Off the Draw: Alfredsson not a Hall of Famer; weekend matchups
Someday, probably early next season, Daniel Alfredsson’s career will be celebrated with the raising of his No. 11 to the rafters of the Canadian Tire Center. It’ll offer Senators fans one last chance to honor the man who represented their city and their team so honorably over 16 of his 17 NHL seasons.
And that’s where the accolades should end.
Alfredsson’s memorable return to Ottawa on Thursday night sparked discussion not only of his place in the history of both the Senators franchise -- he is their greatest player, without a doubtand Swedish hockey (he’s top-10, for sure). It also brought up his viability as a candidate for the Hockey Hall of Fame. That’s to be expected at a time like this. Everyone’s overwhelmed by the warm fuzzies after seeing bridges mended between the former captain and the team after their acrimonious split in the summer of 2013. The good times look even better in the wake of a happy reunion.
But once emotion is removed from the equation, Alfie seems destined to be remembered simply as one of the very goods rather than one of the alltime greats.
Sure, he was a great player at times -- the run-up to the 2007 Stanley Cup finals appearance comes to mind, or his performance for gold-medal winning Sweden at the 2006 Olympics -- but his career lacks the moments and milestones that define a Hall of Famer.
On the plus side of Alfredsson’s ledger is the Calder Trophy he won in 1996 and the second-team All-Star honor he earned in 2006. He also topped 1,000 career points in 2010, becoming the 75th player to do so, with a hat trick against the Sabres. But he blends into the scenery when stacked up against his contemporaries. Alfredsson cracked the top-10 in points just three times in 17 seasons, finishing fifth with a career-best 103 points in ’05–06. That was also one of three seasons that he finished among the top-10 goals scorers, and one of just two in which he reached 40 goals. Only once did he rank among the top 10 in assists.
More telling is how little consideration he received for the Hart Trophy over his career. Only one player can take home the MVP every year, but the greats work their way into the conversation on a consistent basis. Alfredsson managed to land among the top 20 in the voting just four times: He finished fifth in 2006, 16th in ’07 and ’08, and 17th in ’04. Alfredsson’s chances dim even more when you compare him to another HOF outsider, Eric Lindros, who finished in the top 10 of the voting for MVP five times -- winning once -- in seven seasons before injuries curtailed his effectiveness.
Alfredsson's legacy is a good one -- one that won’t be tarnished by the lack of a Hall pass.
What you may have missed
Daniel Alfredsson took one last spin with the Senators in warmups before calling it a career.
Games to watch this weekend
Watch this one for a lesson in execution.
Chicago is a buzz saw right now, the winner of four straight and nine of the last 11. The Blackhawks thumped a trio of high-end rivals in their most recent starts, beating the Ducks, the Kings and St. Louis by identical 4–1 scores. And they waxed Montreal 5–0 when the two last met in the Bell Centre back on Nov 4. Chicago is a great team in top gear.
“We've been playing the right way, particularly lately,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We have way more pace to our game. Way more directness, way more consistency, better thought process. Everybody’s excited right now. We got some momentum and everybody’s having fun with it.”
For the Canadiens to have a chance, they’ll need to be able to contain the hottest line in hockey. Patrick Kane scored twice on Wednesday against the Blues and now has eight goals and 15 points in his last nine games. Kris Versteeg has 14 points in eight games, and Brad Richards has five in his last three. All three players scored against Montreal goalie Carey Price in their last meeting.
This one could be a shootin’ gallery.
Columbus has been a disaster in its own zone and brutal on the draw of late, ceding puck possession to the opposition for long stretches. That was particularly apparent Thursday against the Panthers, when the Jackets allowed a franchise-record 55 shots before pulling out a 4–3 win in the shootout. Sergei Bobrovsky set a franchise mark with his 52 saves, but he may have to top that for Columbus to stay with a Tampa Bay team that just blitzed red-hot Buffalo 5–0.
The Lightning, the league’s highest-scoring team, brought its A-game against the Sabres on Thursday night. The Bolts were possession monsters, holding Buffalo without a shot for nearly 22 minutes in the first and second periods. Steven Stamkos chipped in with a goal and two assists to pull within one point of Sidney Crosby and Jakub Voracek for the NHL scoring lead. Given the kind of space and time Stamkos will have against the Blue Jackets, he could take control of the race.
Rest of the schedule: Senators at Penguins (1 p.m. EST, RDS, TSN5, ROOT); Blues at Islanders (1 p.m. EST, FS-MW, MSG+); Flyers at Kings (4 p.m. EST, SN, TVA2, CSN-PH, FS-W); Canucks at Maple Leafs (7 p.m. EST, CBC); Rangers at Red Wings (7 p.m. EST, NHLN-US, SN, MSG, FS-D); Sabres at Panthers (7 p.m. EST, MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-F); Capitals at Devils (7 p.m. EST, CSN-DC, MSG+); Blackhawks at Predators (7 p.m. EST, FX-CA, CSN-CH, FS-TN); Canadiens at Stars (7 p.m. EST, TVA, CITY, FS-SW); Bruins at Coyotes (8 p.m. EST, NESN, FS-A); Sharks at Flames (10 p.m. EST, CBC, CSN-CA)
Sharks at Oilers, 9:00 EST (CSN-CA, SNW)
We don’t know now what Edmonton will look like come Sunday night. Will there be a new coach behind the bench? Will there be new faces in the lineup? But we do know this: The Oilers will come into this game with the baggage of a soul-crushing 11-game losing streak.
What’s so appealing, then, about watching this team? At some point the streak will come to an end (even the 1980–81 Jets won a game eventually) and that will make for one glorious night. Will it happen on Sunday, or will the game be another in a series of epic bed-wettings that have become the trademark of this franchise?
They’ll be in tough against San Jose, which ripped Boston's defense to shreds on Thursday night. The Sharks took 44 shots and beat Vezina-winner Tuukka Rask for a season-high seven goals. Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels each had a pair of goals in the victory.
Rest of the schedule: Ducks at Jets (3 p.m. EST, PRIME, TSN3); Red Wings at Hurricanes (5 p.m. EST, FS-D+, FS-CR); Canucks at Senators (7 p.m. EST, NHLN-US, TVA, CITY)
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