Phillips deal appears near

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Chris Phillips is ready to stay at home with the Senators.

Both sides are confident they will get a new contract completed before the veteran defenceman becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer because the Senators are aware he'd be one of the most valuable blueliners on the open market.

While there haven't been any discussions in the last week between Phillips' agent, Stacey McAlpine, and Senators contract negotiator Kevin Billet, the blueliner is confident a deal will get done. It's believed both sides would like it done before the playoffs.

"No timetable, but the way the discussions have been going, I think we'll be able to get something done," said Phillips yesterday. "The discussions have been good and they have been positive. I don't think there's been any indication from either side that anybody is upset or somebody doesn't like the way they're going.

"They've gone well."

Senators GM John Muckler echoed those sentiments when asked by the Sun where the negotiations stood.

"We feel that the discussions are going very well," said Muckler. "We'd like to get it done as soon as possible because we have to make plans and need an indication, too. We want him to play a part in it. He's having a great year and he's been a major part of it. We want him to stay here. I get the indication he wants to stay, too.

"As I told (Phillips), if he wants to stay, we want him, so let's get it done. That's usually what happens when two people want the same thing."

SHUFFLING THE DECK: The Senators will be making lineup changes tonight against the Blues at the Scottrade Center. While Murray wasn't going to give any names, he admitted a couple of players are "banged

up" and he might keep them out to get rested and ready for the playoffs. It should be noted captain Daniel Alfredsson didn't take part in the 45-minute workout in Pittsburgh before the club's 90-minute flight here because of "soreness", but there was also a significant change on the lines. C Mike Comrie, who has struggled to keep his ice time in the last month, was placed on the right side of Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. RW Patrick Eaves was with a fourth line that included Oleg Saprykin and Dean McAmmond. D Christoph Schubert was on the blue line and it's not known whether he'll even play. "Saprykin will go in and I'm not absolutely certain who will come out," said Murray. "We've got a couple of guys with bumps and we're just going to have to see."

AROUND THE BOARDS: G Martin Gerber will make the start against the Blues. It will be his second appearance in net in three games and Murray believes Gerber deserves the time. "I think he's given us a chance to win each night he's played lately," said Murray. "The way he's played and practised, he deserves to play another game here and we're going to go back with him." ... The Penguins aren't convinced they're going to play the Senators in the first round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh is still trying to catch the struggling New Jersey Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division and that race could go right to the wire. "There aren't too many teams close to us, so that's probably one of the teams that we'll end up playing," said Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu about the Senators. "But we'll see. We might even catch New Jersey. Who knows?" ... Muckler has been impressed with the play of G Ray Emery, but understands the pressure will intensify in the post-season. "Ray has had an outstanding year, but now we're going into Phase II and everybody has to prove themselves in the playoffs. I have no doubt in my mind he will. He's had a real good year," said Muckler ... The Senators would like home-ice advantage in the playoffs and that's what they'll be battling for in the final nine games of the regular season. "Going into a series, I don't know that it matters a great deal, but if there's a Game 7, you'd like to have it in your own building. Based on that, it's probably quite important," said Murray.


Videos

Photos