The Alfredsson Effect
Everything Daniel Alfredsson touches turns to gold... when it comes to the Ottawa Senators that is. That's the theory now after his presence at Game 5 in Montreal inspired the young Senators to put a thrashing on the home team in their second do-or-die game of this raucous playoff series.
The Habs had a golden opportunity to put an end to Ottawa's dreams at home in front of another sold out crowd. But, instead of taking advantage of home ice, the Canadiens came out flat in Game 5, allowing an inspired Senators team to thoroughly defeat them in all aspects of the game on the ice, if not on the stats sheet.
Craig Anderson came up big again stopping 45 of 46 shots, holding the fort when called upon and showing everyone that he's back in true form, just in the nick of time. Even perma-slumping Bobby Ryan marked up the score sheet, notching two goals against the Habs and one against his own team, deflecting the puck past Anderson early in the third. Fortunately it didn't phase Anderson and didn't impact the end result.
But, it was the man off the ice--the bringer of rain--Daniel Alfredsson, the Ottawa Senators living Hockey God, whose very presence at Game 5 helped lift spirits in the dressing room and around the Nation's Capital every time he was shown with Sens General Manager Bryan Murray.
Spontaneous chants of "Alfie, Alfie, Alfie" erupted from the partisan crowd watching the game at Hooley's on Elgin street as I'm sure it did in the hearts and minds of all Sens fans watching the game Friday night. It's hard to imagine any one person capturing the heart of an entire city, but it's happened in Ottawa with our beloved son Daniel Alfredsson.
The Sens magical season began with the return of their hero for a mid-season match-up vs. the Islanders in early December. His 1-year stint in Detroit behind him, Alfredsson accepted the Sens apology and signed a 1-day contract so he could retire an Ottawa Senator. This simple act healed the wound of his abrupt departure and put an end to the curse that had beset the team as a result. Two days after his return, Sens coach Paul Maclean was fired, putting an end to psychological games that cost the Senators two captains in two years. And, setting the stage for a more Alfreddson-like coach to be hired, in the form of Dave Cameron.
It's hard to forget the look of Karrlsson's face the day Alfie returned. It was as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. The fact that Paul MacLean's coaching stint in Ottawa ended when Alfie and Karlsson were reunited is not a coincidence I'm willing to accept.
Four months later, the Sens are a completely different team. Playing with the same fire, determination and quiet confidence their former captain displayed every time he hit the ice. Their great push to the playoffs set new records and established this team as 'special'. 'Special' in the way the Sens have maximized the potential of their young players. 'Special' in the way they have come together to achieve something memorable. 'Special' in the way they never give up--something Daniel Alfredsson keenly remarked upon after Ottawa's big win in Game 5. And, 'special' in the way their effort and subsequent results have captured the City's hearts, once again.
True to form, Alfredsson's endorsement of Mark Stone for Rookie of the Year honours has lead to Stone's nomination for the award. Of course Stone's play is the reason for his inclusion, but Alfredsson's offer to give Stone his Rookie of the year award couldn't have hurt. If TSN analyst Bob Mackenzie's switch of support from Gaudreau to Stone is any indication, it looks like Mark Stone will become Ottawa's second Rookie of the Year.
Despite tough competition, it's an honour Stone thoroughly deserves, but also one he would never have been considered for, had he not been part of the Sens great resurrection. A resurrection that began with Alfredsson's return to Ottawa.
Make no mistake, while he may not be on the ice any longer, nor the Sens captain, Daniel Alfredsson's influence and his effect on the Sens organization and its fan base is clear for all to see.