'Tis season to be travelling

CHRIS STEVENSON, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 2:37 PM ET

They won't be putting on as many miles as say, Santa Claus, this month, but the Senators will be seeing their share of the road before Christmas.

They are going to be doing it without star defenceman Wade Redden and probably without captain Daniel Alfredsson.

The condition of both has been updated and the news is better in the case of Alfredsson's sore hip than it is for Redden's bad chest.

"It's a strained muscle in the hip and I don't think it's that bad," Alfredsson said yesterday. ''It's getting better each day. I'm encouraged.

''It's not as bad as I thought it would be.''

OUT FOR RANGERS

Alfredsson will miss this afternoon's meeting with the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place, but could hit the road with the team tomorrow for a week-long trip to Columbus, Detroit, Nashville and Buffalo.

That means he could play during the road trip as the Senators try and get a grip on a playoff spot in the tight Eastern Conference.

Alfredsson, who hurt his hip against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, is listed as day-to-day after tests and consultations Thursday.

The Senators called up Rockland native Serge Payer from the Binghamton Senators of the AHL for today's game.

The news isn't as good in Redden's case.

The veteran defenceman is still experiencing pain and discomfort in his chest and right shoulder from a hit during the game against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 30, and is out indefinitely, said coach Bryan Murray.

"It's a week now from the day it happened and they're happy with where it is today," said Redden, who went for a skate yesterday but still can't shoot the puck.

The Senators will miss Alfredsson going into this string of games starting against the Rangers, who are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

"This is a real tough stretch without a doubt," said Murray, whose club, after today, plays five of their remaining seven games before Christmas on the road.

"Now we have a club like the Rangers coming in and then we go out for four against four very good hockey clubs. I include Columbus (tomorrow) because it appears they have some things going for them now. I've seen in the last couple of games they are playing much more disciplined. With a new coach (Ken Hitchcock), it happens very often he's got them working hard and they're all paying attention because they want to be on the hockey team.

"Then we all know what happens after that. Detroit, Nashville and Buffalo are top-end teams in this league. We're going to have to play our very best to compete with them, no question."

Alfredsson had seemed to find some chemistry on a line with Peter Schaefer and Antoine Vermette, who was shifted to centre three weeks ago.

The lines heading into today's game against the Rangers look like this: Peter Schaefer with Vermette and Patrick Eaves; Dany Heatley with Jason Spezza and Chris Kelly; Denis Hamel with Mike Fisher and Chris Neil, and Payer with Dean McAmmond and Brian McGrattan.

"(Alfredsson)'s effort is pretty genuine every night,'' said Murray. ''He's a guy who takes the puck and does an awful lot with it over the course of a game.

GOOD LINE

''You just lose him in every area. You lose him in power play, you lose him in penalty killing, you lose him on a line that has become a good line for us.

"Like all good players in this league, they play so important roles you build your team around certain people and when they're not there, you come up short."


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