|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says his team can gain a lot from crucial showdowns like tonight's meeting with the Florida Panthers.|
by Todd Anderson
Every time the Ottawa Senators have stepped onto the ice lately they have competed in games with significant playoff implications. The team is taking advantage of the high-intensity matchups to prepare for the upcoming playoffs.
Tonight the Senators face a new challenge when they visit the Florida Panthers, another Eastern Conference opponent that continues to battle with hopes of securing one of the final playoff positions.
"(Florida is) giving a good run for it," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says. "They pose a different challenge in that they're just going out there with nothing to lose. I think it's good that you go out there, and it's not the same thing every night. You have to prepare differently."
The Senators will have their hands full with the hometown Panthers. Florida is 21-11-4 at home this season and 7-3-0 in its last 10 games at BankAtlantic Center.
"There's no question they're playing real well at home," Senators head coach Bryan Murray says. "They're scoring lots of goals. That's the big thing that has changed on their team. All along, I think they've played very adequate defence. It appears now that, with all the highlights I see, they're getting great goals. High-skilled goals, and plenty of them."
Redden and Schaefer chosen among best Wheat Kings
On Tuesday, Senators defenceman Wade Redden and forward Peter Schaefer were unveiled as two of the Top 40 players in Brandon Wheat Kings history. Fans voted Redden as the second-best player, behind high-scoring left-winger Brian Propp, to ever skate with the Western Hockey League team. The WHL's top rookie in 1993-94, Redden played three years in Brandon, scoring 27 goals and 153 points in 178 games.
While Redden cracked the Top 10, Schaefer was among the next 30 former Wheat Kings who were not ranked in the vote. Over four seasons in Brandon, Schaefer scored 124 goals and 291 points in 200 games. He was named to the Canadian Hockey League all-star team in his final year in 1996-97.