|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is optimistic about the direction his recovery from a concussion is taking, but can't say yet when he'll be ready to return to game action (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
For Daniel Alfredsson, it isn't go time just yet.
But after an invigorating pre-game skate with his teammates earlier today, the Ottawa Senators captain believes he's moving ever closer to returning to game action for the first time since suffering a concussion some 11 days ago.
While he won't suit up against the New York Rangers tonight at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200), Alfredsson "doesn't see any reason why I shouldn't be able to" accompany the Senators on a road trip that begins Friday in Buffalo against the Sabres. When he'll play next ... that still remains a mystery.
"I have no idea (yet)," Alfredsson told a horde of media as he stood in the Senators dressing room following today's pre-game skate.
"It's just day by day and talking to the coaches and seeing what they think. This is a little different than any other injury I've had, so I want to make sure I feel good ... I'll take it one day at a time and go from there."
What is clear, however, is that Alfredsson enjoyed being back in the mix with his teammates for the first time since suffering the concussion on Oct. 29 in New York, when he took a blow to the head from the Rangers' Wojtek Wolski during the Senators' 4-3 shootout triumph at Madison Square Garden.
"It feels good," he said. "It's been over a week and just the last few days, it's been fun to be back on the ice. You miss it pretty quick. The last few days have been encouraging, for sure."
Added head coach Paul MacLean: "I thought he looked fine. He was energized and he was having fun, so I thought it was real positive."
Ottawa has gone 1-3-1 since losing its captain and his absence is clearly felt.
"I can't turn somebody into Daniel Alfredsson," said MacLean. "He's a veteran player with some pedigree in the league and he gives you another line that's got credibility right away and he has the ability to score. We have other players in that spot right now that are learning to play in the league and it's a little more difficult for them.
"A guy like Daniel can come in right away and give you some offence."
Alfredsson last spoke publicly six days ago and said at the time that he was still suffering from symptoms such as occasional dizziness. But the Senators' training staff has spent extra time working on the captain's neck in the last few days and it's made a huge difference. On Tuesday, Alfredsson passed the baseline test that's required for him to be cleared to return to action according to the National Hockey League's established protocol for dealing with concussions.
"Gerry (Townend, the Senators' head athletic therapist) and the trainers have been working on my neck a lot and since then, it's been a lot better," said Alfredsson, adding the recovery process from this injury has been new to him. "Since Sunday, I've been feeling good, so I'm not anticipating it going the other way or anything.
"I feel sharp. I feel alert. When you're going through it, you're questioning how it's going to take. You feel great one moment, then the next you're not, so it was difficult ... But as soon as I'm ready, I'll be back."
Around the boards
Also taking the morning skate today for the first time in awhile was defenceman Matt Carkner (knee), but MacLean said his return to the lineup isn't imminent. "It was a real positive step for Matt Carkner," he added. "It was good to have him back out there, too, but he's still a little ways away, I think. It's the first time he's practised since training camp." ... One lineup change for the Senators tonight against the Rangers. Blueliner David Rundblad returns to the lineup after a two-game absence, while Brian Lee will be a healthy scratch ... Senators goaltender Craig Anderson is 6-2-1 all-time against the Blueshirts with a 1.95 goals-against average, his second-lowest career number against any opponent ... Fewer than 750 tickets remain for tonight's game, including 190 in the Coke Zero Zone starting at $15.