The Sens’ one truly indispensable player, Daniel Alfredsson, is out with a broken jaw. He is expected to miss “at least a week to ten days.”
While I’ve been enjoying watching the team play well and the winning has been nice, I’ve never had any hope of the Sens making the playoffs — barring a huge miracle, that just isn’t going to happen — so this news doesn’t disappoint me from that perspective.
I’m not happy to see Alfie hurt by any means, but I am viewing this injury as an opportunity. It gives us a chance to find out whether Cory Clouston will turn out to be the coach who can finally make this team play without its captain. We all know the history: in past times without Alfie, the Sens have tended to collapse like … well, like themselves last season. Can Clouston make a difference? So far, he’s managed to use his mysterious Sens whisperer techniques to do what no coach has done before and get this team to play quite well for more than five consecutive games. I was starting to think that wasn’t possible. He’s been so successful that when the Penguins fired Michel Therrien earlier this week and promoted their AHL team’s head coach, I saw several people comment that the Pens were trying to “do an Ottawa” — possibly the first time that phrase has been used in a positive sense in over a year.
Creating and sustaining this surprising turnaround with Alfie in the lineup is a huge accomplishment for Clouston. Continuing to do it without Alfie would be just about enough to guarantee the removal of the word “Interim” from his title, in my opinion.