I was just doing my job: MacLean

Daniel Alfredsson once again on Tuesday apologized for his uncharacteristic water bottle-stomping, stick-slamming temper tantrum early in the third period of Monday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers. But Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean was not apologizing for causing Alfredsson’s meltdown by benching him and the rest of the first powerplay unit to begin the third.

Daniel Alfredsson once again on Tuesday apologized for his uncharacteristic water bottle-stomping, stick-slamming temper tantrum early in the third period of Monday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

But Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean was not apologizing for causing Alfredsson’s meltdown by benching him and the rest of the first powerplay unit to begin the third. It was by any standard a gutsy, perhaps risky, coaching move, because it could have alienated the team’s top players at the worst possible moment, with the series potentially heading to a deciding seventh game.

MacLean said it was a coaching decision made in the best interests of the team, and he’d do it all over again.

“I think I just coached the team,” MacLean said. “If you go back in the game to the power plays in the second period, we gave up scoring chances at our net with that unit on the ice. We took penalties with that unit on the ice. “Kyle Turris’ powerplay group scored the goal to make it 1-0 for us. So, in the third period, we felt we should give them the opportunity, since they were better.

“When we coach the team every night, we’ve said a lot of times that the best players play, and a lot of nights it’s Jason (Spezza) and (Alfredsson) and that group.

“(Monday night), it wasn’t, so it’s my job as coach to give the team the best opportunity to win, and the players that do that are the ones who should be on the ice at the right time.

“And that’s all it is to me.”

Nonetheless, there were multiple conversations on Tuesday to sooth the boiling frustrations that emerged from the 3-2 loss, which tied the series at 3-3 and sent it to a seventh game on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

If Alfredsson has ever thrown a fit like Monday’s in his career, it is difficult to remember, which is why he still appeared deeply chagrined the day after. Just back after missing three games with a concussion, Alfredsson said he was frustrated to begin with and then “lost it” when Rangers centre John Mitchell gave him a “pretty good lick” while he was killing a penalty to Turris.

Alfredsson said he was annoyed with himself because he hadn’t seen Mitchell coming at him sooner. When he got to the bench, he erupted, nearly taking off Colin Greening’s leg when he slammed down his stick.

“I know I have to control myself,” Alfredsson said. “I don’t send a good message to the rest of the team by doing that. So I don’t think you’ll see that happen again.”

When his emotions settled, Alfredsson gave Greening a little tap as if to say, “Sorry about that.”

Spezza accepted that MacLean was sending a message by benching the No. 1 power-play unit.

“I think he just didn’t want us out there because he felt we weren’t going good on the power play,” he said. “That’s his prerogative.”

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