BOSTON -- Daniel Alfredsson is back, Filip Kuba should return Monday afternoon, Milan Michalek is "very close" and Jason Spezza, in a surprising development yesterday, indicated he could be back in the lineup within a week.
But most importantly, the Senators once again have someone who can stop the puck. And until further notice, Mike Brodeur is their go-to ’tender.
“Whatever goaltender is going to get us the win right now, that’s who we’re going to go with,” said coach Cory Clouston. “Doesn’t matter if it’s your second-, third- or first-string, you need more than one goaltender, for the most part, to win in this league. Mike’s done a great job. What an opportunity he’s been presented, and he’s really taken that challenge.”
While Alfredsson returned Saturday from a shoulder separation to get a goal and two assists in a huge 4-2 win over Montreal, Clouston said Michalek had an intense skate in Ottawa and was progressing well from a concussion that has kept him out of the lineup for the last five games.
Kuba, who’s been out four games with an “upper body” injury, yesterday revealed its origin and explained why he had to pull himself from an expected return vs. the Habs.
“The hand is doing better every day. I think (today) will be the first game back, I think,” said the big defenceman. “Before practice, I thought it was good ... I can’t really feel what’s going on with it off the ice, but after the (Saturday morning skate) I knew it was not ready.”
The biggest difference-maker on the Senators’ shelf, however, is Spezza. He climbed down yesterday to skate for a half hour with assistant coaches Brad Lauer and Greg Carvel and, when that went well, he decided to stay on the ice for practice with his teammates.
While nobody is setting a date for his return, Clouston was optimistic it would be much earlier than expected.
“We were hoping for a couple of weeks before (the Olympics),” said Clouston, referring to the Games that begin Feb. 12. “I think we might be a week or two in advance of that, judging by what went on (Sunday).”
Spezza, recovering from a right knee injury, laughed off the suggestion he looked good enough to play Monday in the same rink that was the scene of his first NHL game. But the Senators are back in Boston next Saturday, and by then he could be good to go.
“(Yesterday) was kind of just a (day to) push it a little bit, see if it pushes back, or see how it feels,” he said. “I didn’t really plan on staying out there, but it felt pretty good, so I’d say it’s a positive.”
Like the play of Brodeur, who is now 3-0 and has stopped 84-of-87 shots in his combined callups. Alfredsson is impressed.
“He made a couple of unbelievable saves in the last 10 minutes (Saturday),” said Alfredsson. “He likes being in the heat, being in the position when something’s on the line. That’s great to see.”
Brodeur should love Monday’s opportunity, then. A victory over the Bruins would put the Senators into a tie for fifth in the conference with Boston.
“I think there are a lot of positives,” Clouston said when asked about the future. “You ask any other team to take out their first line, throw in a top penalty killer and a guy like Kuba at the back end, let’s see how they’re going to fare. When we get the goaltending, when we play the way we can, we’re a pretty tough team to beat.”