OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson is out of the fog and once again sharp as a tack.
Asked what he has liked about the Senators game as they’ve won 2-of-3 without him to take control of a first round playoff series with the New York Rangers, the previously concussed captain didn’t hesitate.
“The power play,” said Alfredsson, straight-faced.
It took a moment or two for his audience to catch the sarcasm. Leading the best-of-seven set, 3-2, and with the opportunity to complete an upset of the No. 1 seed team in the East, the power play (2-for-19) is about the only part of the Senators machine that isn’t functioning at an optimum level right.
But then, it’s also been without a key cog the past three games.
That should change Monday night with the expected return of Alfredsson.
Out since taking an elbow to the head from Carl Hagelin in Game 2, Alfredsson practised for more than an hour Sunday. It was the second consecutive day of having a problem-free on ice workout.
“I feel good now so unless something changes ... I’m encouraged and hopeful for (Monday),” said Alfredsson.
Something had changed last Monday, two days after sustaining the injury, as Alfredsson suffered a setback while preparing to play in Game 3.
“I felt pretty good, I was fairly active, took the morning skate, and after the morning skate I could tell I didn’t feel right,” he said. “We had to back off. It took a few days. It wasn’t until Friday I started feeling a little better. Now I realize when I feel good.
“It’s a hard injury to really evaluate. Do I feel like I do because I haven’t done anything for four or five days? Or is it a concussion? It’s hard to know. You’ve got to try yourself in different situations and see how you react. I think the big thing is really not stress too much about it. It is what it is. You can’t speed it up. It’s hard when you’re hoping that maybe you can come back in a couple of days. But I think you’ve just kind of got to go with it. And when you feel good you push yourself a little more.”
As tough as it was not playing, Alfredsson said he was “calm” watching the games on TV.
“Can’t say the same about the wife,” he said with a chuckle.
Is she not happy with the power play, too?
“She’s fine with the power play,” he said. “But she’s hard on the refs. Very biased as well.”
Alfredsson gave special mention to the defence, defensive zone play, the penalty killing and goalie Craig Anderson when speaking of how the Senators have managed to pull in front of New York.
“We’ve just played hard every shift,” he said. “I think that’s been our mentality throughout the year. Give it everything we have and see where we end up at the end.
“Going forward, same thing (Monday). We need another gutsy effort. Everybody needs to bring their best.”
He knows he will.
“Feels just good to be back, playing a playoff game at home here too,” said Alfredsson. “My wife said it was unbelievably loud in Games 3 and 4. TV doesn’t do it justice, obviously. I’m just hoping it’s going to be as loud if not louder maybe even (Monday). We can use the crowd to get us going.
For a hockey player ... playing a playoff game at home, it doesn’t get much better.”