Hip, hip, hooray!

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- As long as Daniel Alfredsson returns to the lineup as expected this week, he'll travel to Atlanta for the all-star game Sunday.

The Senators captain wasn't strong enough to suit up last night against the Flyers at the Wachovia Center, but expects to play tomorrow against the Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.

Alfredsson isn't letting a hip flexor injury -- suffered last Thursday vs. Carolina -- scuttle his plans to represent the Eastern Conference.

"If I'm playing, I assume I'm going to be playing (in the all-star game) and (I'll) be healthy, so it is not an issue. I haven't even thought about it."

Paddock, who will be behind the East bench, isn't discouraging Alfredsson from playing in the all-star game.

"That would be entirely up to him, but I don't think it's a strenuous (game) and I don't think it's going to aggravate any injury," said Paddock. "He wouldn't play, if it would. I trust (Alfredsson) to make the right decision."

Alfredsson was on the ice for the first time yesterday since suffering the injury. While his strength wasn't where it needed to be, Alfredsson's not worried.

"I skated 10-15 minutes and I felt okay, but it was not what I expected," said Alfredsson. "I could maybe go 60-to-70%, no problem. That last little push is not there. (Tomorrow) I think I'll be ready. If I feel good, I'm not going to wait one more day to play. If I feel good, I will play. It's just not where I want it to be to play a game."

OFF THE GLASS: The Sun has learned the Senators could announce a change to their scouting staff this week after wrapping up meetings with their bird dogs in Florida last week. The talk in NHL circles is the club and amateur scouting director Frank Jay have agreed to part ways. The 56-year-old Jay, whose best picks were D Andrej Meszaros and RW Patrick Eaves, has spent nine seasons with the Senators. It's expected assistant GM Tim Murray, a respected scout with 15 years of experience, will take over Jay's duties. The June entry draft will be held in Ottawa ... The Flyers are considered frontrunners to sign unrestricted free-agent C Peter Forsberg, who expects to decide where he'll play before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators GM Bryan Murray has had only brief discussions with Wade Redden's agent, Don Meehan, about the veteran blueliner's status as an unrestricted free agent next season. Meehan and Murray talked about Redden's future during the world junior championships in the Czech Republic, but no specifics were discussed. Redden said on the weekend he won't waive his "no movement" clause, but doesn't "expect to be asked (to do it) either" with the club making a run for the Stanley Cup. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Sun Friday he'd leave any decision on Redden up to Murray. "When it comes to the hockey operations, I hire the best people for the job. They get paid to make the tough decisions." An NHL executive said he believes Redden, who is making $6.5 million (all terms US) this season, would get less -- $6 million a season -- on the market ... Speaking of Melnyk, the Senators left Philly late last night and will spend today at the owner's 4.5-km horse farm in Ocala, Fla., before continuing on to Fort Lauderdale this afternoon. Melnyk, whose horse breeding operations boast more than 200 thoroughbreds, has made the day at the Winding Oaks Farm an annual event for the players and Senators' staff.

ON THE POWER PLAY: Watch for RW Dany Heatley to return to the lineup sooner than expected. Indications were Heatley would be out 4-6 weeks after separating his shoulder Jan. 12 vs. Detroit. But the sniper accompanied the Senators on this road trip and has been skating on his own, less than a week after getting hurt. The Senators aren't going to rush Heatley, who won't be able to play in the all-star game, back into the lineup ... C Jason Spezza is no fan of the trend toward defensive hockey. He called the 2-0 loss to the Bolts Saturday "the new age of hockey" because even Tampa Bay is playing the trap. "Nobody wants to give up points and nobody wants to get scored on," said Spezza. "I guess that's the way it's going to be now, where teams just sit back. We've got a lot of offensive guys, but it's going to be a lot tougher. Special teams just become more important." Spezza said coaches want tight hockey. "They see how tight the standings are and everybody is still in it and that's why there's going to be no trades."


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