January 3, 2012
All-star chance excites Alfredsson
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - About 20 minutes after his team’s most recent dramatics, Senators coach Paul MacLean was asked about the overtime goals scored by Daniel Alfredsson in each of the past two games at Scotiabank Place.
“I think he likes days off,” joked MacLean. “When there’s a day off on the line, he steps up and shoots it in the net.”
Funny thing is MacLean knows Alfredsson works as hard as anybody. And that on the Senators’ day off Tuesday, Alfredsson volunteered to take part in a conference call with the media.
And that during the discussion, it was once again made very clear that Alfredsson never did want a break the weekend of Jan. 26-29.
Good thing, because he’s not going to get one. In the most recent ballot results located, Alfredsson had accumulated 537,918 votes, which was second among forwards only to the 592,339 cast the way of Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel.
Jason Spezza was next with 486,004, which gives him some breathing room from Sidney Crosby (458,337) and Milan Michalek (448,074).
The three forwards, two defencemen and one goalie with the most votes as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday will be granted automatic berths in the 2012 All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place.
Erik Karlsson (585,179) and Dion Phaneuf (510,617) will be the starting blueliners, while Tim Thomas (420,504) appears to have the insurmountable edge on James Reimer (410,342).
“I said going into this season it would be awesome if I could play myself onto the team,” said Alfredsson, who is third in Senators’ scoring (and tied for 58th in the league) with 28 points, on 12 goals and 16 assists, in 34 games. “I knew that was going to be hard, but either way, if I wasn’t on the team I was still going to be staying in Ottawa and be part of the festivities one way or another.
“To get the support and being close to being on the team, it feels unbelievable, to be honest. It is definitely going to be an experience, to represent your team in the all-star game, in your city. In my first all-star game in ’96, when Ray Bourque played in Boston, and I saw the reception he got and the other Boston guys.
“It was pretty special.”
Having their dad in the all-star game would also be cool for Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William Erik Alfredsson.
“That’s one of the things I’m going to look forward to most, if I get in ... bringing the kids to the locker room,” Alfredsson said. “The two oldest are old enough to know a lot of the players who are going to be there, through video games and hockey cards and whatnot.”
All five Senators on the ballots have expressed gratitude and amazement with the way Ottawa fans have stuffed the boxes, so to speak.
“I thought it was going to be tough getting voted in with there being bigger cities, especially Toronto, maybe Montreal and other teams,” Alfredsson said. “It’s great to see the support we’ve been getting and hopefully it can carry on for the next few hours. It’ll be great if we can get quite a few guys in.
“I think all of us feel very humbled by the whole thing.”
Meanwhile, Alfredsson continues to be the inspiring force on a young, surprising team that, as of Tuesday, was sixth in the Eastern Conference. At 39 and coming off back surgery, he’d probably have another 10-12 points had he not missed time with concussion and groin problems and had he played on Jason Spezza’s line all season.
“My back isn’t 20 years old anymore, but it’s not something I can’t maintain by making sure I warm up properly every day, stretching and looking after it,” said Alfredsson, who no longer has the nerve issue that sidelined him in 2010-11.
Alfredsson says it’s realistic to think the Senators can hold on to a playoff spot, that they wouldn’t be where they are now if they were not worthy of a Top 8 finish. He admits the upcoming month will be a challenge — 10 of the team’s next 13 games are on the road — and that the Senators no longer are going to catch anybody by surprise. He says they’re going to have scratch and claw for their points, but they are not afraid to do just that.
“Stay in the moment, that’s the biggest thing we have to do,” he said. “Don’t get carried away. Lose one or two, win one or two, approach it the same way. At the end, add it up. Done a good job of that so far.”
And at the end of a long tough January, he looks forward to playing a little more hockey. At the 2012 all-star game.
“Just to be able to be a part of it is going to be an experience like no other year,” said Alfredsson. “You can always dream, and sometimes dreams do come true.”