Daniel Alfredsson is ready to roll. But now it's centre Mike Fisher who is on the shelf.
The Senators captain, troubled by a sore groin that kept him out of the first two exhibition games, was back on the ice yesterday and will be in the lineup tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.
While coach Craig Hartsburg insisted it's nothing serious, Fisher, who left practice early with a sore groin, won't be in the lineup.
Alfredsson will skate with Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette tonight.
"You take it step-by-step. You start by skating on your own, you skate with the team and then you try it out in an exhibition game," said Alfredsson yesterday. "It's a little bit faster in the game and there's a little bit more battling in the corners. I'm looking forward to it."
Alfredsson said there was no sense taking a chance.
"We skated so much the first three days, I could have played (Saturday). I didn't want to go back and say 'I pulled my groin because I needed to play in an exhibition game.' I feel fine now and I'm ready to go," said Alfredsson.
Rookie Jesse Winchester will remain on the right side of Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.
Hartsburg said getting Alfredsson back will help the club prepare for the team's season-opener Oct. 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Sweden.
"It's good when your captain is around the team and playing," said Hartsburg. "We're getting to the point now where we've got to put our lines together with next week in mind."
Senators G Martin Gerber discarded his all-black mask yesterday for a different, upscale painted version which has his nickname "Gerbs" on the back. He hasn't decided whether he'll wear the mask, which has a Darth Vader-like design with the Senators logo on the side, during the regular season. While he has worn it for two days, Gerber, who discussed the "Darth Gerber" theme with a member of the club's equipment staff in the off-season, told a team spokesman that he didn't want to discuss the new design with the media yesterday. Instead, he has decided to wait until after today's morning skate to speak with everybody. Gerber said in the off-season he wore the black mask last season because it was "comfortable" and he got to the point where he didn't want to make a change. Gerber will make the start tonight against the Flyers and is scheduled to play the whole game. "We don't have seven or eight (exhibition games) for him to play half (games), so we'll start playing him 60 minutes," said Hartsburg.
TURNING UP THE HEAT
The Senators will trim their 37-man roster today and both GM Bryan Murray and Hartsburg sent a warning, telling players to step it up. With only three exhibition games remaining and the club leaving for Sweden Sunday night, there are going to be a lot of decisions made in the next three days. "The players that really want to be important on the team have to compete at a high level," said Murray. "There are a couple of guys that were with the team either last year or part of last year, that I'd like to see a little more from in the compete area." Hartsburg wasn't happy with the effort for two periods in the 2-1 loss to the Rangers Monday. "In the next day or so, there will be some moves," said Hartsburg. "At this point, we're still evaluating. It's only two games and that's not fair to some players, but that's the situation that we're in and we have to make some decisions." Hartsburg said the players are working hard, but not smart. "When you're caught on the wrong side of the puck, I think you end up chasing a lot and what happens then is there's not a lot of battles and you don't finish enough checks," said the coach. "I don't have any problem with how hard we worked, we've just got to do the little things right."