|Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is providing a perfect example of what is needed to win in the playoffs. Photo: A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators are displaying the determination, confidence and courage of a champion during these playoffs, and captain, Daniel Alfredsson has been leading the way.
"He's playing better than he has ever played," says Senators general manager John Muckler. "You have to learn how to be a leader. You have to learn how to take charge of guys. You have to have support. Even Wayne Gretzky needed support. This is a team sport. You've got to be surrounded by people who support you. We have that.
"It's nice to see him be able to perform the way he can perform. He's just going about his business."
Alfredsson continues to be an offensive dynamo for the Sens, but so many other aspects of his game, many of which cannot be measured with stats, support his overall contribution to the team.
"He does everything really," says teammate Mike Fisher, who skated on a line with Alfredsson earlier this season. "He competes, he battles. He can slow the play down and he can get in on the forecheck and create things. He sees the ice very well.
"He's been playing unbelievably. He's really elevated his game. Guys feed off that. When you see your captain go out there, and he's working and doing the things he's doing, guys want to follow suit."
Adds alternate captain Chris Phillips: "His play has been phenomenal. The leader that he is, everyone is just following right along. Not that we're riding on his coattails, but he has been a tremendous example for all of us."
Since joining the organization in June 2004, head coach Bryan Murray has been impressed with what he has learned about his captain.
"The little bit I know about Alfie over the last few years, I think his character is that he is a hard-working, determined individual. He's a good person. I can see why when you're around him for a while, you like this guy and you like having him on your team. The players really respect him because he does work hard."
Alfredsson says he feels more energized in these playoffs, compared to last season when his hockey season included a role as a key member with Team Sweden that won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
"I think I'm a better player this year than I was last year. I felt confident going into the playoffs," Alfredsson says. "Playing with Heatley and Spezza doesn't hurt, either.
"When I feel like I do now, it's fun to go out on the ice. I love going into battles in the corners, just trying to beat guys off the puck and create things. The competition, that's what is lots of fun."