Neil OK for playoffs: MacLean

Ottawa Senator Chris Neil shown here during practice at Scotiabank Place. Wednesday April 4,2012....

Ottawa Senator Chris Neil shown here during practice at Scotiabank Place. Wednesday April 4,2012. (QMI Agency/Errol McGihon)

Don Brennan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:47 PM ET

SHORT HILLS, N.J. -- Good news greeted the Senators Saturday morning.

Tough guy Chris Neil, who had crashed hard into the boards during practice in Ottawa the day before, should be good to go for the Game 1 of the playoffs.

"At this point there's nothing to be concerned about," coach Paul MacLean said in the lobby of the team's hotel in New Jersey, just a few hour before the Senators take on the Devils in the regular season finale.

"At this point (Neil's availability) is not supposed to be in jeopardy.

"He went into the boards hard, but he's a pretty hard guy," add MacLean.

"We don't anticipate any issue with it at this point.

"At this point there's nothing that would concern us for next week."

Neil, who did not make the trip, will be replaced by Kaspars Daugavins in Saturday's 3 p.m. start at the Prudential Center.

Defenceman Matt Gilroy also draws into the lineup, replacing Matt Carkner, while Ben Bishop will serve as Craig Anderson's backup in goal.

Minus Neil, the Senators will be missing their top enforcer against the Devils.

MacLean's decision to make healthy scratches of Carkner and Zenon Konopka indicate he's not expecting any shenanigans.

Because the Devils have sixth place locked up, and the Senators say they don't care which of the Boston Bruins or the New York Rangers they meet in the first round, both teams will just want to get through this game without suffering any injuries.

Winning will be secondary.

"Every game you play means something," said MacLean.

"It's an accomplishment that some players are going to play 82 games, or 80 games or 81 games ...they can finish with a point or two more here or there that would be significant to them. There's always some importance to the game. But I think right now the focus has definitely shifted to next week, and I think that's not different for every team in the league."

Anything but a regulation time loss will mean the Senators automatically get the Bruins in Round 1.

For them to fall to eighth and a first round meeting with the Rangers, they have to lose in regulation while Washington beats New York Saturday night.

Ottawa could still finish seventh in Washington wins and Florida loses its game with Carolina in regulation.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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