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Alfie still out against Kings

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Daniel Alfredsson will wait at least a few more days before he'll play.

The Senators captain won't be in the lineup again Thursday night when Ottawa takes on the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center (10:30 p.m., no TV, Team 1200). It's the second straight night the team will have to play without Alfredsson, who is still feeling the effects of a cross-check he took from Ducks defenceman François Beauchemain during their game Monday in Anaheim.

"He feels better, but he still has a little bit of (tightness) to it," Senators head coach/general manager Bryan Murray said after an optional team practice this afternoon. "I guess if it was a playoff game, he'd play, but I just don't want to put him in that position right now."

Alfredsson remains hopeful his back will feel better in time to suit up against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

"I think it's the right thing to do, give him two more days (of rest) and we'll see if he can play in Phoenix," said Murray. "When he comes back, he'll certainly be closer to 100 per cent than he is now.

"More than anything, what he needs right now is rehab and a little bit of rest. By doing that, I think we'll benefit from it and, when he comes back, he'll certainly be closer to playing (at the level) we think he can play."

Saturday's game at Arena will be the final stop on the Senators' four-game western road swing. Ottawa has picked up a point so far on the trip, from Wednesday's 3-2 overtime loss in San Jose.

Murray also announced rugged winger Brian McGrattan will be inserted into the lineup tonight against the Kings.

"I'm not exactly sure yet who's coming out, but I'm putting Brian in," said Murray.

Martin Gerber (24-12-3), who was a standout against the Sharks, makes his fourth straight start tonight.

"I just felt that, after the way he played (Wednesday) night and the way the team responded in front of him, it's only fair that I go back with him," said Murray. "He's had the two tough games now against real high-end teams. We need to win a hockey game and he's on a little bit of a roll."

Gerber and the Senators almost got that win against the Sharks, carrying a 2-1 lead into the final three minutes before Jonathan Cheechoo tied it for San Jose on a slick feed from Joe Thornton. Patrick Marleau added the winner in overtime.

"I went in (to the dressing room) afterward and I complimented them on the effort," Murray said of his post-game message to the players. "I recognize that San Jose, with Alfie and Chris Neil and guys like that (out of our lineup), they're a better hockey team than we were. I don't think there's any question about that.

"I'd like to give us a couple (more) weeks. We don't have a lot of time but I'll tell you, we will narrow that gap and we'll be better going forward. I see a lot more togetherness now. I see the guys trying really hard."

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