Alfredsson will suit up against the Habs

The seven-month itch will end for Daniel Alfredsson on Friday night.

The Ottawa Senators’ captain, who hasn’t seen game action since pulling himself out of the lineup following a Feb. 7 contest against Vancouver, will play against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place.

BY KEN WARREN

OTTAWA — The seven-month itch will end for Daniel Alfredsson on Friday night.

The Ottawa Senators’ captain, who hasn’t seen game action since pulling himself out of the lineup following a Feb. 7 contest against Vancouver, will play against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place.

While Alfredsson is trying not to make too big a deal about being in the lineup for an exhibition game, it’s nonetheless a positive step after he underwent back disc surgery last June.

Other than the NHL lockout of 2004-05, he has never had a longer absence between games.

“Things are going well, so the next step is playing a game,” Alfredsson said following Thursday’s workout.

Eight days ago, when the club kicked off its new season with its annual charity golf tournament, Alfredsson was unsure of how his body would react to the pace and intensity of the start of training camp.

His mood has changed noticeably since then.

“I was (cautious), I didn’t feel as well as I would have liked going in, but I’ve been feeling good in camp,” he said. “I’ve been able to go through all the skates without any problems. With the scrimmages and battling drills in practice, and lots of skating, and to be able to hold up for more than one or two or three days, that’s a good sign. I’m happy where I am and looking forward to playing a game.”

Senators coach Paul MacLean, who labelled Alfredsson as the “pulse” of the team, is ecstatic about the health of his captain. Before camp, the two discussed the situation, recognizing that Alfredsson would increase his intensity based on how his body responded to workouts.

“I think he has got better every day,” MacLean said. “We said before training camp that we would be cautious before he played and (he wanted) to get some good skating in. He’s ready to play. He has been very good in practice and has showed great leadership, and that’s why he’s captain of the team. Every day he’s there, doing it right.”

Alfredsson says game action is what fuels athletes — “it’s fun when fans are in the stands, that’s the biggest reason you play” — but he’s not going to stretch his limits.

“I’m going to play smart, try not to do too much and just work myself into the pace of it,” he said. “The plan is still to be really ready when the puck drops for the first regular season game (Oct. 7 against Detroit).”

There’s no set number of games for Alfredsson to play in the preseason, but MacLean suggested the most “realistic” scenario would see him play three games. Alfredsson would like to play the final game of the preseason next Thursday against Boston.

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