Sunday game will provide closure for fans: MacLean

Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators have moved on from their summer split, according to coach Paul MacLean.

Sunday game will provide closure for fans: MacLean
Head coach Paul MacLean gives instructions as the Ottawa Senators practice at the Bell Sensplex. (Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen)

Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators have moved on from their summer split, according to coach Paul MacLean.

Sunday’s contest between the Senators and Detroit Red Wings at Canadian Tire Centre will help fans do the same, he said.

“I think it’ll finally put a close to it, yes,” he said following a lengthy practice at CTC. “We’ve moved on and I know Daniel’s moved on. This gives fans an opportunity to the same and I think it’ll be good for everybody.”

As for the reception for No. 11?

“I’d expect it to be very good.”

MacLean has bigger things to worry about at the moment, however.

Despite the two wins the Senators have already notched against Detroit this season, they’ll be facing a very good team that is quickly pulling away from them in the Eastern Conference playoff race. With a regulation win Sunday, the Wings, who hold the last Atlantic Division playoff spot (there are also two wild cards available), would pull 11 points clear of struggling Ottawa.

“The big focus is us,” MacLean said. “We have to do what we have to do, we know we have a difficult opponent no matter what’s on the line or who’s in their lineup, we know that they’re a good team.

“They played well against Long Island the other night, gave them all they can handle, they’re gonna give us all we can handle and we’ll just have to be focused on playing the game.”

The Wings beat the Islanders 5-0 Friday night, with Alfredsson scoring twice.

Asked why his team seems to play better against some of the NHL’s top-tier teams, MacLean suggested fear was a factor.

“If you don’t come out and play, it could get ugly … maybe it’s as simple as that,” he said. “But we try to prepare our team for every opponent the same way, to make sure we have that emotion and play hard in every game.

“We haven’t got that every game this year … our next chance is tomorrow.”

MacLean didn’t reveal who would be starting in goal against the Red Wings because he hadn’t spoken to the players yet. Expect it to be Robin Lehner.

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