April 10, 2012
Alfie relishes return to playoffs'Really gratifying' after bounce-back season
By Bruce Garrioch, QMI AGENCY
Daniel Alfredsson can make even more memories.
The Senators captain has been able to savour this season already: First, there was the resurgence in his play. Then came a magical weekend all-star weekend in Ottawa. Now, he welcomes the spring with a trip back to the playoffs.
The 39-year-old couldn’t have scripted it any better himself coming into the season. Off-season back surgery has made Alfredsson look and feel young again. While he is talking about retirement, many believe he has years left in the NHL.
Alfredsson did wonder if he’d ever get another shot at the playoffs. The retool started last spring with the decision to send players packing and the hiring of coach Paul MacLean. The post-season wasn’t supposed to be reality.
“Last summer, part of me was hoping that maybe we could do it,” said Alfredsson. “Like everybody else, I didn’t make a pick, I was hoping we could be close. The way we played after the first six or seven games, we really got going.
“That built a lot of confidence in the team. It feels great to be able to be back in the playoffs. It’s really gratifying for everybody, but especially us older guys.”
Alfredsson, who made his only trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, is happy to have that feeling again.
“It’s what everybody plays for on the big stage and seeing how your game holds up in pressure situations, in big games and when the crowd is really into it. It’s different than the regular season. It’s going to be a lot of fun to get back into that atmosphere,” said Alfredsson.
Alfredsson was on a Senators’ team in 1998 that was ranked No. 8 and upset the top-ranked New Jersey Devils. He might remind a few of his new teammates that the Rangers aren’t untouchable.
“For sure. I think last year as well there were a few upsets,” said Alfredsson. “You look at it today and it’s so close. The teams that finish high, if they’re healthy, they have a better chance or they should anyway.
"There’s so many mental things that can happen. If you get down in a series or somebody’s special teams get really hot to win you games or a hot goalie ... There’s so many different scenarios that could happen that could change momentum in a series. We go in believing we can win. It’s going to take a huge effort from everybody and everybody is going to have to play well.”
Alfredsson said the ’98 upset was special because the Senators beat the Devils using the same style.
“When Jacques (Martin) came in 1996 we started building a foundation and it was pretty much based on what New Jersey was doing,” said Alfredsson. “We did that for two years, then we end up playing them and beat them at their own game. That was really gratifying.
“I still remember some of the comments from New Jersey afterwards: They felt they lost it and we didn’t win it. That made us feel even better because we know we frustrated them.”
THE ALFIE FILE