You can never accuse Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson for not having a flair for the dramatic.
Alfredsson’s Ottawa team is on home ice tonight with a chance to finish off the top seeded New York Rangers and after missing the last three games with a concussion, Alfie will be in the lineup tonight to help his team try to end the series.
Alfredsson missed the last three games thanks to the elbow to the head he received from Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. Coincidentally enough, Hagelin will be back in the Rangers lineup tonight after serving his three-game suspension.
In the two games Alfredsson has played, he has a goal and no assists. The stats may not be there in that small sample size, but his presence is huge for Ottawa. Expect things to be even crazier in Kanata with Alfredsson back in action. A tough road for the Rangers just got that much more difficult.
While the Chicago Blackhawks closed out the season without the services of captain Jonathan Toews, things are shaping up so Toews might just be ready to go for Game 1 against Phoenix.
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger reports Toews took line rushes with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa at this morning’s practice in Chicago. It’s the first time Toews has taken line rushes since going out of the lineup with a concussion. Toews also worked on the first power play unit and all signs seem to point toward Toews being cleared for game action soon.
The curious part of Toews recovery from a concussion is how it’s been handled. Just last week Toews talked about how he was having symptoms causing many to wonder if he was actually further off from returning than previously thought. With today’s developments, it’s hard to imagine that Toews won’t be ready to go against Phoenix for Game 1 on Thursday.
Update (via CSNChicago.com):
Toews spoke to reporters after practice and, while he didn’t fully commit to playing Thursday, he seems to be leaning towards it.
“We wanted to err on the cautious side by me not playing (at the end of the regular season). I’m feeling more confident that Thursday might be the day but we’ll see when that time comes,” said Toews. “Whenever I come back, I’ll definitely want to keep it simple and go out and play a gritty game. The key is not trying to do too much.”
Finally some good news for the Chicago Blackhawks regarding Jonathan Toews.
Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com reports Hawks coach Joel Quenneville believes Toews has been cleared for contact. While the Blackhawks are on the road in Nashville, Toews stayed back in Chicago to do more skating.
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane tells Myers he can’t wait for the team to clinch a playoff spot and be fully loaded again.
“It’s going to be nice, for sure, when we do clinch a spot,” Patrick Kane said. “It’ll be nice when that happens, and even nicer tonight knowing we have some of our best players hopefully coming back in the net few games; and we can keep getting better as a team and not worry about clinching a spot.”
The Blackhawks have done just fine without Toews, but getting their best centerman back from a concussion will be a huge lift for the team. With Toews out, the Blackhawks have had to rely heavier on Dave Bolland and occasionally Marcus Kruger and Brendan Morrison as well. There have been spurts of solid play from them, when they’re not hurt, but they don’t compare with Toews.
Just what the Western Conference playoffs needed, another solid team getting healthy.