Neil can't skate around injury

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

The news is both good and bad for Senators winger Chris Neil.

It might sound funny to say it, but the good news is a cut to his right calf should only keep him out of the lineup for about two weeks, by his estimation. When he hobbled off the ice after hitting Sabres defenceman Teppo Numminen on Saturday night, it looked like the winger might have re-injured his right knee and been lost for much longer.

The bad news?

"There goes my calf modelling career," cracked Neil as he balanced on crutches in the Senators dressing room yesterday.

Neil said he didn't know how many stitches it took Dr. Don Chow to close the deep cut caused by Numminen's skate, which cut through skin and muscle.

"I was telling him to hurry up so I could get back in and go out and play, but he said, 'No, I don't think you'll be back tonight.' It was quite a few stitches," said Neil.

"I knew there was something wrong right away. It's pretty bad. All the guys were trying to get in and see it between periods. It was like a science experiment in there. It opened right up my whole calf and went through the muscle. Doc Chow did a great job, he was right on top of everything. Now it's just give it time to heal.

"As soon as I can get back, I will be back, that's just the way I am. It'll give a chance for the other stuff to heal, as well," said Neil.

Senators coach Cory Clouston moved Jarkko Ruutu up from the fourth line to take Neil's spot to the right of Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly in practice yesterday.

"(Neil) has been playing very well," said Clouston. "He's added a physical presence, (is) great on the forecheck and he's a character guy. This provides an opportunity for somebody else to step up."

Revelations

If Neil is out for just two weeks, he will be back and playing before the trade deadline, which is good news for the Senators. If the Senators can't sign the potential unrestricted free agent before March 4, he will be traded and his trade value would have been greatly diminished by a long-term injury. Rumours are the Sharks are interested. They had a scout at Saturday's game ... Ruutu said it doesn't matter to him where he fits into the lineup. "My role doesn't matter on who I'm playing with. It's the same," said the agitator. He seems to do it best against the Sabres, the Senators' opponent tomorrow night. You will remember Sabres W Adam Mair went down the hallway at HSBC Arena to the Ottawa dressing room looking for Ruutu earlier this season. The last game in Buffalo, Ruutu wound up being suspended for two games for biting the thumb of Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters in a scrum. Saturday night, Mair hammered Ruutu with a good check and a few shifts later, Ruutu returned the favour. Mair punched Ruutu on the play and received a penalty and the Senators opened the scoring on the power play. They wound up winning the game in a shootout. "I knew (Mair) was looking for me," said Ruutu. "I made sure on the next chance to try and get him going and he fell for it."

Hear and there

Senators veteran D Jason Smith was given a day off from practice yesterday, but is expected to play tomorrow night. "The old warrior has a few bumps and bruises," said Clouston ... F Shean Donovan was pretty confident he would be available to play tomorrow night. He's missed the last eight games with a leg injury he suffered when he crashed into the boards during the fastest-skater challenge at the Senators' skills competition ... D Alexandre Picard is close to returning from a hand injury he suffered against the Capitals on Feb. 1 when he was hit by Neil ... Clouston, who takes the Senators on his first road trip today, thought he was done with the crazy scheduling like he saw in the AHL. "It's not easy playing five games in seven nights. That seems to follow me around. I had had seven games in 10 nights down in Binghamton ... I come back here and get right into another one." Here's guessing the nice jet and five-star hotel rooms will be a little better than the "Iron Lung" in which the B-Sens travel.


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