Sens Notes: MacLean praises Alfie

Sens Notes: MacLean praises Alfie

On Tuesday, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean gave a huge pat on the back to Daniel Alfredsson for helping lead the team into the playoffs.
“For me, Alfie deserves a lot of credit,” MacLean said, when asked about Alfredsson’s leadership qualities. “I think he does an outstanding job and he has made my job way easier coming here. To me, he has been tremendous and a big, big reason why this team is having the success it is having is because Daniel Alfredsson is the captain.”
Alfredsson, however, suggested MacLean was overstating things. He deflected the praise to the Senators leadership group as a whole.
“I haven’t done anything miraculous at all,” Alfredsson said. “Jason (Spezza) has stepped up and taken a big role. (Chris) Phillips, too.”
Needless to say, it was one big happy family inside the dressing room Tuesday morning, as the Senators returned to Scotiabank Place for the first time since clinching their unlikely berth in the post-season on Sunday.
As one of only two Canadian teams that will have a shot at the Stanley Cup, the Senators are also receiving more media attention in advance of the playoffs.
For his part, MacLean acknowledged that he didn’t expect the Senators to make the playoffs when the season began.
“Coming into it, we felt there was a real good core group that had had success (in the NHL) and there was a young group coming up from Binghamton that had success and the challenge for us was to marry those two groups and get something that would catch and obviously, it took a little time to happen,” he said, referring to a 7-1 loss to Colorado and a 7-2 defeat to Philadelphia in the opening weeks of the season.
“Did we expect (a playoff spot)? No. But at the same time, we felt that if we worked really work and played every game hard and every game to win, we would probably like where we would be.”
GONCHAR OUT: While the Senators insist they’ll continue to push as hard as possible to the end of the regular season, they won’t press their luck with players who are nursing minor injuries. Naturally, they want the healthiest possible lineup for the post-season. That’s why veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar sat out Tuesday’s game with a lower body injury.
“We want to make sure we’re playing and playing hard these last three games and not just throwing our sticks on the ice and going through the motions,” MacLean said before the game. “But we also want to make sure we’re healthy for Game 83.”
With Gonchar out, both Matt Carkner and Matt Gilroy played against Carolina. Those two had taken turns serving as the club’s sixth defenceman for the past two weeks. The good news for the Senators on the injury front was the return of goaltender Ben Bishop to practice Tuesday morning. It was Bishop’s first workout with the team since he suffered a lower body injury – suspected to be a groin problem – during an 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 24. Bishop had worked out on his own here in Ottawa last weekend, while the Senators were clinching their playoff spot with victories over Philadelphia and the New York Islanders.
While Alex Auld served as a back-up to Craig Anderson against Carolina, it’s expected that if Bishop gets through practice Wednesday, he will be back in the lineup Thursday versus the Boston Bruins.
“It feels good now, so we’re just going to see how it responds after today,” Bishop said. “We want on (Monday) for 20-25 minutes and it was good.”
START OF PLAYOFF FEVER: The Stanley Cup parade route hasn’t been planned out yet, but the signs of post-season hockey are in the air. Before the game, a fan with a pick-up truck had set up shop on Terry Fox drive off the Queensway, selling Senators car flags.

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