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Sens captain set to make debut

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Daniel Alfredsson says it’s time to take the next step.

So the Senators captain will suit up for game action for the first time this pre-season when the Philadelphia Flyers visit Scotiabank Place on Wednesday night (7 p.m., Rogers TV, Team 1200).

Alfredsson, who hasn’t played in either of the Senators’ first two pre-season games because of tightness in the hip/groin area, has been skating a full speed the past few days. Earlier this afternoon, he declared himself good to go against the Flyers.

Senators forwards Chris Kelly (left) and Nick Foligno listen to instruction from head coach Craig Hartsburg during practice today at Scotiabank Place. Kelly skated on a line with captain Daniel Alfredsson and Antoine Vermette in preparation for Wednesday night's pre-season game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Place.
“You take it step by step,” he said. “You start skating on your own, then you start skating with the team (in practice) and then you play an exhibition game. It’s kind of an evolution, the whole thing. I’m looking forward to (playing).”

With the Senators’ trip to Sweden to open the regular season – not to mention a “special” exhibition contest in his hometown of Gothenburg against the Frolunda Indians – on the horizon, Alfredsson wanted to feel 100 per cent before seeing game action.

“We skated so much the first three days (of training camp),” he said. “I could have played, no question. But I didn’t want to go back and pull my groin or whatever because I needed to play an exhibition game. I feel fine now and should be ready to go.”

Head coach Craig Hartsburg, who had Alfredsson on a line with Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette in practice today, is eager to see his captain in action.

“It’s good when your captain is around the team and playing,” he said. “We’re getting to the point now where we’ve got to start to try to put our lines together with next week in mind.”

Along that vein, Hartsburg intends to play No. 1 goaltender Martin Gerber from start to finish against the Flyers. He saw 40 minutes of action against the Rangers on Saturday but sat out Monday’s rematch between the teams in New York.

“He’ll start playing 60-minute games now,” Hartsburg said of his top stopper. “We don’t have seven or eight (games) to go through (the pre-season) playing half-games, so we’ll start playing him 60 minutes.”

The Senators still have 37 players left in camp but Hartsburg expects to reduce that number before Friday’s trip to Montreal to play the Canadiens.

Around the boards

CBC announced today eight Senators regional telecast dates are being added to its schedule, pushing the team’s appearance total on Hockey Night in Canada to 21 for 2008-09. The additions include the Sens’ home opener against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 11 and a visit by the Boston Bruins on Oct. 18 …  TSN2 released a 34-game NHL broadcast schedule today, including two previously non-televised Sens games: Dec. 10 at Chicago and March 25 at Carolina … Saturday’s pre-season game against the Montreal Canadiens will also air on TSN2 … Hartsburg said centre Mike Fisher “tweaked his groin a little bit” in practice this morning and won’t suit up against the Flyers. “We don’t think it’s anything serious at this point,” the coach added.

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