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Alfredsson 'definitely progressing,' returns to ice

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who's been sidelined with a lower back ailment since Feb. 7, returned to the practice ice with his teammates today in Tampa, Fla. He isn't sure yet when he'll be ready for game action again (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).

For Daniel Alfredsson, it's one small step at  time these days.

Perhaps one of the bigger ones came earlier today when the Ottawa captain joined his teammates for a practice session at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., where the Senators will duel the Lightning on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

Alfredsson, who's been battling a lower back ailment that has sidelined him for seven weeks, admitted afterward he's still nowhere near declaring himself ready for game action. But his spirits were definitely buoyed by today's events.

"It felt really good to be skating and shooting some pucks on a goalie," said Alfredsson. "Things went fairly well, too. I felt okay. We'll see how it feels later today and tomorrow and go from there.

"I’ll know for sure within a week how we’ll proceed with it. Just take it one step (at a time). It feels good to practise. Even though it was a fairly light practice today, it still feels good to be out there."

Added Senators head coach Cory Clouston: "He seemed to have a lot of fun out there. It's a matter of getting his timing back and seeing how he is tomorrow after his first practice in a long time."

While Alfredsson hoped his recovery period wouldn't last this long, he said "it's definitely progressing," although he still has issues maintaining power in his right leg when he tries to push off.

"It's getting a lot better, but that's the issue that I'm struggling with the most," he said. "Core strength, stability … everything’s gotten a lot better. I’ve been able to increase the amount of time I’m able to go without losing strength (in the leg), but it’s still not where I wish it was.

"The way I feel now, I feel pretty optimistic about (his recovery). I'm not where I'd hoped I would be at this point ... but it's definitely going in the right direction."

With just seven games remaining in the Senators' season, Alfredsson is running out of time to get himself back into a competitive situation. But he suggested today that there's no urgency for that to happen.

"That’s what I really would have liked and I still would like," he said of getting into a few games before the season is done. "Otherwise, I wouldn’t be skating and trying to work out and see how it feels again. I’d like to (play), but I don’t think it’s overly important that I do. If I don’t, I think I’ll be fine with it, but I’d still like to get into a couple of games if I could."

B-Sens nominate Bass for AHL community honour

The Binghamton Senators have chosen centre Cody Bass as their nominee for the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award, which recognizes a player's contributions to the community. Bass, who has spent parts of five seasons with the B-Sens, enlisted the support of friends, teammates and community leaders in Binghamton last fall to create WINGS (When I Need Guidance and Support), an outreach program which aims to raise awareness of teen suicide issues.

Bass was inspired in his cause by the death of 14-year-old Daron Richardson, the daughter of Senators assistant coach Luke Richardson, following a suicide attempt last November. WINGS was launched shortly after Bass attended Daron's celebration of life service at Scotiabank Place. He is also involved a number of other community initiatives in the Binghamton area.

Around the boards

Senators forward Ryan Shannon told the Team 1200 he's accepted an invite to play for Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship, which begins April 29 in Slovakia. Shannon, a native of Darien, Conn., who is enjoying a strong finish to his season, last represented his homeland at the worlds two years ago. Nick Foligno wore U.S. colours at the previous two world tourneys, while centre Jason Spezza (Canada) and defenceman Erik Karlsson (Sweden) have also expressed an interest in being in Slovakia ... The Senators close out their road trip Thursday in Sunrise, Fla., against the Panthers (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200) before returning home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

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