Alfie uncertain for Game 3
Sens captain feels better after elbow to head, will likely be game-time decision
Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson gets helped off the ice after receiving a hit to the head by the New York Rangers during second period action Saturday night in New York. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)
NEW YORK - In the 111 all-time playoff games in modern-day Senators’ history, captain Daniel Alfredsson has only missed four.
Will No. 11 suit up for No. 112 Monday night?
That’s the burning question after coach Paul MacLean told reporters Sunday the club’s captain is feeling better after getting elbowed to the head by New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin Saturday night.
While Alfredsson wasn’t around when Chris Neil scored the OT winner in a 3-2 victory that allowed the Senators to tie the series 1-1, a return hasn’t been ruled out for Game 3 as the Eastern quarter-final shifts to Scotiabank Place.
The belief is Alfredsson’s chances of playing are 50/50. He wasn’t on the ice or in the building for an optional skate Sunday.
“He was feeling good (Sunday). So we’ll see,” said MacLean. “He’ll be further evaluated and we’ll see what it’s like (Monday).”
MacLean said he didn’t know if Alfredsson, who missed five games with a concussion in early November after getting hit by former Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski, would be ready to take part in the pre-game skate.
His teammates are optimistic that even if Alfredsson doesn’t play in Game 3, he won’t be out for long.
“It’s tough for us to lose (Alfredsson). Hopefully, he should be fine,” said defenceman Erik Karlsson, who played 30:06 in Game 2, had 10 shots and scored the opening goal. “He’s still the same old happy guy. We’ll see how he feels and it’s probably going to be a game-time decision.”
If Alfredsson has a concussion, he could be done for the series, which means the Senators would have to soldier on without their leader.
Centre Jason Spezza said the club is up for the challenge, especially with their confidence boosted by leaving New York with a win.
“We’ve been a group that’s picked each other up all throughout the year,” said Spezza. “Nothing seems to get us down. You look back to the Islanders game, I’m not there and (Alfredsson’s) not there, and the guys play one of the best games of the year.
“We hope (Alfredsson’s) not out for very long. We like him better in the lineup. If he is out, we’re going to rally and try to play as good as we can, so when he comes back we’re in a good position in the series.”
The complexion of the series has changed as a result of Saturday. New York’s 4-2 victory in Game 1 was widely regarded as ho-hum, especially with all eyes on the Penguins/Flyers war in Pennsylvania.
“We wanted to defend ourselves,” said goalie Craig Anderson. “We wanted to play a hard-nosed game. We did what we had to do to stick up for each other. We stuck together as a group of five.
“We’re playing for each other here. We’re playing for the crest on our jerseys. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re going to stick together.”
The decision to dress Matt Carkner and his payback on Brian Boyle for the liberties he took on Karlsson in Game 1 have set the tone for what’s suddenly become a physical series. The players have felt the intensity level shoot up.
“It’s playoffs. It’s intense,” said Spezza. “You see the same team night in and night out. You’re going to have natural rivalries. It’s going to get more intense as it goes on. It’s definitely intensity picking up and you can definitely feel the temperature of the series is rising.”