OTTAWA - The date of Chris Phillips’ 1,000th game has been put on hold indefinitely.
Scheduled to reach the milestone against St. Louis on Feb. 7 at Scotiabank Place, the veteran defenceman has become the latest in a long line of NHL players — and the fourth Ottawa player — to be sidelined with a concussion this season
Phillips suffered the head injury when he was elbowed by New Jersey’s Dainius Zubus during the second period of Ottawa’s 3-2 overtime win Monday. The 33-year-old will not suit up against Tampa Bay Thursday and is day-to-day.
“We’re going to have to go through the protocol,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said Wednesday. “It appears to be mild, so it depends on him.”
Like Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek, who both had concussions earlier this year, the Senators are hopeful Phillips won’t be out long. But, with the way head injuries are being handled, there is no timetable on his return.
He’ll have to resume off-ice physical activity before being allowed to skate on his own again. Once Phillips has reached that stage, he’ll then have to pass a baseline test and have contact in practice before playing again.
This is the second game in 10 days Phillips has been forced to sit out. He saw a streak of 311 straight games come to an end Dec. 27 when he couldn’t face the Montreal Canadiens due to an unrelated injury.
This is a big blow to the defence.
“He’s been really steady,” said MacLean. “At the start of the year, like everybody, we all had some struggles, but I think Chris has been a really steadying influence on our team and a major part of any success we’ve had in our own end.
“Defensively, he’s played really well. If he’s not playing, we’re going to miss him much like we did when (Filip) Kuba and (Sergei) Gonchar were out. I thought (Phillips) was stellar in his play when they were out. Anytime we’re missing a veteran player, it gives us concern.”
The task of shutting down Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and the Lightning will be more difficult. The Senators are fortunate they’ve got Gonchar — who has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury — ready to return.
GO WITH SIX D-MEN
MacLean said the club will go with six defencemen and no recall is planned. It’s doubtful Phillips will be ready for back-to-back games against Philadelphia this weekend.
If Phillips has any questions about concussions, all he has to do is ask Jesse Winchester, who has only resumed skating this week after getting nailed from behind by Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad on Dec. 20.
Winchester said he’s still not 100% and will miss his seventh straight game against the Bolts.
“I haven’t done a lot. I’ve been feeling better. Hopefully, I’m progressing,” said Winchester, who admitted he’s still foggy. “It’s just a weird feeling. I’m hoping that in a couple of more days I can get back with the team.
“There’s still some things I’m not comfortable with. I’ve had my head banged, but I’ve never experienced these kind of symptoms that have held me back for this long. I haven’t been able to do too much. At times, I feel good.”
Several NHLers have been sidelined with concussions. Here’s a partial list, with games lost this season.
JESSE WINCHESTER 6
MILAN MICHALEK 5
DANIEL ALFREDSSON 5
CHRIS PHILLIPS ?
SIDNEY CROSBY 31
RADEK MARTINEK 30
KRIS LETANG 14
SHEA WEBER 4
According to CBC.ca, the NHL has lost 584 man-games to head injuries this season.