|The Senators have fed off the work ethic demonstrated by captain Daniel Alfredsson, above.|
by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is tied with Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby for the NHL scoring lead in the playoffs with five points, but the veteran is offering so much more than points for his team.
"(Alfredsson) is our leader. He leads by example," teammate Mike Comrie said after an optional skate today in Pittsburgh. "He's played extremely hard so far in the playoffs ,and you know what you're going to get from him."
Alfredsson scored two goals last night to help his team to a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh and 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference quarter-final series. He won't take all the credit, though.
"I'm part of the team. I'm the captain but it's a great feeling to be part of a team that tries to accomplish something," Alfredsson says. "You set up your goals early in the season and you have 20 guys that have different roles. When you see everybody clicking and playing together in the playoffs, it's the best feeling."
The right-winger has been impressed in his team's ability to work together defensively against Pittsburgh so far in the series.
"I think we've been able to do a pretty good job at limiting their chances," Alfredsson says. "If you give them too much space you're going to be digging the puck out of your net a lot of times. I think that's the focus for us, to play real solid defensively.
"We've got to be smart on how many penalties we take. Five-on-five we're working hard. We've tried to have five guys coming back so we don't give up a lot of time and space," he adds, noting that his team wants to make the Pens feel they have to rush plays.
Being physical when the opportunity presents itself is also important.
"When you have a chance to finish your checks, you try to do that," Alfredsson says. "I'm not going to go out of my way to run around, but if it's there, I'll take it."
Senators centre Mike Fisher says the Sens feed off the example provided by their captain.
"Definitely, he's been playing outstanding. Hard work and work ethic is all contagious, and we can feed off it to get momentum in a game," Fisher says. "He's been a big part of that. The goals are important, but he's doing everything."
Senators head coach Bryan Murray appreciates what Alfredsson provides.
"(Alfredsson) is a very competitive guy. He can take a hit and he bumps into players once in a while. We know he gives up a little bit of the offensive opportunities that he might have otherwise to play as a leader of our hockey team, at both ends of the ice."
Murray said after today's optional skate that Patrick Eaves still has a headache after last night's collision with Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong that forced him out of the game. Oleg Saprykin will replace Eaves in the lineup tomorrow and skate with Christoph Schubert and Dean McAmmond.