Talks have intensified to get a deal done between the Senators and pending free-agent defenceman Chris Phillips before the weekend.
Proposals were being exchanged between Phillips' agent, Stacey McAlpine, and Senators contract negotiator Kevin Billet yesterday with the two sides realizing they either have to put a deal to bed before Ottawa completes the regular season against the Bruins Saturday or wait until June.
Senators GM John Muckler would love to announce a three-year deal with Phillips to keep him from going to unrestricted free agency on July 1, but the focus has to be on the playoffs after Saturday and these talks have been slow in progressing.
"I'm not sure what's going to happen. We're still talking and as I've always stated that's positive," said Phillips yesterday. "If nothing gets done, and they want to put it on hold, then that's fine with us as well. We're still going to have time after the season is over to get something done."
Of course, there's big risk involved if the Senators don't sign Phillips before the weekend. He could be one of the most valuable free agents on the market and might decide if these talks get to June, he may want to see what's out there.
That being said, Phillips has maintained his No. 1 priority is to stay with the Senators. That's why it makes sense for McAlpine and Billet to bear down to get a deal done so that the Senators can announce it before Monday.
PICTURE PROBLEMS: Senators VP of broadcasting Jim Steel said buyers of the pay-per-view broadcast of the club's 2-1 loss to the Devils on Tuesday experienced troubles because of "transmission" issues with the club's American-based provider Vyvx. The broadcast was off the air for the final four minutes of the second period and didn't return until late in the intermission. Steel said there was nothing satellite providers with Rogers, Bell ExpressVu and Star Choice could do about the interruption. "There was a network card failure in Chicago and we weren't the only broadcast that was affected by this. There were other sports, including Major League Baseball, that lost their transmissions as well," said Steel, who is still waiting for a complete explanation. "It's unfortunate that this happened during a pay-per-view broadcast. But the same thing would have happened if this was an A-Channel broadcast or a TSN national game. Fortunately, the interruption was only four minutes of actual playing time and there were no goals scored." Steel said the club has been pleased with the response to its five pay-per-view broadcasts this season. "I haven't seen the numbers from (Tuesday), but even if we had no viewers (against the Devils), we have already exceeded our expectations," said Steel.
THE INJURY REPORT: Senators RW Patrick Eaves isn't sure if he's going to be in the lineup tonight against the Penguins. He took a shot from teammate Christoph Schubert in the groin area last Tuesday against the Bruins and has missed the three games since. Eaves was on the ice yesterday, but he was in pain. "It's just uncomfortable," said Eaves. "It's a sensitive area. There's a nerve there and it was just bad luck. We'll see how it feels (today). Obviously, I want to get back in there. I've had good days and bad days and hopefully (today) is a good one." D Wade Redden, who took a shot against the Devils, and captain Daniel Alfredsson were both given the day off. Coach Bryan Murray said they will play.
OFF THE GLASS: The Senators have a 2-6 record in shootouts this season and they're 4-13 lifetime. "In a game like (Tuesday night against New Jersey), where the building is kind of empty, it's good for the game," said Alfredsson. "Look at the weekend, it might decide who is going to make the playoffs and who won't."