Sens set sail with 'C' power

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

The 'C' on Daniel Alfredsson's chest stands for captain.

If he doesn't perform for the Senators this spring, Sports Illustrated suggests it could stand for something entirely different: Choker.

In the April 9 edition of the U.S.-based magazine, in an article titled "Time to Put Up," Alfredsson, Dallas goalie Marty Turco, Detroit centre Pavel Datsyuk, San Jose centre Joe Thornton and Atlanta winger Keith Tkachuk are named as five players who must bring it in the playoffs.

Alfredsson was on the ice when the Buffalo Sabres' Jason Pominville KO'd the Senators in Game 5 of last spring 's second-round series and S1 points out that Alfredsson has just three goals in his last 17 playoff games.

For their parts, Turco has an 8-14 record in the post-season and Datsyuk hasn't scored a goal in 21 playoff games.

''Judgment day is fast approaching for Stars goalie Marty Turco and four other top-tier players who are in danger of being branded post-season busts," Montreal-based hockey columnist Michael Farber writes in the SI feature.

As the Senators open the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Scotiabank Place, the challenge is simple: Alfredsson has to be at the top of his game.

"If he doesn't (play well), we won't win," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "If he plays well, and it doesn't necessarily have to translate into the points, but if he plays the way he's played all year, we'll have a good chance and he'll be one of the reasons."

Alfredsson has been with the Senators through all 79 of their post-season games. The closest they came to the promised land was in 2003 when Ottawa reached the Eastern Conference final, but fell short in Game 7 vs. New Jersey.

NO WORRIES

"I'm not too worried about the perception of me and what people are going to think about me," said Alfredsson. "I know what I can do and how I can contribute to the team. If I play well, I'm going to help the team win more."

Murray said the 34-year-old Alfredsson doesn't need to carry the team, he just needs to be himself.

"In big games, he's tried to do a little more than he had to do with the puck," said Murray. "If he just plays the way he plays, which is working real hard and getting up and down the ice real well, take the shots that are there and not over handle the puck too much, then I think he's a top-end player. I do think he cares so much about this organization that he does try to do too much sometimes."

Because some fans see Alfredsson as too passive on the ice, his leadership has been questioned. Fans want to hear him curse like Tiger Woods missing a putt on the 18th green. They want to see him scolding teammates on the bench. Alfredsson saves those moments for behind closed doors.

For those who think he doesn't get mad, just listen to Chris Neil.

"He'll step up when something needs to be said," said Neil. "Last year, I took a bad penalty (against Tampa Bay) and he let me have it between periods. I'll always remember the words from across the room. I came out the next period, and (Chris) Dingman dropped his gloves and started (punching) me and he took a five-minute major.

"Alfredsson made it very clear to me what I had to do. That's why he's such a role model on our team."

Naturally, Alfredsson isn't the only one with his reputation on the line for the Senators in these playoffs. But since he has the 'C' on his chest, he attracts the most notice.

"I want us to have success and I want us to win," said Alfredsson. "I feel we have as good a chance as anybody."

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA

THE BOTTOM LINE

Following is Daniel Alfredsson's career playoff statistics with the Senators:

GP G A Pts PIM

1996-97 7 5 2 7 6

1997-98 11 7 2 9 20

1998-99 4 1 2 3 4

1999-00 6 1 3 4 2

2000-01 4 1 0 1 2

2001-02 12 7 6 13 4

2002-03 18 4 4 8 12

2003-04 7 1 2 3 2

2005-06 10 2 8 10 4

Totals 79 29 29 58 56


Videos

Photos