Alfredsson always stands and delivers

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

OTTAWA - “What do we have left? Eleven games?” Daniel Alfredsson said to the fourth wave of reporters he faced in the Senators’ dressing room after Friday’s morning skate. “So No. 11, I should score tonight.”

This promised to be a busier weekend for Alfredsson than the rest of his teammates. Not only did he have a pair of back-to-back games against the Senators’ fiercest rivals, but with Montreal and Toronto media joining the swelling contingent in the nation’s capital, he could count on spending an extra 20-30 minutes a day answering the same questions. Again and again and again.

“I could cut it off any time I want, too. After the first wave, I could just say thank you and then leave,” said Alfredsson, who is like a bowl of honey to bees when the dressing room doors open for the reporters every day.

So why doesn’t he limit the sessions? Why does this 39-year-old veteran stay to make sure every single visitor is done with him before he heads off to the showers? Why is he as good off the ice, to us, as he usually is on it?

If fact, when it comes to accommodating the media, Alfredsson is one of the best in the league. He’d be forgiven for hiding in the back and taking a day’s break, but he won’t. Why?

“Because maybe there’s only 15 more scrums for me,” said Alfredsson, who has not officially decided if this will be his last NHL campaign.

You’ll miss them?

“Probably. Of course I would,” he said, before ending any notion of an impending group hug. “It’s not you I’m talking to, it’s the fans behind you.”

That’s why he doesn’t mind answering the same questions again and again and again.

“I think when you get older, it’s not a burden at all,” he said of the interviews, which other players grumble about having to do. “Maybe in the beginning, when you’re worried about saying the right thing all the time. I think I’m comfortable enough now where I can handle all the questions. You guys portray us to the fans. I’ve always taken pride in it too. I always talk to the media. Win, lose or otherwise. There’s always exceptions, but then the younger guys (on the team) pay attention, and see that’s the way to do it.

“It’s part of the job and I enjoy it.”

Meanwhile, Alfredsson was a little confused why the reporters in the first three waves didn’t ask him about his dry spell. Entering Friday in an eight-game scoring slump, he was the coldest of all Senators forwards.

“It doesn’t bother me if people ask me why I haven’t scored in (eight) games,” said Alfredsson, who set up Filip Kuba’s winner in overtime. “If I’m not playing well and I get criticism, it’s because I’m not playing well. There’s no hiding it. It is what it is. The only thing is when you look too much at stats, maybe. But am I playing well? I don’t think I’m playing great at all. So if somebody criticizes me, it doesn’t bother me.

“You’ve got to be comfortable with yourself, and know if you’re playing well or not. If I go out there and didn’t care, I think that would show on the ice. Am I happy all the time in practice, or stuff, that I’m not scoring? No. I’ve been grumpy. But I don’t let it ruin my life.”

STOPS AND STARTS

It’s becoming apparent that Colin Greening plays better when he’s angry. The big Senators winger actually was none too impressed with P.K. Subban after the Habs defenceman pancaked him to the ice early in the game, and actually instigated the ensuing fight. Greening went on to have a solid night and was rewarded for his work with his 15th goal of the season. He should have had his 16th on the next shift, but couldn’t get a handle on the bouncing puck ... Subban and Erik Karlsson will see each other in a number of Norris Trophy races over the years. While Subban doesn’t quite match Karlsson’s offensive skills, he sure can throw a big hit. Just ask Greening, who he caught with a dandy in the second ... With the skills he exhibited scoring in the first period, shouldn’t Tomas Plekanec have more than 14 goals by now?

WHO'DA THUNK IT?

If the Senators finish first and, as the second seed, face the Bruins in the first round, should they not be the favourites in the series? “No,” said Alfredsson. But doesn’t having more points over 82 games mean you’re the better team? “The defending champs against a team that was supposed to finish last?” said Alfredsson. “How can you turn it into us being favourites? Even if we finish ahead of them. They have experience, the playoff MVP ... maybe they just waited for the playoffs. Didn’t push themselves. Rested up. That’s what I’m going to say.” ... If Karlsson didn’t have to play against the Habs, he’d be close to the leaders in the plus-minus race. He’d be plus-22. In four games against Montreal before this one, he was a minus-7

BETWEEN PERIODS

Carey Price made one mistake in the first two periods, and that was to send the puck in front of his net while he was behind it. Fortunately for him, Rob Klinkhammer and Erik Condra were the two Senators that had a chance at it ... Unable to convert any of those power play chances, maybe Paul MacLean should have turned to Chris Phillips again. He’s leading Sergei Gonchar in power play goals, 3-1, despite trailing in power play shifts by at least a hundred ... Phillips did save a goal when he hooked Lars Eller while the Hab was about to flip one into the net.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ...

Former 67’s defenceman Brad Staubitz was at the end of a long shift and skating to the bench when Chris Neil jumped over the boards on a line change to tell him not to try any rough stuff with rookie Jared Cowen again. Seeing it as a rare chance to fight against a Senator team that had two of its toughest players in the pressbox again, the tired Staubitz dropped the gloves and went at it with the fresh Neil, and did okay, considering. Playing a team for the second time in a row and knowing it was going to be a chippy night, Paul MacLean should have dressed Matt Carkner for Matt Gilroy and Zenon Konopka for Jim O’Brien. Neither move would have made a difference in the final score, likely, but both would have provided extra safeguard against a Habs team looking to release some steam.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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