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Sens captain won't face Bruins

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators’ task against the Boston Bruins got a little tougher Thursday morning.

Senators head coach John Paddock announced after the team’s pre-game skate that captain Daniel Alfredsson, who’s been bothered by a sore hip flexor, won’t be in the lineup when the two teams face off at Scotiabank Place on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).

The injury, which forced Alfredsson to sit out the third period of Tuesday’s 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders, had continued to linger the past few days.

“(Alfredsson) could probably play if it was a playoff game, but he wants to try and get rid of it rather than just have it hanging there,” said Paddock.” I think he termed it that he’s at 80 per cent. Eighty per cent of him would still be our best player, but he needs to get it better.”

Alfredsson later told reporters he won’t make the trip to Toronto for Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs and doesn't plan to skate again in practice until Monday. He hasn't worked out on the ice with the team since the injury, which first occurred during a Jan. 17 game against the Carolina Hurricanes, flared up again Tuesday night.

"I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize (the injured hip flexor),” he said. “I’m just going to take some time off here.”

With Alfredsson out, the Senators summoned forward Josh Hennessy from their American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. This morning, though, No. 1 centre Jason Spezza skated on a line with Randy Robitaille and rookie Nick Foligno, who was called up from Binghamton on Tuesday with forwards Patrick Eaves (neck, shoulder) and Cody Bass (foot) also sidelined.

While Dany Heatley (separated shoulder) skated with the team in practice again Thursday morning, his return isn’t imminent.

“Obviously, it’s tough when you take a guy like Alfie out of the lineup and it’s even harder when Heater’s out,” said Spezza. “We’re missing two (key) bodies, but we’ve just go to make do and try to win the game any way possible and make sure we play a smart hockey game.”

Paddock said it’ll take a collective effort to fill the huge void caused by the absence of Alfredsson.

“You don’t (replace Alfredsson),” he said. “It’s that simple, you don’t. I think we need to be aware of and play like Boston. They’ve had their second-best player (Patrice Bergeron) out of the lineup for most of the year and they’ve had goal scorers like Glen Murray and (P.J.) Axelsson out. They play patient and smart and wait, so I think that would be a pretty good pattern (for us) to follow.

“It’s not that (someone has to) take (Alfredsson’s) ice time or score his goals. Just get that contribution through one, two and three lines that are balanced. In other words, you don’t have to have Jason Spezza’s line score every goal. There has to be a goal from each line in a game and that should be enough to win. That’s the kind of stepping up (we need).”

Martin Gerber (23-8-1) makes the start in net tonight.

Less than 250 tickets remain for the game.

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