December 3, 2011
Chris Neil returns to lineup versus Caps
By Don Brennan, QMI Agency
WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals will wake up Sunday morning with more bruises than they originally anticipated, as Chris Neil is making his return to the Senators lineup after a nine-game absence.
As of his morning media briefing, Ottawa coach Paul MacLean wasn’t sure of which player he’d be sitting in the pressbox as a healthy scratch to make room for Neil.
Entering the weekend’s action, the Senators were tied for sixth in the “hits” category, and that’s without Neil in their lineup for almost a month.
Despite being out since Nov. 9, the veteran right winger is still fourth on the team with 51 hits.
“His physicality, I think has been missed in part of the games,” MacLean said of Neil, who was out with a sprained ankle.
“He leads us in finished checks most games that he plays.”
The team didn’t skate Saturday morning, but judging by Friday’s practice Bobby Butler will come out of the lineup and Neil will work on a line with Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka.
MacLean could decide to sit Konopka if he feels the Senators need more offence, as Butler is more of a natural scorer. But Konopka has been the bigger contributor of the two in recent games.
Defenceman Filip Kuba will miss his second game with an upper body injury.
At Verizon Center, the Senators will be trying to hold onto eighth place in the tight Eastern Conference.
They currently are one point up on Washington, New Jersey and Montreal, and two ahead of Tampa and Winnipeg.