Alfie keeping his spirits up

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Plodding along at a pace that will see him with eight or nine goals by season's end, a befuddled Daniel Alfredsson might want to stomp and spit on the month of October when he rips the page from his kitchen calendar today.

For all the personal frustration and anguish he has felt, however, the Senators captain has not only controlled such emotions around the dressing room, but actually been positive, upbeat and downright chipper. When others would brood, Alfredsson's attitude has been nothing short of impeccable.

After yesterday's morning skate, Chris Neil teased a reporter about only chatting with the "goal scorers." The scribe insisted such was not the case, that he still prefers smaller scrums and spending time bugging the lesser lights.

"That's why he's talking to me," smiled Alfredsson.

As he mulled over which stick he would take into last night's game against the Habs -- and explained how much of a difference an inch in length can make -- Alfredsson made sure his audience also understood that his good spirits were not to be misinterpreted as a sign he did not take seriously the disappointing start that saw him score just one goal in the team's first 10 games.

"The big thing for me is to lead by example," he said. "If I'm not putting the puck in the net, it's my own struggle. I'm not going to drag everybody down with me."

He shot down a theory put forth by coach Bryan Murray, who suggested Alfredsson wasn't scoring because his most recent linemates (Dean McAmmond and Chris Kelly) aren't exactly known for their creative playmaking. "I should be creating more chances on my own," said Alfredsson.

He also scoffed at talk that his "passion level" isn't where it should be, or that, a little more than a month from his 34th birthday, he has lost a step or two.

"I feel good," said Alfredsson. "I feel great.

"I just have to work hard in practice and keep doing all the little things right. I'm sure it will come."

STARTS AND STOPS: From 1:22 of the third period in Boston Saturday to 56 seconds of the middle period last night, the Senators' 5-on-3 power play somehow managed to get worse. And that's with a whole lot of preaching by Murray in between ... Sure were a lot of Hallo-weenies in the crowd at the Bell Centre last night ... Best chance of the night that was muffed: Habs Tomas Plekanec fired a shot clear past a wide open net following an early second period 2-on-1 with Mike Johnson. By rights, the Sens should have been trailing 3-0 heading into the third.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: Better than Ottawa's is the pre-opening faceoff show here -- with Kiefer Sutherland of 24 fame on the screen welcoming you en francais to the continuation of the Habs' quest for a 25th Cup, a solid selection of tunes and full-ice videos ... Just accept it -- there will always be some bad with the good that is the creative Jason Spezza. On one first-period shift alone, he made a sweet backhand pass to the point, then coughed up the puck in the neutral zone for a Montreal chance. In the second, a Spezza turnover was enjoyed by Chris Higgins, who altered the doughnut on the scoreboard with the game's first goal.

BETWEEN PERIODS: A gentleman sitting on a step outside Dunn's after the morning skate held out a white styrofoam cup as we passed. "Trick or treat," he said. "Good one," replied Cheapseats. "Nice suit," the dude told me. "You look better than Don Cherry." To which there could only be one response. "Who the hell is Don Cherry?" ... Never before yesterday had I been shopping with a man who was looking for "pyjamas." But then, Le Droit hockey writer Sylvain St-Laurent isn't called "Sleepy" for nothing.

FROM THE RAFTERS: Of Alfredsson's ice time (16:33) through two periods, 7:51 was with the Senators on a power play. Clearly, Murray really wants him to get that first one so a dozen will quickly follow ... Also out for more than seven minutes of man-advantage time through 40 was Andrej Meszaros, though we're not sure why. He was off the mark to that point, with four "missed shots" to his credit against just one that found the target ... Do not wonder when Alexei Kaigorodov will be shipped to Binghamton (or Russia, as the case may be). Wonder why it hasn't happened yet. Wouldn't, say, a Serge Payer have helped the Senators more to this point?


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