Daniel Alfredsson still has his eyes on the prize.
With his four-year contract extension kicking in this season, the 36-year-old realizes time is running out to win a Stanley Cup.
“Obviously, I can see the end coming because I’m not going to sign another contract after this one,” Alfredsson said yesterday. “I’m trying to get this team in the right direction again and, hopefully, finish off with some really good years and being back in the playoffs and fighting for the Stanley Cup.”
Since losing in the Cup final to the Ducks in 2007, the Senators haven’t won a playoff game.
They were swept in 2008 by the Penguins and last season they missed the post-season for the first time in 12 seasons.
Senators coach Cory Clouston says Alfredsson, who has been skating on a line with Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza during training camp, looks as good as ever.
“He’s got a smile on his face, he’s practising well,” said Clouston. “And you’re only as old as your body is and I think he’s in as good of shape as he has been in a long time.”
Now or never
Clouston is trying to play down the importance of the battle for jobs as the Senators prepare to face the Bruins tonight at Scotiabank Place in their final exhibition game. The Senators have 26 players in camp after G Mike Brodeur was sent to the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton yesterday, which means four more players are likely going to be sent packing before the season opens. While F Jesse Winchester is out for three weeks with a knee injury, the Senators only want to keep 21 healthy bodies on the roster with the $56.7-million US salary cap in place. “This is just another step in the evaluation process,” said Clouston. “There’s always kind of a two-fold objective for games like this: You are obviously trying to get some chemistry and execution along with evaluating players. I don’t want to say it’s do-or-die because it’s not. This game is not going to make or break a player, whether he’s a veteran or a first-year player. You have to be cognizant of the big picture and you can’t just put all the pressure on one game.”
Off the glass
G Pascal Leclaire will play the entire game tonight. “I’m very happy with him. Physically he’s where we need him to be and mentally he’s very close,” said Clouston. “We’ll give him this one more game and he should be really sharp. He’s got an ability to have a calming presence, he’s got a great personality for the position that he plays. He’s a little bit looser than other goalies and he’s a little bit quirky at times, but I think he’s really good for the dressing room.” ... The Senators won’t have D Filip Kuba against the Bruins. He’s out with a lower-body injury. “It’s precautionary more than anything,” said Clouston. Kuba is expected to return to practice Monday and should be in the lineup for the season opener against the Rangers on Oct. 3 ... Clouston plans to name a replacement for alternate captain Dany Heatley next week. Cs Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher are considered top candidates. They’ve both worn the ‘A’ at times during the exhibition games. “It doesn’t matter whether you have a letter or not. You have to work hard, you have to be a leader,” said Clouston. “I’ll guarantee you if you went around that room, just about every one of those players at one particular time during their career have worn a letter, maybe in junior, maybe in the (AHL).”