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Players learned to trust MacLean

The Sports Xchange
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--Coach Paul MacLean referred to them as "the touchdown games." But after embarrassing back-to-back home losses of 7-1 and 7-2 to Colorado and Philadelphia in October, the Senators climbed on board with what he was preaching.

"That's really when everything came together as far as the coaching staff and the players," MacLean said. "The team figured we had to find an identity. We were searching for what we were going to be."

What they became was a harder-working team that reeled off six straight wins and put some stock to the "Believe It" slogan the front office staff drew up for the 2011-12 campaign. Going forward, the players now believe that if they do things the way MacLean wants them done, they can compete with anyone.

--RW Daniel Alfredsson bounced back from back surgery to have a stellar season with 27 goals and 32 assists for 59 points. The big question now: Will he come back for more?

At 39 years of age, the NHL's longest-serving captain is the franchise leader in just about every offensive category and no one doubts he still has plenty in the tank. But after 16 seasons, Alfredsson is also wondering if he has the desire to put himself through another rigorous offseason training program and an 82-game schedule. Management is hopeful he returns, as are his teammates.

"I just might force him to come back for one more year," said Chris Neil, the Senators' all-time leader in penalty minutes. "Alf was awesome all year. As everyone else could see, he was still an elite player in the league."

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Don't pick us to win the Stanley Cup next season. Pick us to finish last. We really like your predictions." -- GM Bryan Murray, in his season-ending address to the media, referring to the fact that many pre-season prognosticators had the Senators winding up 15th in the Eastern Conference.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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