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Sens hoping this game won't be Alfredsson's last

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Sens hoping this game won't be Alfredsson's last
The Ottawa captain might be suiting up for the final time in his illustrious career Thursday night -- or be in the early stages of a long playoff run that could energize him to play another season.

NEW YORK -- Daniel Alfredsson might be suiting up for the final time in his illustrious career Thursday night. Then again, he might only be in the early stages of a long playoff run that could energize him to play another season.

Ottawa's 39-year-old captain has reached a crossroads in his career. He has some control of the situation in Game 7 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), and total control of his future if the Senators were to fall on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

He admitted Thursday morning that he has thought about himself and reflected on his career since the end of Game 6, but only very little because it does him no good to have those internal emotional battles with so much still on the line.

"I did a little bit the other day read some comments about (Nicklas) Lidstrom, but at the same time I just try to stay here and now, take it day-by-day, enjoy it, make the most of it and we'll see after," Alfredsson said. "Especially in the playoffs, it takes a lot of energy to get ready and you can get distracted, but I just focus on today."

Are Alfredsson's emotions any different going into this particular Game 7 than any of the previous four he has been a part of?

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"Not really," he said. "I feel good in the sense going into Game 7 with this group. It's been an unbelievable year throughout the whole season. We've grown as a group together. It's been one of the most fun seasons for me in a while. To see all the young guys, how well they've played and handled different situations, it's a grind just to get into the playoffs and hopefully we can keep going from here."

Alfredsson is 0-4 in Game 7s. So are the Senators.

They were last in this position in 2004, when Toronto knocked Alfredsson and the Senators out of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with a 4-1 win at Air Canada Centre. Alfredsson also played in Game 7 against the Devils in the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals, in Game 7 against Toronto in the 2002 Eastern Conference Semifinals, and in Game 7 against Buffalo in the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

If he gets a point Thursday against the Rangers, it will be his first in a Game 7 for his career. He was shut out in his four previous appearances.

Maybe that's why Alfredsson said Game 7 experience doesn't matter that much now.

"I think experience helps you, but it's just a matter of going out there and giving everything you have," he said. "We have an opportunity to advance, and if you don't the season is done. It's exciting to be in this position. I think we've worked really hard to get here. We just want to make sure we make the most of it.

"I can't say I should have done this in the past so I'm going to do this now. No."

But Alfredsson's teammates would certainly like to help him buck the trend of Game 7 failures, if for no other reason than to keep him playing for at least the next little while.

"Hopefully we can play our best game today," Erik Karlsson said, "and hopefully that will motivate him to maybe think about coming back next year as well."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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