OTTAWA - Which Swede will join/rejoin this Senators-Rangers playoff battle first:
Will it be A) Daniel Alfredsson, whose status is “unchanged” and did not make the trip to New York with his teammates because of a concussion, or
B) Carl Hagelin, the speedy Rangers winger who on Saturday will serve the third and final game of a suspension for putting Alfredsson on the shelf with his elbow, or
C) Jakob Silfverberg, the Senators prospect who could be the best player in the world never to suit up for an NHL game?
The best bet is probably Hagelin, although he could have company through the “enter” door if the Senators lose Game 5, especially if it’s because of a scoring deficiency.
And this is not to suggest Alfredsson will be in the lineup on Monday, either, because there’s no information being released as to where he stands on his recovery.
But Silfverberg, who is to arrive from Sweden Sunday, could be injected into the Ottawa lineup if it’s deemed he’d help the cause.
A winger picked 39th in the 2009 draft, Silfverberg was told after last summer’s development camp there was a spot on Ottawa’s roster this season for him if he decided to stay. But the 6-foot-1, 190-pound 21-year-old figured it’d be better for his progress to play another year back home in the elite league.
As it turned out, he flourished with Brynas, scoring 54 points in 49 games while being named the league MVP, then leading the team to a league championship this week.
His 13 goals in the Elitserien playoffs broke a record that was previously held by Alfredsson.
“The intention right now is to bring him over and (for him to) be just another young player that’s here,” said GM Bryan Murray, who added that “long term, it was the right decision” for Silfverberg to spend another year in Sweden.
Is a jump into the NHL playoffs too big for him to make? Nobody knows for sure, but there is a belief his style is well-suited for the North American game.
“It’s a big difference, I think,” said Erik Karlsson, who watched Silfverberg score the championship winning goal a couple of days earlier. “But obviously, if he comes here and feels good about himself, we’ll see what happens and go from there.
“Obviously the ice surface is a big difference, and the way the game is played over here is much more different that it is back home. I don’t doubt that the skill over there is just as good as it is here ... there’s still a lot of good players playing in Europe, although I think overall the game is very different here. It’s small things that happens here that doesn’t happen back home. It’s all a matter of how fast you can adjust to it.”
Meanwhile, the Senators have a more pressing decision to make with Jesse Winchester (upper body) expected to miss Saturday’s game.
When a reporter asked Paul MacLean if it wasn’t good for a person, meaning Alfredsson, to fly when he has a concussion, the coach replied: “I’m not a doctor, I don’t know. But they’re not travelling.” That might lead one to believe Winchester has another concussion.
Anyway, practising Friday and making the trip to Manhattan was Mark Stone, who had 41 goals and 82 assists in 66 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings this season.
Also with the team is Mike Hoffman, who led Binghamton with 49 points (21 goals) this season.
If the Senators elect to go with someone with more NHL experience, Kaspars Daugavins and Rob Klinkhammer are options.
“All players in our organization are available to us,” said MacLean. “Mark Stone has had an outstanding season and we wanted to make sure we got a look at him with our group. We’ll decide whether we use him or not, but we wanted to make sure we saw him (first).”
Stone was moved just watching the last two games at Scotiabank Place.
“It’s been unbelievable, the fans are so passionate here,” he said. “They really understand what playoff hockey is. It gives you jitters just sitting in the crowd.”
THE MAGIC MAN
Daugavins has played an important role, despite watching the last three games as a healthy scratch. We found this out when Kyle Turris, who scored Wednesday’s overtime winner, asked us if he could play ask himself a question for us.
Huh? Um, okay.
“So how did you score that goal?,” Turris asked. “What was the magic going in there?”
“Kaspars Daugavins came up to me before the game and gave me some magic,” Turris replied. “Earlier in year I was going through a slump, and I sit beside Dog Man in the room, and he said ‘Turry I’m going to give you some magic, and you’re going to score a goal.’ and I scored a goal that game. So (Wednesday ) night before I went out, Dog Man was in the back and I asked for a little magic.’
“I swear to God it’s unbelievable. He did it to (Nick Foligno) in Long Island and Nicky scored. It’s legit magic. If you’re in a slump he’ll break you out of a slump.”
Foligno offered verification.
“Dog Man gave me the magic in Long Island,” he said. “I was like, I’ve had a lot of chances the last few games but haven’t scored, and Dog came over to me and said, ‘I’m going to give some of the magic. Next period, I went out and scored. I think there’s something to be said for it. He gives you a little love, that’s about it. It’s only when he feels it. He’s got a sixth sense. Hopefully, I get the magic a couple of more times.”
Daugavins’ magic last two weeks, he said. It’s currently sitting with Turris, Foligno and Milan Michalek.
“It’s a special magic,” Daugavins said. “I’m not telling the secret of how and what, but it works. Last year I gave magic all the time (in Binghamton) and we won. Certain guys I give it to. It’s good for two weeks, unless you break a stick, then I have to put a new one in. It only works when you’re thinking positive things. It doesn’t work if you’re mad and yelling at your stick.
“I don’t have any left to give myself, that’s why I’m not playing. My magic works better with Turry than me, that’s why I give it to him.”