KANATA, Ont. -- Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is 39 years old. He realizes this may be his last chance at a Stanley Cup and he plans to relish every second of the experience.
"I think I look at it as it could be my last playoffs and I'm going to treat it as such, too," Alfredsson said. "Who knows if I'm playing next year (or) if we'll get back to the playoffs -- you just want to make sure you enjoy it and make the most of it."
Right Wing - OTT
GOALS: 27 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 59
SOG: 191 | +/-: 16
The Senators' captain has become a modern-day hero in the city of Ottawa, leading a club filled with fresh-faced rookies and rejuvenated veterans to the postseason – a position that few expected the team to achieve in 2011-12. The previous postseason saw the Senators on the outside looking in for only the second time in 14 years, and Alfredsson's back surgery at the end of the last season left his future in doubt.
However, September's training camp quickly demonstrated that the veteran was ready to go, and the mood surrounding the franchise instantly buoyed. The belief that the Sens could be better than the expectations laid out for them came from the top and spread outward.
"Like everybody else, I didn't maybe think, 'Maybe we could be close,' but after the way we played after the first six or seven games and we really got going, it really built a lot of confidence in the team," Alfredsson said. "It feels great to be back in the playoffs. It's really gratifying for everybody, but especially us our older guys."
Looking back on the season, the Swede remains humble on the role he has played in the Sens' resurgence and is quick to give credit to others—most notably his alternate captains.
"I haven't done anything miraculous at all," Alfredsson said last week. "Jason [Spezza] has stepped up and taken a big role. [Chris] Phillips, too."
However, coach Paul MacLean got right to the point when discussing the relevance of his club's leader.
"The success this team has had is because Daniel Alfredsson's the captain," MacLean said. "He's made my job a lot easier."
Naturally, the admiration works both ways.
"There are a few things [MacLean has brought to Ottawa]," Alfredsson said. "The way we play, the system we play … an up-tempo, skating, energizing game, which is fun to play. I think it's also brought fun back into the locker room, too. We've said all along that we feed off our energy in the room. To be able to fun when the time is right, and to get focused when it’s game time. He's been a big part of that."
The captain knows that like the regular season, the playoffs will revolve around the Senators proving their ability to compete. Alfredsson says the team will face a challenge against the top-seeded New York Rangers, but believes his team is up to the task.
"I think I look at it as it could be my last playoffs and I'm going to treat it as such, too. Who knows if I'm playing next year (or) if we'll get back to the playoffs -- you just want to make sure you enjoy it and make the most of it." --Daniel Alfredsson
"We know they're a good team, and we respect their team a lot -- there's no question," Alfredsson said of the Blueshirts. "They're a team that's not going to give you much offensively, penalty killing, they help the goaltender out a lot by blocking shots, playing solid and taking away the second chances. Their goalie is pretty good. But having said that, we've played pretty good against them, we've had close games and we know we're going to have to play our best, because they've shown they're one of the best teams throughout 82 games in the season.
"I think [we're the underdogs] – they finished first in Eastern Conference and we finished eighth. That kind of explains itself. But we all know upsets happen, as well. We're not going to get away with playing a sloppy game. We're going to have to be disciplined both with the puck and by staying out of the penalty box.
"I'm sure that [the Rangers] have confidence in the way that they play, and so do we. When we play well, we're a good team. Obviously, we're going to try and get off to a good start, win the first game and get the momentum. But it's going to be a fun challenge. I'm happy to have the chance."