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Yashin showing more Hart than anyone expected // Ottawa Sun
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun
Once roasted in Ottawa, Alexei Yashin is now being toasted about town.
After sitting out last season in a contract dispute with the Senators, the two-time all-star centre has skated out of the fans' bad books in the last eight months and into their hearts.
The 27-year-old Yashin has emerged as one of the NHL's best players as the Senators hold down top spot in the Eastern Conference with 17 games remaining in the regular season.
Yashin's 21 goals and 17 assists in his last 26 games had him tied for sixth in NHL scoring at 71 points with Florida's Pavel Bure, Boston's Jason Allison and Colorado's Peter Forsberg heading into last night's play.
His inspired play has made those around him better, too, yet nobody has mentioned Yashin for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP.
"He's been one of the most dominant players in the league in the last two months," captain Daniel Alfredsson said yesterday. "The big thing we've gotten from him is consistency.
"He's working hard and he's making things happen. When you have a player like that playing that way, it makes the rest of the team better. He's worked hard all year.
"These were tough circumstances for him to come back to, but that's all behind him. He's been outstanding."
Yashin, who reluctantly returned to the team, promised at the start of the season he would set his contract squabble aside and focus on helping the club win.
That's exactly what he's done.
For a guy who supposedly didn't want to be in Ottawa and was criticized heavily for his stance, he looks content in the dressing room and on the ice.
And he's taking the success in stride.
"What is playing well? I don't know. To me it goes up and down. I just try to help the team win," Yashin said yesterday before the team's flight to New Jersey was cancelled.
His role has been expanded. Not only does he take his regular shift and play on the power play, but he's got the added responsibility of killing penalties and he's done a good job under assistant coach Perry Pearn's tutelage.
Working with Andreas Dackell, Yashin has been on the ice for only one goal against since he started killing penalties. He also took a pass from Dackell in Toronto Saturday to score the club's ninth short-handed goal of the season.
"It's helped me because when I'm killing penalties, I don't miss a shift," said Yashin. "That keeps me in the game."
And while Yashin has been in the game a lot, he hasn't forgotten that the last time he led the Senators into the playoffs, they were swept in the first round by the Sabres.
That's why he's trying to keep success in perspective. The road to respectability has steps along the way and the Senators are only in the first phase of what is going to be a long process if they're going to make it to June.
"The first goal is to make the playoffs and the second is to advance so that we can go as far as we can," said Yashin. "People want to know how the team is going to do in (the playoffs), but nobody can tell you that because nobody knows.
STEP AT A TIME
"We've got a good team here. But before we play in the playoffs, we've got a lot of work to do here. You have to take the season step by step and you have to make one step before you can worry about making the next one."
But the club's success has been helped a lot by the fact that Yashin
has stepped up his game.
Страничка Алексея Яшина на сайте
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