Alfie searching for 30% solution

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Y'know, a wallet or tie or new pair of socks would probably be nice, too, but all Daniel Alfredsson really wants for his birthday is another 30%.

And that ain't coming for another few days yet.

The Senators captain, who turned 34 this morning, is not currently able to return from a hip injury, nor can he pinpoint for sure when he will be ready.

Alfredsson took part in yesterday's morning skate, but spent much of the time twirling around the slippery surface on his own, testing the damaged muscle.

HOPES TO PLAY ON TRIP

"It's not bad, I can skate at 70% without a problem," he said afterward. "I haven't tried starts or stops or sprinting or anything, but it's just nice to be out there."

Alfredsson could only say "I hope so" when asked if he would be able to play on the current Senators' road trip, which has four stops and ends Saturday in Buffalo.

"There's a possibility he could play by the end of the week," said coach Bryan Murray, who points at Alfredsson's ability to bounce back from a rib injury after just four games last season as an example of the Swede's toughness. "It's day-to-day, and it'll be his call."

Another 30% and he's there. Or, in Alfredsson's case, maybe 15% will be enough.

STARTS AND STOPS: Sometimes, a guy can be too Canadian for his own good. When a couple of Ottawa-Gatineau sportswriters were sitting at a Columbus bar alongside a pair of local beauties Saturday night, it was the girls who started the conversation. "Hey, what about that Heisman huh?" the particularly stunning blonde said to Cheapseats, who suddenly found himself in a Cliff Claven-like state of dizziness. "Um, ahh ... what ABOUT that Heisman?" came the smoothest of replies. "Troy Smith won it? Tonight? That's why we're celebrating," said the babe. "Oh, that's right!" clued in yours truly, remembering his co-ordinates. "That Ohio State running back!" Ever feel as though you're being looked at like you have two heads? "Uh, no, he's a quarterback," said the young woman. "Where are you guys from?" Hockey Country, I said just before our new friends got up and walked out of our lives forever. If only they would have asked about that Fredrik Norrena shutout streak last week instead.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Flavour of the week in Fantasy Land could be Dean McAmmond, who replaced Chris Kelly last night as the left winger for Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley ... As an analyst, The Team 1200's Garry Galley has a fan in Ken Hitchcock. "He gets to the point, he tells people what's going on," Hitch said after catching Galley's act on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. "And he's not using a dictionary. It's hockey you can understand." ... D Joe Corvo yesterday removed the protective visor he's worn since being hit above the eye with a puck. "It's healing up," he said, admitting the shield was bothering him "a bit."

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: You did know that Norrena, the BJ's rookie 'tender, posted consecutive goose eggs last week as his team went a franchise-record 166 minutes and six seconds without giving up a goal, right? Or were you busy reading all the pre-Heisman hype? ... Senators W Brian McGrattan received two minutes for "clipping" along with his fighting major in a first-period tilt with Jody Shelley. The "clip" sure looked like a hip check to us. Wonder if the refs spent the afternoon down the road at the Bengals-Raiders game? ... In downtown Columbus, the natives are concerned about your safety. "You have 13 seconds to cross once it starts flashing," an outdoorsie-looking gentlemen told us as we started walking through an intersection at the lights. Still wondering how he knows this, exactly.

DOWN LOW: Hitchcock received some advice from his former GM in Philadelphia, Bobby Clarke, before accepting the coaching job in Columbus. "Clarkie said, if you like the older group (of players) and you think the leadership is there, you better have the energy to do it," Hitchcock told Ottawa reporters yesterday. "He said, 'If you don't have the energy, you're going to get swamped." ... Under Hitchcock, the re-energized Jackets were 4-3 and riding a three-game winning streak into last night's meeting with the Senators. Watch for them to be a much better team in the final four months of the season than they were in the first two ... Hitchcock is still living in the same downtown hotel the Senators were at while visiting Columbus. That's okay, but it's high time he had his equipment manager remove or replace the Flyers logo he has on his suit bag.


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