Alfie determined to return this spring

Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa January 5, 2011.  ...

Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa January 5, 2011. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI AGENCY)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 PM ET

Daniel Alfredsson still hasn’t ruled out a return to the lineup this season.

While the Senators captain missed his 18th straight game Saturday at Scotiabank Place with the Tampa Bay Lightning in town, the 38-year-old is going to try to suit up again before the regular season ends.

The games might be meaningless in the standings, but Alfredsson, who has been skating on his own, is trying to avoid having surgery on his back and wants to see if he’s capable of playing by simply undergoing aggressive rehabilitation.

“We still have some optimism that he may play before the end of the season,” coach Cory Clouston said Saturday morning. “That is our hope and our wish. I don’t think surgery is in the forefront.

“That’s a last resort. I think we’re going to exhaust everything before we look at that right now.”

If Alfredsson does go under the knife, the surgery wouldn’t be career-threatening, but at this point it would be season-ending. The recovery time is 4-to-6 weeks.

The Senators will play their final game of the season in three weeks on April 10 against the Boston Bruins at the TD BankNorth Garden and Alfredsson would like to be back in the lineup by then.

A comeback is important for the captain, and his peace of mind, going into the off-season.

“He just wants to see if the things that he’s working on right now, and the things that he’s doing right now, can allow him to play games without surgery,” said Clouston. “So, if he does play games, for him it’s more information than anything (else).

“He wants to play. He’s a competitive guy. He sees the team winning games now and he sees the young guys playing well. He wants to be involved in that, so there is that competitive side that really wants to play some games.

“He really wants to make sure that he’s exhausted all areas. He’s doing extensive work on rehab and strengthening right now,” said Clouston. “He just wants to make sure he puts himself in a test if he can to see if that’s working for him.”

THIS ’N’ THAT

As expected, Senators GM Bryan Murray opened contract talks with G Craig Anderson’s agent, Justin Duberman, last week. Nothing is imminent — the two sides have a lot of work to do and no contract figures have been exchanged. You’d have to think a three-year term will get a deal done. Anderson didn’t play Saturday night, but he should be ready to start Tuesday in Raleigh ... Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher turned back the clock during the team’s Saturday morning skate. He didn’t like the way a drill was being done, so he ordered all the players to the ice for 20 pushups. That’s not something you see at a skate very often.

STILL CHASING FIFTY

Lightning C Steven Stamkos is aware of what a rollercoaster ride the NHL season can be.

He knew there would be highs and lows after setting a torrid pace with 21 goals in the Bolts’ first 22 games this season, and he’s found the road to 50 has turned out to be pretty difficult.

But, being only seven goals shy of that esteemed mark with 11 games left going into Saturday’s visit to Ottawa, Stamkos is trying not to concern himself with reaching the milestone for the second straight season.

“It’s in the back of my mind. I get asked about it a lot,” said Stamkos, who hit the post in the first period Saturday night. “It’s tough to not really think about it. Last year, it was a little easier to focus on individual things. The team wasn’t in the (playoff) mix and guys were trying to get set me up every night. I knew it was going to be a different scenario this year.”

C’EST WHAT?

“I’d say a Sedin. Not sure which one.” — Bolts C Steven Stamkos, when asked who should be the NHL’s MVP this season. He went on to add the award should belong to Daniel.

THINGS I THINK I THINK

The Senators didn’t record their first shot of the game until 15:46 of the first when Dwayne Roloson made a glove stop on D Erik Karlsson that looked like it was going wide. D Filip Kuba had hit the post moments earlier ... G Robin Lehner has spent way more time in Ottawa this season than in Binghamton. He was spotted in the hallway getting treatment for his back injury ... What a pass by Lightning D Nate Thompson to thread the needle and set up C Vinny Lecavalier for a breakaway on the opening goal at 6:32 of the first. That was Lecavalier’s 17th point in 18 games and only the second shot of the game ... The 67’s will open the playoffs at The Bank next Saturday at 2 p.m. because the Home Show is occupying the Rona Centre. The 67’s spent Saturday night watching the Senators-Bolts game in a private box ... Reporters in the press box were up in arms about the NHL’s new concussion protocal when Nick Foligno left briefly in the second period after getting bodychecked by Tampa’s Chris Clark. Foligno appeared to have a sore neck ... Wonder if the Senators will be able to deal Filip Kuba in the off-season? He has zero goals in 54 games for the Senators, but he looked like he scored one in the second for his former Tampa teammates.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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