Alfie's showing Hart

Ottawa Senator Captain Daniel Alfredsson.  (SUN/Tony Caldwell)

Ottawa Senator Captain Daniel Alfredsson. (SUN/Tony Caldwell)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:07 PM ET

Like any good captain, Daniel Alfredsson has been the heart and soul of the Senators this season.

Not to mention the NHL's leading scorer.

Add it all up, and you've got the makings of a serious Hart Trophy candidate.

Yes, it's early -- the Senators haven't yet hit the 20-game mark -- but if coach Bryan Murray is already beating the drums for his captain as the league's MVP.

During his daily session with the media yesterday, Murray didn't mince his words when the subject of Alfredsson's performance was brought up.

"I would think if you look at the kind of season that he has had so far, he has to be a leading candidate," said Murray when asked by the Sun if Alfredsson is having a Hart Trophy-type season.

"He's been great and he's been a great definition of (the leadership) you need to have. The way he's playing, he's making a difference in the game. He's just been excellent for us. He's shown great leadership."

Alfredsson started the season playing on the so-called third line with Mike Fisher, but was moved to the top spot once the Brandon Bochenski experiment faltered.

Now playing with hot young guns Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, Alfredsson has been on fire himself. Heading into tonight's game with the New Jersey Devils at the Corel Centre (7 p.m., CBC), Alfredsson has racked up 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 10 games since Oct. 27.

Not only that, as well as he's played offensively, Alfredsson has also contributed defensively. He's not only working on the power play, he's killing penalties and hasn't had any shortage of creating scoring chances.

Simply put, he's been the Senators' go-to-guy.

"You want to have success," said Alfredsson, 32, in his 10th season with the Senators. "I don't think about that stuff with the individual awards and honours. You just try to go out there and do your best every night to help the team win.

"It's fun when you win. The atmosphere around here has been great. I don't go into any season with any kind of expectations as far as numbers go. The one thing you have to do is try to make sure that you play better.

"That's what I'm trying to do."

SPARKS COMEBACK

The Senators' 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers Thursday was a perfect example of Alfredsson's contributions. He scored twice on the power play just when the Senators were struggling offensively.

Alfredsson went into last night's play leading the league in scoring with 34 points, and tied for the NHL goal-scoring lead with Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers (18).

Even his teammates are saying Alfredsson deserves a shot at the Hart. Although, there's similar argument being made for Philly's Peter Forsberg, Toronto's Bryan McCabe and Jagr.

"I would think a guy like Alfie has to be a candidate," said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips. "There's no question that there have been a lot of nights where this guy has been the difference for us.

"You look at the contribution he makes for us and he's such a special player. You look at Daniel Alfredsson and he's been our captain in every sense of the word. He definitely leads by example."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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