Daniel Alfredsson's full circle; weekend games to watch; more
Off The Draw
“Coming to Ottawa with the family on Dec. 4th,” he wrote. “Looking forward to see everybody!”
Before anyone had time to figure out the meaning of his cryptic hashtag (#drycake), the long-time Senators captain confirmed with Swedish reporter Marie Lehmann that he will end his career in the city where it all began back in 1995.
“I'm glad to get it over with,” Alfredsson said. “Ottawa is the right place [to say farewell].”
It could be more than a simple sendoff to a career that saw him score 444 goals and 1,157 points, wear the captain's C longer than any European in NHL history and carve a path that leads directly to the Hall of Fame. Although nothing's been confirmed it's believed that Alfredsson's No. 11 could be raised to the rafters of the Canadian Tire Centre that night. It's also possible that the free agent winger will sign a one-day deal with the Senators, allowing him to retire wearing red and black.
That option appeared to be off the table two summers ago when Alfredsson did the unthinkable and bolted for Detroit in the wake of a bitter contract dispute. “I'm not worried about my legacy,” he said at the time. “This is the decision I make for myself, not for anybody else, and it's all about trying to get the Stanley Cup.”
That dream was derailed by injuries to key teammates, but his one season in Detroit was a solid success. He led the Red Wings in scoring despite playing just 68 games, and was eyeing a return until a summer away from the ice did little to relieve his lingering back issues.
Alfredsson missed training camp and then the first six weeks of the season while hoping to find enough pain relief to continue playing in Detroit. But with his 42nd birthday just days away, he finally came to terms with his situation. “All the setbacks this fall was a tough process mentally,” he said.
No doubt it was. But now he gets the chance to mend a few fences and find his way back to the organization where he spent 17 glorious seasons. Back where he belongs
Judging by the video above, the Sens can't wait to welcome him home:
What to watch this weekend
Rangers at Flyers (1 p.m. EST; NBC, SN)
The league is working hard to carve out Black Friday afternoon as another annual TV destination—hey, they even had a float in New York City's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to promote it and everything! Least we can do is give this one a shot then, eh?
The Flyers come in a hot mess, embroiled in a 1-5-1 skid that's seen them shut out twice and called out publicly by both GM Ron Hextall and head coach Craig Berube for their lack of compete. The top line and the goaltending have been fine, but there's no secondary scoring and the penalty kill has been a disaster. Philly is playing like a team that's waiting for something to happen. It might not have to wait much longer if it turns in another soft effort. There's lots of buzz about getting together with the Oilers on a deal that would shake up both struggling sides, and today's game could be the one that makes it happen.
Meanwhile the Rangers arrive with plenty to be thankful for. Captain Ryan McDonagh is expected to return to the lineup after spending a month rehabilitating a shoulder injury. The Blueshirts, who were 4-4-3 in his absence, clearly missed his steadying presence on the back end. They may also get Lee Stempniak back in the lineup. The winger is a game time decision. Backup goalie Cam Talbot is expected to get the start for New York, just a week removed from shutting out the Flyers in his last appearance.
Rest of the schedule: Blackhawks at Ducks (4 p.m. EST; NHLN-US; SN, WGN, PRIME); Islanders at Capitals (5 p.m. EST; MSG, CSN-DC); Jets at Bruins (7 p.m. EST; NHLN-US, TVA2, TSN3, NESN); Canadiens at Sabres (7 p.m. EST; RDS, SNE, MSG-B, BELL TV); Red Wings at Devils (7 p.m. EST; FS-D, MSG+); Hurricanes at Penguins (7 p.m. EST; FS-CR, ROOT); Canucks at Blue Jackets (7 p.m. EST; SNP, FS-O); Senators at Panthers (7:30 p.m. EST; RDS2, TSN5, FAS-F); Oilers at Blues (8 p.m. EST; SNW, FS-MW); Wild at Stars (8:30 p.m. EST; FS-N+, FS-SW+)
Blackhawks at Kings (10 p.m. EST; NHLN-US, SN, TVA2, WGN, FS-W)
A couple of terrific playoff matchups, including the 2014 Western Conference Final that saw the Kings upend the defending Stanley Cup champs on Alec Martinez's Game 7 OT winner, has turned Chicago vs. Los Angeles into one of the NHL's best, and most anticipated, rivalries. It's easy then to couch this one in terms of a preview of some future spring battle, but that's doing this game a disservice. Appreciate it for what it is: a match of skill on skill, strength against speed, and one that should see both teams bring out the best in the other.
