Alfie showing Art form

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

The next scoring title Daniel Alfredsson wins will be the first one he's won in his entire life.

And at this rate, that'll come early in the spring of his 34th year.

The Senators captain continued a torrid offensive pace when he scored twice and added an assist in Thursday's 3-0 win over the Habs. The latest output gives him 11 points (five goals) in his current, six-game scoring streak plus moved him into second place in the Art Ross Trophy race.

Alfredsson now has 32 goals and 38 assists for 70 points, just two behind league leader Jaromir Jagr.

The Rangers superstar has played six more games than Alfredsson, who missed four earlier this month with a broken rib.

"It would be nice, but it's not something I think about every day," Alfredsson said of the title. "If we do well as a team, we're going to have individual success, too.

"You know who's at the top of the standing, who's around you," he added of a race that presently also has Ilya Kovalchuk (68 points), Dany Heatley (67), Joe Thornton (66), Eric Staal (65), Alexander Ovechkin (65) and Marc Savard (65) as its front-runners. "This is the first time I've had the chance to be close to the top like this."

While Alfredsson doesn't have clauses in his contract for reaching specific numbers, he does get bonuses for winning major trophies. And if he does capture the Art Ross, he might want to purchase coach Bryan Murray a little something to show his appreciation.

With 34 games still to play, Alfredsson is just 10 points shy of equaling his career high (80, 2003-04), five short of his best season in goals (37, 2001-02) and 13 assists from tying the most he ever had (51, 2002-03).

"If you look at the whole season, it hasn't been like in the past," said Alfredsson. "We scored quite a few goals when (previous coach) Jacques (Martin) was here, but then it was definitely more defence first. Now, we're more of a pressure team, and it suits my style. I've also have more responsibilities than I had under Jacques, and it has made me a better player.

"The biggest thing is getting to play with two good players," he added of linemates Jason Spezza and Heatley. "When we're going, we're going good."

Alfredsson is averaging 21:37 of ice time under Murray, who shifts him from wing to point on the power play and puts him out in penalty-killing situations, specifically as the lone forward in 3-on-5s.

Whether Alfredsson wins the Art Ross, Murray said his captain deserves serious consideration for the Hart Trophy.

"He's a terrific player," Murray said. "People talk about him as the MVP and I can't imagine anyone doing more for their team than Daniel is doing for ours. He does everything."

Alfredsson says such talk is flattering, but points out there is still lots of hockey to be played before trophies are won this season. Besides, he says, his first concern is for the Senators to get ready for the playoffs.

When a reporter turns the conversation back to individual accomplishments, Alfredsson is asked if he thinks he can finish as the NHL's top scorer in a season that features so many outstanding talents.

"I have a good chance," he said. "Why not?"

WHO'S THE BEST?: Mostly bragging rights will be on the line when the Senators SuperSkills competition goes off this afternoon (1 p.m.) at Scotiabank Place. Tickets are $10 at the door. "Team Redden is ready," claimed D Wade Redden, who leads a group against Team Alfredsson. While Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette are the favourites for the fastest skater title, Zdeno Chara is expected to be challenged by rookie Christoph Schubert for his hardest shot crown. Alfredsson thinks Chara could also challenge Vermette for the accurate shot competition. "If we hang four rib cages from the posts I think Zee could win," joked the captain, referring to the broken rib he suffered when hit by a shot from the big D-man.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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