Sens' Neil feeling k-needy

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

As the rest of the Senators enjoyed a day off, Chris Neil was hard at work getting ready for his comeback.

Neil, who is recovering from a knee injury he suffered Feb. 21 against the Blue Jackets, was on the ice at Scotiabank Place yesterday with injured winger Cody Bass and Binghamton defenceman Brian Lee.

If Neil, who was expected to miss five weeks when he first suffered the injury, had his way he'd be back in the lineup Thursday against the Blues. Senators physician Dr. Don Chow, however, isn't ready to give the rugged winger medical clearance.

"He checked me out (yesterday) and everything is on schedule, so I said, 'That's great and asked (Chow) if I could play Thursday.' He said, 'Not yet,' " Neil said with a chuckle.

The timetable for Neil's return hasn't changed. He is scheduled to suit up for Ottawa's final three games, starting April 1 against Montreal.

Neil hopes to be cleared to practise later this week and if he's allowed to have contact, he could return next week.

But Neil isn't getting his hopes up because nobody has told him the schedule is any different.

"If I can get back to practising with the guys and getting physical contact, then I'll have a better idea of where I'm at. I feel great," said Neil. "I feel like I'm a little bit ahead of schedule and if that's the case, that's good for me.

"I'd definitely like to get back sooner, but that's not something that we have talked about at this point. I feel like I'm the kind of guy who heals pretty quickly and, hopefully, it's not going to be any different in this case."

The Senators would love to get Neil back early as every game he'd play would be against Northeast Division foes.

SOME REST

"We hope that by the end of the week, Chris Neil will be looking at a high level of conditioning," said Senators coach and GM Bryan Murray, who added that Neil's return may allow the team to rest some players.

Murray cautioned, however, that Ottawa would have to cement a post-season spot first.

"We have to be in the playoffs, comfortable in our position and then I would go to a couple of the veteran guys to see if they would like a game out," said Murray. "In particular, a road game, where they wouldn't have to make the trip or something and we could stick somebody in.

"But the way we're sitting right now, that's not likely happening."


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