Alfie, Sens go hand-in-hand

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is getting better with age.

At a time of the season when some 36-year-old players are struggling down the stretch, Alfredsson has been leading the charge on and off the ice as the Senators make one last desperate drive for the playoffs.

As the Senators prepare to continue their six-game road trip tomorrow night against the Hurricanes at the RBC Center, Alfredsson has five goals and nine assists points in last nine games and it's no accident the club has won eight in that stretch.

"For sure, I've felt really good lately. As the team goes, so do some individuals go and vice-versa," Alfredsson said following the club's 2-1 victory over the Rangers on Sunday. "A lot of players are playing well for us. Perfect example was (Sunday). (Mike) Comrie, third line, and (Ryan) Shannon, second line, scored for us. That's the difference."

Coach Cory Clouston said Alfredsson is having fun.

"You'd have to ask him, but I think he's enjoying coming to the rink and he believes in his team," said Clouston. "He likes how we're trying to play the game and I think he believes that's how you have to play to have success. You combine all that, and in practice he works hard, and you just can't ask anything more from him.

"You'd have to ask him how he physically feels, but it looks like he's feeling pretty good."

When Clouston was coaching Binghamton in AHL earlier this season, he occasionally got the chance to see Alfredsson play and was impressed.

"He's playing as well as I've seen him in a long time," said Clouston. "I (had) only observed him on TV and it's not nearly the same, but (subtleties) in his game are what separates him from other players. He's skilled. The little things that he does: The position that he puts his body in, the reads he makes, just the little chips and just everything he does sometimes goes unnoticed.

"Then, you wonder why he's so successful. That's why: He's such a smart hockey player."

On the list

Team Canada management sat down with executive director Steve Yzerman yesterday in Calgary to discuss the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but discussions about this spring's world championship were also expected to be on the menu. It's believed Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong is looking at four players on the Senators' roster as possibilities if Ottawa misses the post-season. Sources say Canada would likely look at W Dany Heatley, C Jason Spezza, C Mike Fisher and D Chris Phillips for the championship, which will take place in Switzerland in late April. All four Senators would likely welcome the chance to go unless they're nursing injuries. Team Canada is careful about extending invitations before teams are eliminated. In fact, Canadian officials have discussed the possibility of a coaching staff, but haven't approached anybody because of the tight playoff races in the NHL. A coach who will get consideration for the Canadian staff is former Senators coach Craig Hartsburg. He has won two gold medals with the world junior team in the past and Hockey Canada often likes to bring aboard people who have worked for it in the past. Fired coaches Tom Renney (Rangers) and Guy Carbonneau (Canadiens) could get consideration.

Off the glass

Clouston was pleased to see Shannon score the winner against New York. "Since (Shannon's) been called up, he's added another element to our game. He's added some depth up front for offence because he's quick, he has the speed, and he's a smart player. He can play both ends of the ice," said Clouston. "Any time that you can score a goal in the NHL, it's nice. Obviously, it's a bonus that it's a game winner. It was a very big goal for us." ... D Anton Volchenkov, who was a late scratch against the Rangers, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.


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