Alfredsson gets star treatment

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Heroes are anointed nightly during the NHL playoffs.

So are goats.

Yesterday, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, a guy labelled a "choker" by Sports Illustrated just last week, was being lauded as a "great leader" after a two-goal performance in Ottawa's 4-2 victory Sunday over the Penguins at Mellon Arena.

Alfredsson got star treatment yesterday, which is tough to come by with a guy named Sidney Crosby playing for the other team.

While Crosby has appeared on the podium following both coaches every day during the series, the Senators had so many requests from the media to speak to Alfredsson after Game 3, the club decided he should speak as well.

"Don't pat him on the back too hard," said Senators coach Bryan Murray as Alfredsson was taking a seat.

Alfredsson says he's not doing anything special, but when you score twice and nail old Ottawa nemesis Gary Roberts with a check, something's different.

"The whole team is (playing well). I've felt pretty good myself," said Alfredsson. "The whole team has been pretty solid and consistent in the second half of the season. It has kind of set us up for this."

But Alfredsson's teammates want to give credit where credit is due.

"(Alfredsson) has been around the longest. (Alfredsson) has received the most criticism," said Ottawa centre Jason Spezza. "You see a guy with the pressure he had going into the series and see him respond the way he's responded, it gives our team lift.

"He's doing a great job and he's leading the way. The criticism he's received isn't right and it isn't fair. This is a guy who leads by example and he's doing a great job."

WATCH THE HITTING: As a result of the hit by Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong on Patrick Eaves in Game 3, there was plenty of debate about blows to the head yesterday. Spezza, who called Armstrong's hit "dirty," said the NHL Players' Association and the league have to do something about it before it's too late. "They're waiting for it to happen to someone real important in the league, like a Sidney Crosby or Jarome Iginla, and then they'll fix the problem. They should fix it right away, before it gets to that," said Spezza. "Guys want to hurt your players to help their team win. It's a lack of respect to the game, but it happens so frequently now that it's part of the game." Eaves, meanwhile, wasn't at the rink for the club's optional skate. He still had a mild headache as a result of the hit. "(Eaves is doing) a lot better. He still needs a little time, of course," said Murray. "He's got a little headache, but beyond that, he's okay." Eaves won't play tonight in Game 4, which means LW Oleg Saprykin will make his Senators post-season debut.

EYES ON WADE: A lot has been made of the struggles of Senators D Wade Redden through the first three games of the playoffs. His role on the team has slipped and there are now whispers the Senators might deal him to Edmonton during the off-season. Those rumours are being fuelled by the fact Oilers coach Craig MacTavish has made an appearance during the series. The Oilers are going to work desperately to improve their blue line in the off-season and GM Kevin Lowe has always coveted Redden and Chris Phillips. Murray talked to Redden yesterday. "He was on the ice at the end of (Game 3) when (the Penguins) had the goaltender out and I thought he did a real good job," said Murray. "When (Redden) is really moving his feet, he is a hell of a player and some nights he doesn't move as much as he should. The last game we played the Montreal Canadiens in Ottawa (on March 30), he was a star -- an absolute star. I told him I got spoiled by watching him in that game and I expect that from him every night. What he did that night was move his feet."


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