11th heaven for Alfredsson

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:55 AM ET

BUFFALO - On the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the century, the Senators will welcome back No. 11.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson was along for the ride as the Senators packed their bags for one of their longest road trips of the season, and he expects to suit up Friday against the Sabres.

Alfredsson will take winger Chris Neil’s place. Neil suffered an ankle injury in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers and won’t be available to play in Friday’s game or Saturday in Toronto.

Alfredsson, 38, less than two weeks removed from suffering a concussion after a ugly elbow from Rangers winger Wojtek Wolski, skated on a line with Stephane Da Costa and Nick Foligno and declared himself ready to go.

“(The odds are) pretty good. It was good (Wednesday) and again (Thursday). I’m expecting myself to be back and ready to roll,” said Alfredsson.

“I’m not going to be cautious. You’ve got to be aware at all times on the ice. I’ve said that before. If you don’t feel you’re ready, then you shouldn’t start playing again. I feel confident in my reaction time and I’ll just try to play as normal.”

If Alfredsson is “normal,” then he’ll be one of the Senators’ best players as the club tries to snap a four-game losing streak to start a stretch of six straight on the road.

“It would be a huge boost for our team to get our captain back in the lineup,” said centre Jason Spezza. “He does a lot for our team on and off the ice. It would definitely give us a bit of a jump.

“He’s feeling pretty good. He’s definitely recovered well from injuries in the past. I think this early in the season he wouldn’t come back unless he was 100% and ready to contribute.”

Coach Paul MacLean, who said Neil got hurt after taking a knee from New York’s Brandon Dubinsky in the third period of Wednesday’s game, was pleased to hear Alfredsson was ready. The stats show it’s a good night for a return. In 80 career games against the Sabres, Alfredsson has 41 goals and 40 assists — more than a point a game.

“Isn’t that good news? I can’t wait till (Friday). I may not sleep,” said MacLean. “Actually, I should sleep better. He averages 30 goals a year. He has a track record of doing it and it gives you a second line the other team has to respect.”

There was concern when Alfredsson first suffered the injury, with plenty of uncertainty about head injuries — especially with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby sidelined since January.

Alfredsson said he has kept in contact with team physician Dr. Mark Aubry. One of the foremost concussion experts in North America, Aubry assured Alfredsson he wouldn’t be out for an extended period.

“It was frustrating for a while,” admitted Alfredsson. “I can’t say I felt terrible, really. I had headaches the day it happened. Since then, I haven’t taken any medication or anything. I’ve been able to be up and moving. I just had to be cautious about how much I did.

“I was pretty confident that it was going to settle down. When I talked to (Aubry) a week after, it was getting to the point where it was going to get better soon. All I know is the way I feel. I feel ready. I feel confident about going back. Otherwise, I wouldn’t.”


Videos

Photos