|Captain Daniel Alfredsson, who kept playing despite with a hairline fracture of his jaw, is the Senators' nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
He is a captain who prides himself on leading by example.Daniel Alfredsson
's unwavering level of dedication to his teammates and the game he loves rarely goes unnoticed in the Ottawa Senators dressing room. That recognition reached a new level when Alfredsson was chosen as the Sens' 2009 nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is presented annually to "the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
"Any time you get nominated (for a league award), it's a great honour," said Alfredsson, who previously won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year in 1995-96. "It's very nice when you are recognized."
No doubt the members of the Ottawa chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, who select the Masterton nominees, couldn't look past the rare type of determination Alfredsson has showed this season. In October, he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his right knee. Last month, he suffered a hairline fracture of his jaw when struck by a deflected puck during a game.
In both cases, Alfredsson sat out only one game before returning to action.
"When you're the captain, you try to show and lead by example," he said in explaining his quick rebound on those occasions. "I'm not trying to be the hero. I'm just trying to push myself to come back as fast as I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
"I'm fortunate that here in Ottawa, we've got great doctors and trainers, everything put together. It's been a frustrating year with the knee surgery and the jaw (fracture), but I only missed two games, which is fortunate as well."
"When you're the captain, you try to show and lead by example. I'm not trying to be the hero. I'm just trying to push myself to come back as fast as I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. - Daniel Alfredsson
When Alfredsson and the Senators face off against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200), they hope to build on some of the momentum they gained in Sunday's 3-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"We played very solid throughout the whole game," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said earlier today after putting his team through a 30-minute practice at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. "Scoring early was important and getting it on the power play was nice. It was a 60-minute effort and we didn't give up a whole lot."
The biggest beneficiary of that effort was goaltender Brian Elliott, who recorded his first career NHL shutout.
"I've got to give credit to the guys in front of me," he said after the win. "(Tampa) didn't have much and I just had to have a couple of saves. They put the puck in the net pretty well, too."
O'Brien headed to Binghamton
Centre Jim O'Brien
, the Senators' top selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft (29th overall), is about to take the next step in his development with the organization.
O'Brien has been assigned to the Senators' American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., and is expected to join the B-Sens on Tuesday. He had spent the season with the Seattle Thunderbirds, who were eliminated from the Western Hockey League playoffs over the weekend. O'Brien also represented the United States at the IIHF 2009 World Junior Championship in Ottawa.
"This is a great test for him," said Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray, who oversees the organization's top prospects in Binghamton. "When you're a kid who can play in the world junior championship, it means you're top end in your age group. Now he can go down and play against men and see where he fits physically and mentally, and compete in that three-games-in-three nights scenario."
The addition of O'Brien should also provide a boost to the B-Sens during the AHL's stretch drive.
"I think right off the bat, he'll slide in there as our second-line or third-line centre and he'll get the opportunity to play lots of minutes and contribute," said Murray. "He can go down there at a time when we are facing some injuries and in a playoff fight. Hopefully, he can help us get through it."
Around the boards
The game against the Panthers is the second-last stop on the Senators' current six-game road stretch, which wraps up with a matchup against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins on Thursday night at TD Banknorth Garden (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) ... Ottawa returns home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). Fewer than 1,500 tickets remain for the game.