Alfie finds his blades of feel

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and centre Chris Kelly are a perfect fit.

And, no, we're not just talking as linemates.

You see, it was Kelly who lent his high-scoring winger a pair of skates when Alfredsson was out last month with a hip injury and since he's returned to action, the captain has been skating circles around the completion.

While Alfredsson estimates he's worn "15-18" pairs of skates this season, he admits he hasn't been this comfortable since he was wandering around the dressing room, looked at Kelly's blades and decided to give them a try.

"I saw that they were the same size (as he wears) so I told him I was going to use them," said Alfredsson. "Being comfortable in your skates means a lot and it helps a lot."

Obviously, it has worked like a charm. Alfredsson isn't going to the NHL all-star game next week in Dallas, but judging by the way he's been performing lately, he deserves to be.

The Senators captain did earn some recognition yesterday after being named the NHL's first star of the week for his nine points (three goals, six assists) in three victories last week.

That's an impressive turnaround for a guy people wanted to run out of town when the Senators were struggling to keep their heads above water in early November with a record as low as four games under .500.

"People go through cycles and he probably wasn't as good at the beginning of the year as he is now. I think he's been outstanding," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "With the puck, without the puck and effort-wise. We've used him in the highlights (of video sessions) several times on the backcheck and puck pressure.

"The point we make is, 'If our captain is willing to do that, why wouldn't all of you be willing to do that?' The guys have really bought in. I think, in his way, he's been a very strong leader."

Alfredsson said he has more confidence in his game.

"I'm playing a lot better and it's turning into goals," said Alfredsson. "The whole team went through a tough stretch and I'm very happy with the way we've battled back and put ourselves in a good position."

NO TALKS: There haven't been any contract talks between the Senators and G Ray Emery even though the ban on holding discussions was lifted on Jan. 1. Making $975,000 US this season, Emery has emerged as the club's No. 1 goalie and will be a restricted free agent in the summer, but he's willing to listen if the club wants to discuss an extension. "Ray wanted the opportunity to challenge for the bigger role and that is why we opted for a one-year deal," Emery's agent, J.P. Barry, said from Calgary. "We are ready to discuss his future in Ottawa anytime. But he is content to wait and build on his excellent first half of this season and revisit the issue later. I'm sure when (GM) John (Muckler) is ready to discuss this, he will give us a call." Murray has no plans to take Emery out of the net anytime soon and give G Martin Gerber a start. "(Emery) has played well and put us in a position to continue the climb and, for now, I'm just going to go with him game-to-game," said Murray.

AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators Cs Mike Fisher (knee) and Mike Comrie (soreness) weren't on the ice yesterday. Murray said Comrie is fine and will be in the lineup tonight against the Caps ... Alfredsson on being named the first star of the week: "You see our record the last three weeks. That's why this is happening. When you're winning a lot of games, it comes with it."


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