|A separated left shoulder is expected to keep Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson out of the lineup for at least the next 4-6 weeks (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images).
Now the Ottawa Senators will be forced to soldier on without their captain.
Just when it seemed the Senators were beginning to emerge from a crippling rash of injuries, they've learned that Daniel Alfredsson
will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a separated left shoulder.
That could mean Alfredsson will be lost to Ottawa until the two-week break for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics begins in early February.
The team is already without its No. 1 centre, Jason Spezza
, until likely after the Vancouver Games with a knee injury. Forward Nick Foligno
is also on the shelf after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but might resume skating on Sunday.
"Very disappointing," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said earlier today in Buffalo, where his team will face off against the Sabres at HSBC Arena tonight (7 p.m., no TV, Team 1200. "It's compounded when you lose Foligno and Spezza as well, so it's not just one guy. We just need guys to step up, we need guys to pick up those minutes and play hard."
Wednesday night, the Senators regained the services of starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire and forwards Chris Neil
and Shean Donovan. But that good news feeling didn't even last a period, as Alfredsson went down after he was blindsided on a hit by Craig Adams of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Not only is he the Senators captain, but Alfredsson is also the team's most indispensible player. Ottawa is 6-18-1 without him in the lineup since the 2005-06 season. But Clouston said the team can't spend too much time dwelling on life without its unquestioned leader.
"The sooner, the better we get him back," said Clouston. "Right now, we've just got to take it day by day. We've got to look at tonight's game and try to find ways to win that game and go from there. We expect him to be (out) 4-6 (weeks) but if it's earlier than that, it's a benefit and a bonus."
"Very disappointing. It's compounded when you lose Foligno and Spezza as well, so it's not just one guy. We just need guys to step up, we need guys to pick up those minutes and play hard ... Right now, we've just got to take it day by day. We've got to look at tonight's game and try to find ways to win that game and go from there." - Cory Clouston
There is reason for that kind of hope, as Alfredsson has shown in the past he's a quick healer. Last season, he underwent surgery to remove a bone chip from his right knee. In February, he suffered a hairline fracture of his jaw when struck by a puck. Both times, he only missed one game of action.
Already, he's trying to stay upbeat about his latest injury, which is considered to be among the more serious grades of shoulder separations.
"I saw Alfie at the rink yesterday and he said he slept well," said Clouston. "I've had shoulder separations before and sometimes it's tough to get some sleep. They've got him in a sling to put some pressure on it to make sure it's stabilized. He said it feels much better."
It's the same kind of attitude the Senators need to survive this latest crisis. They've had as many as five regulars out of the lineup in games in recent weeks as they continue to battle an injury wave that seems never ending.
"We've positive. We're optimistic," said Clouston. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We just have to go out there and play hard."Around the boards
With Alfredsson out, the Senators have recalled forward Ryan Keller from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League ... Leclaire will make his second straight start since returning to the lineup after missing a month with a fractured cheekbone ... The Sens' arrival in Buffalo was delayed by weather issues in Ottawa, which led to the cancellation of their pre-game skate. That means the team hasn't been on the ice since Wednesday's 8-2 loss in Pittsburgh. "We'd much rather have the skate after you've had two days off, but what can you do?" said Clouston. "Right now, we're not having very much luck on our side but we've just got to make the best of it."