Daniel Alfredsson says he can't even begin to guess when he'll be healthy enough to return to the Ottawa Senators lineup.
Four days after taking a blow to the head from Wojtek Wolski of the New York Rangers, the Senators captain is still enduring concussion symptoms. And until they subside, Ottawa will have to soldier on without the services of its unquestioned leader.
"I don’t think you can," the 38-year-old Alfredsson said earlier today when asked if he's set a target date to return from the first concussion of his career. "If I’m home with the kids and I do too much, I get light-headed and a little dizzy. I’ve got to sit down for a bit and then I feel okay again. Until that’s gone, I’m not going to do anything physically.
"It’s too short a period of time to say. But it’s been different in the way you feel. I woke up the next day and didn’t have a headache, so I thought ‘okay, this is good. It’s going in the right direction.' But as soon as I do a little too much, I get symptoms. It’s a different feeling. But it hasn’t got any worse and I’m hoping it’s going to be a lot better (soon)."
After Alfredsson went down on Saturday, the Senators completed their rally from a three-goal deficit to edge the Rangers 5-4 in a shootout at Madison Square Garden. The following night, Ottawa edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at Scotiabank Place, extending its winning streak to six games, before dropping a 5-3 decision to the Bruins in Boston on Tuesday evening.
"It’s always disappointing to get injured but the way we were going, you want to be out there, no question," Alfredsson said of suffering the injury with the Senators in the midst of a major roll. "But it is what it is and you just come back as soon as you can."
That isn't likely to happen this weekend, and the Senators are preparing to go without their captain for back-to-back home contests against Northeast Division foes — Friday against the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200) and Saturday versus the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
"We’re without our captain, one of our better players, it looks like for the weekend," said Senators head coach Paul MacLean. "So we’re going to have to recover from that and continue to play without him until he’s symptom free and he’s able to get back into the lineup.
"The encouraging thing for me is that he didn’t have any headaches, but he still, if he exercises, has some queasiness or uneasiness which … I don’t know if it’s good or bad."
With Alfredsson out, the Senators will need a collective effort to make up for his absence.
"He's an important part of our team and he’s our captain, but everybody has to elevate their game now," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "Concussions are a funny thing, so we’re not sure how long he’ll be out — it could be a couple days, it could be a couple weeks. We just have to prepare like we’ve done without him so far and everybody (together) has to try to make up the difference.
"You need your veterans to take hold of games sometimes to get things back on track and when Alfie’s out, it puts more pressure on everyone else to do that because he does such a good job of making those plays. He’s a special player and even when he’s not having the best game, he can change that in one or two shifts and make a huge impact on the game."
Added MacLean: "It's not only the skill set he has, but it’s his leadership in the room and getting the team prepared to play and handling momentum swings during the game ... he has the ability to go on the ice and do things right. I think that’s the biggest part of him (we'll miss). He’s a voice in the room who can settle things down when momentum’s going the other way."
The hit by Wolski didn't draw a suspension from National Hockey League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. While Alfredsson said he accepts the verdict, he added "I don't totally agree with it."
"I don’t think (Wolski's) intention was to hit me in the head, but I’ve seen it a few times and he tries to lean into me a little bit," said Alfredsson. "It’s not a blatant elbow, but it’s (a hit) to the side of the head and nothing of the shoulder or anything. I can’t say it’s a dirty play but yeah, it could have been avoided ... (The NHL) thinks it was accidental, but I have no problem with their decision."
Around the boards
The Sportsnet telecast of Friday's game begins at 6:30 p.m. with the launch of the annual Roger's House Telethon. You can help a great cause by texting SENS to 45678 for a $5 contribution or SENATORS to 45678 for a $10 donation. Or visit www.sensfoundation.com to lend a hand ... Goaltender Alex Auld was back on the ice for practice today at Scotiabank Place and MacLean expects to have him available for duty this weekend ... Craig Anderson will make the start against the Canadiens on Friday. At the moment, no lineup changes against the Habs.