Alfie: No clause for concern

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson could have written his own ticket out of Ottawa this summer, but he's quite happy to stay.

Under terms of his old contract, Alfredsson's 70-70 clause would have kicked in. His 71 points (23 goals, 48 assists) in 70 games would have allowed the 36-year-old to become eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1.

Instead, Alfredsson signed a four-year, $21.6-million US extension last October -- a deal that will allow him to play his entire career with Ottawa.

Five months later, he has no regrets.

"Being in Ottawa has been a great fit," said Alfredsson. "I don't think myself or the team wanted anything different. We have really turned things around and we hope that we can finish off really strong.

"The odds aren't good for us to make the playoffs, but we're giving ourselves a chance and that's more than we could have hoped for a few months ago."

WATCH IT!

Forgive the Senators if they keep an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard tonight.

To make the playoffs, they'll need help from the Sabres and Panthers -- who face each other in Buffalo -- and the idle Canadiens.

Still, the Senators will try to stay focused on their game.

"I think I can speak for most guys when I say that we're just worried about what we're doing," said defenceman Brendan Bell. "We were so far out of it and we were such a longshot two or three weeks ago that (what other teams did) didn't matter.

"We just decided to focus on our game and that status quo is going to remain. Right now, we're just having a lot of fun ... There's not a lot of pressure on us."

The Senators can't afford to do too much scoreboard watching.

"We're just going to keep approaching it the way we've been approaching it and just try to keep winning games," said centre Jason Spezza. "We're playing better hockey right now. We've just got to keep it up. It isn't that hard for us. You always prepare for the game ahead of you."

OFF THE GLASS

D Anton Volchenkov, who missed Sunday's game against the Rangers with what coach Cory Clouston described as bumps and bruises, will return to the lineup. Volchenkov wasn't on the ice before the two-hour flight to Raleigh, but Clouston said the defencman would be fine ... D Jason Smith, who suffered a knee injury March 7 that was supposed to keep him out at least two weeks, hasn't resumed skating and didn't make the trip. He is likely finished for the season ... Backup G Alex Auld could make his second straight start. Auld made 28 saves in the 2-1 victory over the Rangers Sunday night. He also stopped 41 shots in a 4-2 victory over the Hurricanes Feb. 24. Of course, Brian Elliott is on an eight-game winning streak. "We feel confident in both our goaltenders," said Clouston, who will name his starter today. "It doesn't matter who goes in the net. We feel that we have an opportunity to win every night." ... Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice likes what he's seen lately from the Senators. "They are the hottest team in the league ... they have a belief now that they can win," said Maurice. "I don't think anybody ever looked at that team and said they weren't talented enough to be in the playoffs. And, their best players are playing very, very well. When that happens, you have a chance to win. Can they go on a roll to make the playoffs? What, have they got 74 points with 10 games left? That would be 94 points (potentially). They aren't far off that pace right now."


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