Alfie zeroes in on 1,000 games

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

This could be a season of milestones for Daniel Alfredsson.

While it didn’t seem possible after the captain suffered a shoulder injury Dec. 23 against Pittsburgh, Alfredsson has a chance to not only play his 1,000th NHL game this season, he could also hit the 1,000-point mark if he continues to score at his recent torrid pace.

The 37-year-old has 369 goals and 592 assists for 961 points in 974 NHL games. He needs to average more than a point a game in the final 29 games to reach 1,000 this season, but the way he’s playing lately, that benchmark might not be out of reach. Alfredsson has five goals and four assists in five games since returning from his injury.

As long as Alfredsson can stay healthy, he’ll hit the 1,000-game mark on April 2 against the New York Islanders in Uniondale. The other milestone is going to be more difficult to reach, but the captain has returned with a vengeance.

Alfredsson will resume his quests for 1,000 Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils at Scotiabank Place.

“He’s come back refreshed more than anything,” said Senators winger Nick Foligno after Alfredsson scored his 14th goal of the season Saturday.

“When injuries get nagging you, they start to bother you as much mentally as they do physically. He came back healed up and refreshed mentally and physically. That’s made a big difference for him.

“He’s come in and played the way he can. That’s why he’s our leader, and that’s why he’s a game-breaker.”

Even Alfredsson, who played Saturday with Mike Fisher and Foligno, is surprised at how well his return has gone. The Senators were on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture when he returned Jan. 16 against Montreal, and he has helped the club get back on track.

Alfredsson isn’t the only Senator to enjoy success since recently returning from an injury. Milan Michalek scored in his first game back Thursday against St. Louis and Jason Spezza picked up the game-winner Saturday in Boston.

“I don’t know if I was thinking about scoring goals or points,” said Alfredsson, who has 14 goals and 26 assists in 42 games. “I just wanted to come back and help out with puck possession on whatever line I played on. For all of the players coming back, myself, Milan and Spezza, we’ve been able to come in at a good time.

“When I came back (against Montreal), they had a huge win in New York and everybody is feeling good. If they had lost (against the Rangers), then there’s a lot more pressure on me coming back. The only pressure on me is to keep it going.”

Alfredsson said with all their regulars healthy, the Senators are getting contributions from all four lines.

“That’s why we’re feeling pretty good right now. Everybody is contributing, and we’ve got four lines playing well and everybody is working hard,” he said.

Centre Chris Kelly has seen the impact Alfredsson has made.

“When you get your captain back, that’s a great thing, but when you get your captain scoring three points a game, that’s a bonus,” said Kelly. “Whoever is playing with him, they pick up some points as well. When you get a guy like that back, it’s great. When we get our offensive guys back, it makes us deeper.”

No talks with A-Train

The Senators haven’t opened contract talks with D Anton Volchenkov. He will be a UFA on July 1, but there have been no contract discussions between GM Bryan Murray and Volchenkov’s agent, Jay Grossman. The Senators have to decide what they’re willing to pay Volchenkov, who took a hometown discount when he signed a three-year extension with Ottawa worth $7.5 million US in 2007.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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