Call it a frustrating end to a frustrating season.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson
won't be in the lineup tonight when the Ottawa Senators close out their 2008-09 campaign in Toronto against the Maple Leafs (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). An ailing back is the culprit that will keep Alfredsson on the sidelines for only the third game this season.
"My back is bothering me," said Alfredsson. "I would have liked to have played but (given) where my back is, I think it's best to sit this one out."
Alfredsson said the injury won't require off-season surgery.
"It's just going to take rehab and strengthening it up here and I'll be fine," he said. "It hasn't been too bad. It's more in the last week or so, it's been getting a little worse. It's nothing serious."
Earlier this week, Alfredsson indicated back woes would prevent him from suiting up for Sweden at the IIHF 2009 World Hockey Championship, which begins in two weeks in Switzerland.
"He’s played with a lot of injuries the last little while and it finally caught up to him," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "But he’s been real good for us, he’s been a leader and we can’t expect a whole lot more from him."
"My back is bothering me. I would have liked to have played but (given) where my back is, I think it's best to sit this one out." - Daniel Alfredsson
Tonight's matchup marks the first time since the Senators re-entered the National Hockey League in 1992-93 that both teams will be on the outside looking in when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin next Wednesday. The Senators (36-34-11) will finish 11th in the Eastern Conference, one spot ahead of the Leafs (33-35-13).
Still, Clouston expects a spirited affair this evening.
"Both teams are looking for the same thing – to finish on a high note, to play well and build some momentum for next year," he said.Around the boards
Brian Elliott (16-7-3) gets the start in goal for Ottawa tonight, his first since March 31. Alex Auld
started the previous five games ... The Senators, meanwhile, will see former teammate Martin Gerber in the Leafs net ... With a 6-1 home-ice loss on Friday night, the Binghamton Senators were officially eliminated from playoff contention in the American Hockey League. The B-Sens close out their season tonight in Albany, N.Y., against the River Rats.