Ken Warren’s 10 Takes

While the Ottawa Senators have been away for the past 12 days, the biggest fanfare surrounding the team has come from elsewhere: The Rihanna heritage sweater/dress spectacle in Los Angeles and the return of defenceman Erik Karlsson to the ice in Ottawa.

NEWARK, New Jersey — While the Ottawa Senators have been away for the past 12 days, the biggest fanfare surrounding the team has come from elsewhere: The Rihanna heritage sweater/dress spectacle in Los Angeles and the return of defenceman Erik Karlsson to the ice in Ottawa.

Now, they’ll come home to do laundry Saturday before heading back on the road again Sunday, concluding the seven-game road stretch back in Boston, where it all started on April 2. Appropriately enough, the 117th running of the Boston Marathon will also be taking place on Monday.

Anyway, as you curse Mother Nature once again, waiting for the snow to melt, here’s your weekly Ten Takes grab bag from around the Senators dressing room and the NHL.

1–THIS IS FORTY, ALFIE VERSION: Daniel Alfredsson has made no comments about his future beyond this season, but I can’t see the Senators captain not returning in 2013-14. Sure, he’s 40, but he has been the Senators most consistent forward this season, with plenty of jump most nights. His empty net goal Thursday was his 10th of the year and the 17th consecutive season he has hit double-digits. The only other Senator with 10 goals before Friday was Cory Conacher — and he scored nine of them with Tampa.

2—IS PAUL MACLEAN THREE WINS AWAY FROM THE JACK ADAMS TROPHY?: The team was in a sinkhole, having lost five straight games, the playoff spot was sliding away and was nursing a one-goal lead in the final minute. How many other NHL coaches would have dared put on the ice a guy making his NHL debut? Jean-Gabriel Pageau responded to that trust Thursday, picking up his first NHL point in the process, as the Senators ended their slide with a 3-1 win over Philadelphia.

3—MICHALEK FRIDAY, COWEN NEXT WEEK?: For the past two weeks, Milan Michalek and Jared Cowen have kept each other company, skating every day along with the designated healthy scratches, rehabbing their injuries. Michalek finally returned from his knee surgery Friday. Now, if the knee bone is connected to the hip bone…signs point to Cowen closing in on returning from his hip surgery in the very near future. Cowen, listed at 6-5 and 228 pounds in the club’s media guide, appears to have grown a bit.

4—FROM ONE ILYA TO THE NEXT: Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov bristled at the media for perceived poor journalism Thursday, ripping them for reporting that he allegedly slept during a team meeting. Friday, New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer ripped the media for suggesting that Ilya Kovalchuk was ready to return against the Senators. I’ll say this much. In both cases, the stress level was off the charts.

5—BLAME BRYZGALOV, BUT…: The beleaguered Flyers goaltender has received the brunt of criticism for yet another disastrous Flyers season, but again, who is responsible for giving him the blank cheque contract (nine years, $51 million)? The irony in all this is the Flyers traded away Bryzgalov’s back-up Sergei Bobrovsky — now a Vezina Trophy candidate in Columbus — for Steve Mason, who had become Bobrovsky’s back-up in Columbus. That’s the circle of life, Flyers style.

6—THE ROAD TO SUCCESS IS NEVER EASY: Early in the season, when the Boston Bruins were basking in their hot start – and in the sunshine due to a rare five-day stay in Florida – there were plenty of whispers about how the Bruins received the best schedule coming out of the lockout. Now that the Bruins have hit some road bumps due to a heavy slate of games and the resulting injuries — “those players aren’t robots and the schedule has been as tough as it could ever be on an athlete,” according to Bruins coach Claude Julien – there’s not an ounce of sympathy from anywhere else in the NHL.

7–THE GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER….IN EDMONTON: I can’t help but wonder if there is a small voice inside the head of Edmonton rookie defenceman Justin Schultz’s head, wondering ‘did I make the right decision?’ Schultz, who manipulated his way away from Anaheim – the team that drafted him – to sign with Edmonton last summer, was on the wrong end of 2-1 loss to Anaheim this week. Edmonton is in a familiar place, yet again a non-playoff team. Anaheim, meanwhile, has a shot at the Stanley Cup and the future is bright with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry signed long-term.

8–BOOING IS BELIEVING: After another lost Sabres season, fans have had enough of bad trades, bad signings and bad hockey and they’re letting the players know it. “I don’t care how frustrated anybody is. Negativity breeds negativity and if you want to see a bad product on the ice, and you continue to boo, what do you expect? You’re obviously going to get a negative result,” said Steve Ott. Memo to Ott: angry fans are committed fans. They pay the price for overpaid players. They own the right to be heard. In good times and bad.

9–BEWARE TIGHT TOQUES: If Randy Carlyle’s theory about tight helmets causing the brain to swell – “heat expands and cold contracts,” he said – indirectly leading to concussions, wouldn’t we all be at risk of head injuries by simply wearing a hat in the winter? This being Masters’ weekend, do you think the Maple Leafs coach might just want to take a mulligan on voicing a crazy theory that he didn’t bother running by doctors trained in the field of concussions?

10—LUKE RICHARDSON FOR AHL COACH OF THE YEAR?: Since the end of the lockout, the Binghamton boss has permanently lost goalies Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop, defencemen Andre Benoit, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba, along with forwards Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg. Still, Binghamton is on the way to the AHL playoffs, currently boasting a record of 40-23-7.

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