Instead, he’s got a chance to finish with 70 points for the 10th time in 11 years and says he hears about his production all the time, “mostly, when you’re out and about in Ottawa, with the younger crowd. The older crowd doesn’t do it much, but the younger crowd does. It’s all about the fantasy - and the betting. Sometimes, it becomes a little bit skewed. It’s too much the statistics behind the way you play. But it’s something, as you get a little older, I’ve been around a long time in the league, so you know when you’re playing good or not.”
What the older crowd does like celebrate is that players such as himself and Selanne and Lidstrom are striking a blow for the Zoomer generation, in an era when youngsters are so celebrated and coveted by teams.
“It becomes a challenge,” acknowledged Alfredsson. “You break into the league, you have to prove yourself. Then you have to prove yourself again - that you are an elite player, over many years. Then when you get older, you got to prove that you can keep up with the young guys again. So it never ends. I think that’s what it is to be a pro athlete, that challenge, to always strive to be better all the time, and never be satisfied. That’s what drives me. I can tell you that’s what drives Teemu and Lidstrom as well. Don’t just go out there and go through the motions because that’s not how we function. That’s not in our DNA. It’s fun to try to keep up with the young kids - and show them once again that you still can.”
As for his health, Alfredsson says that’s the single biggest difference between last year and this year: “I’ve been struggling the last few years with my skating. Today, I felt really strong on the puck and in the battles. That’s what I enjoy. You can forecheck, you can backcheck, you can do everything. last year, obviously, I had my questions. Is this it? I can’t go on like this. If the surgery hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
CHI TIME: Vancouver’s rivalry with Boston is second only to Vancouver’s rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks, and both can be traced back to great recent playoff series. After the all-star break, the Blackhakws embark on a massive three-week road trip that starts Tuesday in Vancouver which could make or break their attempts to win the West this year.
Chicago plays, in order, the Canucks, Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado, San Jose, Phoenix, Nashville, the Rangers and Columbus (on a Saturday afternoon) before finally returning home for a Sunday afternoon date with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 19. In all, 20 of their final 32 games are away from the United Centre, and they go into the break without two of their top forwards, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, both out with wrist injuries, though both are expected back at some point on the Western Canada swing of the trip, good news considering how much Toews, an MVP candidate, has meant to their success this year.
AND FINALLY: After playing just 60 and 62 games the last two years, and scoring 57 points in each of them, the Senators’ Jason Spezza is healthy and having a productive season, even with that nasty looking black eye. Surprisingly, Spezza has only played in one All-Star Game in eight years, which is another reason he is looking forward to this one, one that’s being played so close to home. Thankfully, as Sens fans booed all things related to Toronto during the televised fantasy draft, they developed amnesia about Spezza’s birthplace.
“I’ll have a lot more people in town than I normally would,” said Spezza, “so it’s extra special this year with family and friends. It’s real close to home for me, so I can get everybody down - and that’ll probably never happen again, so it’s a good opportunity to include everybody; and the city’s really excited about it. It’s a great hockey town.
“Maybe having it in a Canadian city, it’ll be more appreciated than when it’s in other places that maybe don’t understand the relevance of the game. Nobody’s expecting an intense game. They’re just excited to see all the stars and to interact with them.”