The Hawks finally seem to have found a groove, coincidental no doubt to coach Joel Quenneville solidifying his lines. With three goals and 10 points in his past five games, Patrick Kane is playing his best hockey of the season, and Marian Hossa has emerged from his early slump to support Jonathan Toews with some solid work on the top line. The Kings were dominant in their last outing, dismantling the typically well-disciplined Minnesota Wild, 4-0. Backup goalie Martin Jones was excellent in that one, but it will be Jonathan Quick on nearly a week's rest getting the start against the Hawks. Should be a beauty.
Rest of the schedule: Flyers at Rangers (1 p.m. EST; CSN-PH; MSG); Capitals at Maple Leafs (7 p.m. EST; CBC, NHLN-US, CSN-DC); Sabres at Canadiens (7 p.m. EST; TVA, CITY, MSG-B); Senators at Lightning (7 p.m. EST; SN, SUN); Devils at Islanders (7 p.m. EST; MSG, MSG+); Penguins at Hurricanes (7 p.m. EST; ROOT, FS-CR); Blue Jackets at Predators (8 p.m. EST; FS-), FS-TN); Blues at Wild (8 p.m. EST; FX-CA, FS-MW, FS-N); Stars at Avalanche (9 p.m. EST; TXA 21, ALT); Flames at Coyotes (10 p.m. EST; CBC, FS-A); Ducks at Sharks (10:30 p.m. EST; KCOP-13, CSN-CA)
Canucks at Red Wings (2 p.m. EST; TVA, City, FS-D)
The only game of the day (is the NHL really that worried about the NFL?) sets up as a fairly decent matchup. The Canucks are coming off a solid 2-0 win over the Devils and former teammate Cory Schneider, who was outshone by Ryan Miller's 20-save performance. The Michigan native has had a rollercoaster season, but Miller is heading up of late, stopping 44 of the past 45 shots he's faced. Keep an eye on Bo Horvat in this one. The rookie center, who played his junior hockey just two hours away in London, Ontario, learned he'd be sticking with the club for the season earlier this week. He's proving his worth by playing a hard north-south game and dominating in the face-off circle. The Wings are hoping to keep Pavel Datsyuk healthy (he's back and playing on the third line) and Stephen Weiss hot. The center has three goals in his past two games after scoring just twice in 26 appearances last season.
What you may have missed
• Joffrey Lupul of the Maple Leafs was asked if he has a girlfriend. Awkwardness ensued.
• Future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur has dusted off his pads and is practicing with the Blues on a tryout basis.
• The league ordered Stars forward Ryan Garbutt to cool his heels in the press box for two games after he kneed Oilers star Taylor Hall. Jets forward Adam Lowry was given a game off for boarding Buffalo roughneck Patrick Kaleta.
The numbers game
• Going into Friday's action the Rangers had beaten the Flyers in 14 of their last 18 regular season meetings.
• The Lightning have set new franchise records for wins (15) and points (32) through the first 23 games of a season and have more regulation and overtime wins than any team in the NHL.
• Fun fact to know and tell: Blake Comeau is now the fourth player in Penguins history to cap a hat trick with a game-winner in overtime. The others? Jordan Staal (Feb. 10, 2007 at Toronto), Alex Kovalev (Feb. 10, 2001 against New Jersey) and Kevin Stevens (Jan. 11, 1994 vs. Boston; Nov. 13, 1991 vs. Edmonton).
• Stick with the Ottawa Senators or skate with Team Canada at the World Juniors? If only Curtis Lazar could be in two places at once.
• Jack Eichel has no secrets on the ice. Off it, though? The potential top pick in next summer's draft is a total mystery. Daniel Bruno decided to creep his social media history and came up with all kinds of gold.
• The Syrian Electronic Army, which apparently is a thing that actually exists, hacked the NHL's website on Thanksgiving. You win this round, Assad!
• So many NHL players give their time and money to help folks who truly need their assistance. Here's a great piece on how one player is quietly changing his community every day.