by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was an inspiration to his teammates during the 2007 playoffs. The veteran right-winger has played in all 99 playoff games in club history and is the all-time leader in goals (43), assists (37) and points (80) but this year's run was, by far, his most successful.
In 20 playoff games, Alfredsson was first among all players with 14 goals and he tied linemates Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley for the league lead with 22 points. He also led the NHL in game-winning goals with four and scored six of his tallies on the power play and another while short-handed.
Late in the Stanley Cup final against the Anaheim Ducks, Sens head coach Bryan Murray split up his forward lines - including Alfredsson's unit with Heatley and Spezza - to try and create a different look and more balanced attack.
Despite playing with new linemates - Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer - Alfredsson capped off the 2006-07 season by scoring his club's final two goals. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to extend the Senators' playoff run as the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in five games. Murray was impressed with the effort from his captain nonetheless.
"Again, it seems like whatever line you put him on, he's the guy that gets points for you," Murray said moments after the club's final game of the season. "Tonight, it was the Fisher line. It was a line because Alfie was there.
"He had lots of raps over time, I think, and that happens when you don't win championships and you don't go far in the playoffs. But this guy, to me, has been the ultimate captain for our hockey team. He's a hard-working guy. A driving force, and I think tonight he showed it again. Short-handed, with guys draped over him, he gets to the net and makes it a 3-2 game at that moment. He gave us a chance to get back into the game."
Alfredsson says he enjoyed sharing the excitement of the 2007 playoffs with Hockey Country.
"Being a part of the whole experience and having the fans rally behind us, it makes you want to do it again. As players, we'll start working out in a couple of weeks again and those will be the images we bring to the gym."
Alfredsson will spend the bulk of the off-season visiting friends and family in Sweden with his wife, Bibi, and sons Hugo and Loui. He plans to leave for his homeland at the end of June and will stay there for about two months.
During that time, Alfredsson will be able to reflect on one of the most exciting seasons of his career.
"It's been a crazy year with the start we had, and the second half and the whole run up to the finals," Alfredsson says. "It made this is a special year."