Players applaud coach's new deal

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

It will be with mixed emotions that Daniel Alfredsson plays his last game at Scotiabank Place this season.

"It's very frustrating," the Senators captain said yesterday when asked about missing the playoffs for just the second time in his career, and first since he was a rookie in 1995-96. "Especially in a hockey city, where you know how much the crowd gets into it and how they enjoy the playoffs as much as we do. But at the same time it's been really refreshing to finish off like this, especially the way we've been playing at home. I think our fans really appreciate the way we've been playing, and they deserve to see the team that I thought that we had, and it should bring confidence for everybody going into next year."

The Senators, who set a franchise record with their ninth consecutive victory at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday, will try to make it 10 straight when they wrap up their home schedule tonight against the Devils.

Ottawa has also won 13 of its last 19 and is 19-10-3 under Cory Clouston, who was given a two-year contract extension yesterday.

"I think it's great," said goalie Alex Auld. "It's very well-deserved. He's come in here and brought a lot of energy and his passion for the game and it's rubbed off on us."

Mike Fisher said the players were excited by the news to sign Clouston.

"It's no secret he's been a big part of our turnaround," said Fisher. "He's done a great job."

Alfredsson admitted he had no idea what to expect from Clouston, who had only one full season of coaching at the pro level when he was brought in to take over from the fired Craig Hartsbrug Feb. 2.

REMEMBER WORK

"The system he's put in place has worked real well for the group we have," said Alfredsson. "It makes perfect sense to sign him up."

Clouston expects the Senators players to remember the work they're doing now to be successful when they show up for camp in September.

"There's a lot of optimism with the way the team is playing," he said. "The improvement of so many of our players, and not just the young guys, but some of our veteran players who had been told they were no longer that valuable to the team or to the league, that their skills had diminished, that they couldn't even pass the puck anymore. All of a sudden they can play.

"I know the last couple of games, we've been told we're winning with no pressure. I disagree. Because I'll guarantee you that if we lost the last few games, their character would have been called into play.

"Even though we're not in the playoffs, we feel we are a playoff team. We feel we belong there. And it's going to give us a lot of motivation over the summer, something to think about.

"When you can start talking about next fall already, I think we've got something pretty good."


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