This afternoon Bruce Garrioch announced that the Ottawa chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) had selected Daniel Alfredsson as the Senators' nominee for the NHL's Masterton Trophy.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
Last season, Alfie put up a career low of 31 points while being limited to 54 games because of lower back/hip problems that necessitated offseason surgery. With no guarantees that the surgery would allow him to full health or permit him to continue being the player that we had all grown accustomed to watching, Alfredsson, much like his team, has exceeded every expectation placed upon him.
After all these years, you would think by now, we would have stopped writing off Daniel Alfredsson. Never again. Not only has he tallied 22 goals and 49 points in 65 games, the captain has thrived in a mentoring role for many of this team's younger players.
Zack Smith Generates Some Interest
From Elliotte Friedman's most recent 30 Thoughts blog:
22. The Senators would like to see Zack Smith "play angry" a little more often, but Bryan Murray realizes he's got a good piece there. Heard a lot of teams have asked about him over the years, which Murray confirmed. (Of course, he wouldn't say who.)And why wouldn't he?
A few weeks ago, before their February 28th game versus the Bruins, I had a conversation with Scott (@Wham_City) noting that this game had the setting and importance to be an ideal platform for a number of Ottawa's grittier forwards to emerge from their slumps and elevate their game. Zack Smith was just one of the names to come up but he was one player whose game we agreed would thrive in a playoff matchup with the Bruins. He just has that innate on-ice dickheadedness that opponents loathe playing against.
Jakob Silfverberg's ELC
In light of Silverberg's recent comments that @steffeG so eloquently translated for this site, it's worth noting that regardless of whether Silfverberg plays in 10 games this season, the first season of his entry level contract (ELC) will come off anyways.
Per Article 9.1 (d) (i) of the NHL's CBA:
In the event that an 18 year old or 19 year old Player signs an SPC with a Club but does not play at least ten (10) NHL Games in the first season under that SPC, the term of his SPC and his number of years in the Entry Level System shall be extended for a period of one (1) year, except that this automatic extension will not apply to a Player who is 19 according to Section 9.2 by virtue of turning 20 between September 16 and December 31 in the year in which he first signs an SPC.Having signed his ELC with the Senators on May 30th, 2011 as a 20-year old, Silfverberg would be a welcome addition to one of Ottawa's lineup. Obviously the decision won't be made unilaterally though. For the Senators' prospect to play, he's going to have to want to go and per @steffeG, he's going to have to have the permission of the Sweden's hockey federation.
Watch Out Massholes
Residing only one point back of the Northeast leading Bruins, the Ottawa Senators have caught the attention of their division rivals and it's not just because they enviably feature two competent netminders who they can now rely on to spell Craig Anderson.
Since the moment the first puck was dropped to signify the start to their season, the expectations for the Senators' season have changed. From self-defeating Fail for Nail campaign to thinking "Shit, look at these third period comebacks! These kids never give up! So long as they're entertaining, I can live with this!", the outlook for this team just keeps improving.
Now with the team on the verge of clinching a playoff berth, the prospect of having to a play a team like the Bruins in the first round just not seem as daunting as it once did.
For most of the season, the defending Stanley Cup Champions were in a class of the East but having gone 5-8-1 in their past 14 - including a 1-0 loss to the Senators - the Bruins are at risk of slipping losing their Northeast Division Crown to the Senators. Naturally, the fact that Tim Thomas has been channeling his inner Alex Auld of late has helped soothe the mind. Coupled with Tuuka Rask's ill-timed groin/abdominal injury, in many ways, Ottawa's very well situated for this stretch run.
In one of Joe Haggerty's recent entries for Bruins Talk, he examines the pressure that is on the Bruins to retain the second seed in Eastern Conference.
Per David Krejci:
“We just need to play to win and if we do that then we’ll get the results. Everybody is looking at the standings. Everybody knows that Ottawa is right behind us and we need to win some games. We need to keep our position in the standings.”And head coach Claude Julien:
“It’s always easier to manage when you’re playing well and days off are the norm. When you’re struggling a little bit and playing .500 hockey it makes a coach’s job tougher because you’re wondering if you should work on things or get some rest. At a certain point we decided if we wanted to have a chance it’s going to be rest even with the injuries and new players added to our lineup.
“Right now we’re in a mode where we have to manage to keep our position in second place [in the East]. We’ve got Ottawa breathing down our necks and we know that. If we can manage to get through that and get some healthy bodies back come playoff-time then I think we’ll really have accomplished something. That’s all we can do right now: hold onto that playoff spot and hope our guys are healthy when we get there.”If Boston wants to treat Ottawa as an imminent threat and use their succuss as some motivating factor, then everyone in Ottawa should be wildly optimistic. Even in the event that Ottawa can't catch the Bruins, provided that the team can continue to push Boston and force Julien to dress Tim Thomas in as many games as possible, it bodes well. Now should Thomas continue to stutter with this increased workload, who the fuck wouldn't want to see Marty Turco play in some meaningful games down the stretch?