OTTAWA - The Senators may have suffered a significant loss at Friday’s practice.
During a shootout drill near the end of the session, right winger Chris Neil was making a nifty move when he appeared to trip over the pad of goalie Ben Bishop before crashing hard head and shoulder first into the end boards.
Neil was down on the Sensplex ice for minutes while being worked on by the training staff and surrounded by concerned coach Paul MacLean and about a dozen teammates.
Neil, who is having perhaps the best season of his career, was finally helped off the ice by Jason Spezza and Zack Smith.
Back at Scotiabank Place, coach Paul MacLean had no update on Neil’s condition, but said the veteran would now not be making the trip to New Jersey for Saturday afternoon’s regular season finale against the Devils.
“He’s going to stay here and we’ll evaluate him,” said MacLean.
“But it was a bit of a stumble.”
Asked what he saw from his viewpoint, MacLean’s response suggested the injury was not as serious as first feared.
“I didn’t see Pavel Datsyuk,” he said of the Detroit Red Wings star who is regarded as one of the best shootout players in the league.
By taking even one point against the red hot Devils, the Senators will secure seventh place and a first round playoff matchup with the Bruins.
A regulation time loss and a Washington win against the New York Rangers will drop the Senators to eighth and pit them against the Blueshirts.
Craig Anderson will start in goal against the Devils, who reportedly will go with Martin Brodeur between the pipes.
As of Friday MacLean had no plans to rest any of his regulars.