April 12, 2014 at 1:00 am

John Niyo

Wings' Daniel Alfredsson gambles on move in pursuit of elusive Stanley Cup

Detroit This was a selfish move. Daniel Alfredsson admitted that from the start.

And oddly enough, the one guy who had nothing to do with the Red Wings prized playoff streak was among the most relieved when it was extended earlier this week.

Because what comes next is what this is all about. Its why hes here.

Thats what you play for, to get into the playoffs, said Alfredsson, who signed with Detroit last summer after spending the first 17 seasons of his NHL career in Ottawa. I played a long time in this league and played a lot of playoff games, but I havent won the Stanley Cup. And thats what you dream about. Thats the only reason Im still playing, I guess.

And I guess its fair to say its showing, as Alfredssons contributions down the stretch even in a lesser role, with a wonky back and aging legs helped push the Wings over the hump.

Before Friday nights lackluster effort against Carolina a 2-1 loss that makes a daunting first-round date with top seed Boston more likely the 41-year-old Alfredsson had points in five of his last six games, including last weeks winner at home against Buffalo.

Using his head

He couldve easily added a few more points Friday, testing Cam Ward with a quick flick of the wrist in the second period and setting up Tomas Jurco and Pavel Datsyuk on mini-breakaways. And after teaming with Jurco and Darren Helm all week in a new line combination paired with their speed, Alfie gets to use his skill set, which is his brain, coach Mike Babcock explained the veteran winger was shifted to Datsyuks line for the third period in this one.

(Alfredsson) is just so good with the puck, said Jurco, who assisted on fellow rookie Riley Sheahans power-play goal in the second period. Hes really smart. Hes got so much confidence and he makes plays. It just seems like hes got more time with the puck than everybody else.

It might seem that way, but Alfredsson knows he has precious little time left in his career.

He is one of four active NHL players over the age of 40, and one of three thatll be in the playoffs, along with Anaheims Teemu Selanne and Dallas' Ray Whitney. (New Jerseys Jaromir Jagr is the other member of the over-the-hill gang.)

Thisll be Alfredssons 15th trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and possibly his last. He signed only a one-year deal with the Wings last summer, though if hes willing, Detroits open to one more season after this.

And yet on this injury-plagued roster, only two forwards (Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Tatar) will have played more games for the Wings this season. That has made his veteran presence all the more valuable, particularly with Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg missing so much time.

He speaks up when he needs to, said Franzen, a fellow Swede who compared Alfredssons presence this year to Dallas Drakes last-gasp Stanley Cup push when the Wings won it all in 2008. Hes good like that. Hes not the guy whos going to sit there and throw out clichs all night long. But if someone needs to step up and say something, hes been doing it.

Defenseman Brendan Smith calls it a huge bonus for the Wings younger set, players that can easily lose themselves in the energy of a game and lose sight of the details.

A lot of times its just little things that were not thinking about, Smith said. Sometimes its about turnovers at our blue line. Or maybe hell notice something about the goalie that nobody else will notice. Or talking about a D-man whos having a rough night, telling guys to take him wide. Just stuff like that.

Family time

Stuff like thatll come in handy in a seven-game playoff series. As will that right-hand shot that has produced 18 goals this season, including back-to-back winners against Toronto and Pittsburgh three weeks ago that sparked the Wings late charge.

But stuff like this helps put it all in perspective, too.

Alfredsson uprooted his family wife Bibbi and sons Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William, not to mention dog Bono and put them up in a hotel for their first month in Detroit, before settling in their new house here.

Jurco, meanwhile, got the call-up from Grand Rapids in mid-December, figured he might not stay past New Years, then ended up lasting the entire season. Of course, being a young bachelor, he didnt see the reason to move out of his downtown hotel. He has a big room I actually have two rooms connected, he said and all the necessities a 21-year-old needs.

I mean, I brought my Xbox and they brought a huge TV for me and I just set it up right in front of my bed, Jurco said.

And besides, he added, Its just nice to leave for a practice and I get back and my bed is set up nicely. I like that the most.

Its an odd mix, all right. Young and old, eager and desperate. But together, theyve made it this far.

We knew it was gonna be tough, said Alfredsson, who compares it to the shorthanded push his Senators made to get in the playoffs last spring. But if you get something going and you get a good feeling in the locker room, you can accomplish a lot of things. And I think thats what weve done.

Now, unlike his former team, they get to do it a little longer. And selfishly, he couldnt be happier about it.


Detroit's Daniel Alfredsson tries to get the puck away from Carolina's Justin Faulk, left, and Riley Nash in the third period. / David Guralnick / Detroit News