CALGARY — The Senators headed west without Chris Neil.
The Senators winger, troubled by an ankle injury he suffered after getting kneed by Rangers winger Brandon Dubinsky on Wednesday, has been placed on injured reserve by the club and there’s no timetable for his return.
The decision by GM Bryan Murray to place Neil on IR means he won’t be eligible to return until at least Thursday against the Oilers in Edmonton.
The fact Neil didn’t make the trip means it’s likely the club won’t see him at all until the team heads home after next Sunday’s game in Vancouver.
An ankle sprain is difficult to predict. There have been cases where they’ve taken longer to heal than a full break.
Neil, 32, has been one of the club’s best performers this season with three goals and four assists in 16 games. He’s been strong physically, a force most nights and has tried to help lead by example with the Senators in rebuilding mode.
“He’s always a guy looking to catch you with your head down and looking for that big hit. He’s a big loss,” said centre Jason Spezza. “We’re going to be without him here for a little bit, so we have to make sure that other guys are stepping up.
“We have other physical guys. Our team is a lot different than how we’ve been in the past. Physicality is one of our stronger points, I think. We have to use that.”