|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson believes a two-day break to deal with a hip flexor issue now will help maintain his overall health over the rest of the season (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Daniel Alfredsson couldn't be much happier with his health these days.
And he wants to keep it that way.
With the bigger picture in mind, the Ottawa Senators captain will sit out Tuesday night's road matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200) to nurse a hip flexor ailment that's been nagging him for the last few days. However, Alfredsson expects a couple of days rest should have him good to go Thursday, when the Florida Panthers visit Scotiabank Place.
"The last four or five days, I started to feel my hip flexor getting weaker and weaker," Alfredsson said as his teammates packed up for their flight to Raleigh, N.C. "It's at a point where, if I look after this now, it won't become more of an issue. If I play (Tuesday), it could be a longer period of time I miss later.
"If I take a few days off here, I should be back to normal and play Thursday."
Alfredsson called it more a matter of "wear and tear" than any specific incident causing the current issue. It is unrelated in any way, he added, to the back woes that cut short his 2010-11 season on Feb. 7 and eventually led to off-season surgery.
"It's just been coming on slowly," said Alfredsson. "I felt it a little bit in the morning skate before the Winnipeg game (last Thursday). During games, once you get warm and get the adrenalin going ... I don't feel it much. But the day after ... it's slowly been getting weaker and weaker. But it's nothing major and I want to keep it that way."
This issue aside, Alfredsson says he couldn't have asked for much more in his return to game action following the off-season surgery. Less than two months shy of his 39th birthday, the Senators captain still feels he's got plenty of jump in his stride.
"I haven't surprised myself in terms of the way I've played, but I've been surprised with how good I've felt on the ice (when) skating," he said. "Especially the last two games, we've been able to win and the way we've played as well ... it's been a lot of fun to be back at this level and contributing."
And with five points in three games — and a shootout-clinching goal against the Minnesota Wild in the Sens' home-opener two weeks ago — Alfredsson surely remains his team's most important player. He credits a regular routine of stretching and strengthening his core muscles with keeping his back healthy and allowing him to play the kind of game he favours.
"I haven't shot the puck as well as I would have liked, but I'm having fun out there," said Alfredsson. "I feel like I can get from A to B in a reasonable amount of time and that's the biggest thing. I can get into battles, I can win loose pucks at times — that's always been my game and to be able to do it again is a lot of fun."
Around the boards
With Alfredsson out of the lineup, Ottawa has summoned forward Kaspars Daugavins from the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators for his first duty of the season with the big club. The Latvian forward currently ranks second in B-Sens scoring (4-2-7) and is one of the team's alternate captains. Daugavins might find himself in a top-six forward position against the Canes. "He had a good training camp and he's a good enough NHL player that we believe he can play there," said Senators head coach Paul MacLean. "If we need to play him there, we will" ... The status of centre Peter Regin, who suffered a shoulder injury in last Thursday's win over the Jets, remains uncertain at the moment, though he's definitely out Tuesday night. "Peter is meeting with the doctors again later today," said Ottawa GM Bryan Murray. "He's hurting, there's no question, but we'll have to wait and see what the doctors tell us."