's why he signed a five-year, $32.5-million US deal that includes three option years rather than test the free-agent market in the summer of 2004.

But he's not going to be making any bold predictions about this season.

"We haven't had a tough schedule at all this month and we've been able to take advantage of that. We have to make sure we do that because it's only going to get tougher for us," said Alfredsson.

"We're going to have a lot of players going to the Olympics and that might not necessarily be a good thing with the schedule we've got when we get back. Maybe, if we can build up some points here, we might be able to get some guys some rest down the stretch for the playoffs.

"You want to be ready for the playoffs. That's the most important time of year."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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