Big loss for Devils, Elias is out

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Scott Gomez was unsure what he could and could not reveal about the status of his high-scoring winger after Thursday's morning skate.

"He has a bad case of the flu, it's just one of those things," Gomez said of Patrik Elias. "His immune system is probably a lot different than ours. He seems a little beaten."

Elias, who missed the first half of the 2005-06 season with hepatitis A, will sit out tonight's Game 1 of the Devils-Senators series, it was confirmed shortly after 11 a.m.

Gomez, who centres Elias and Brian Gionta on the Devils' top scoring EGG line, was unaware the news of Elias' absence would be released when he was talking to reporters.

He said he talked to Elias before the morning skate, but claimed he wasn't sure if Elias was at the New Jersey hotel the team is staying at during the playoffs.

"I don't know who is in the hotel, it's not like we're holding hands," Gomez said with a laugh. "It's not like, 'my wristband broke, I don't know who my partner is.' "

He did admit that the Devils aren't the same without Elias, who had a team high 69 points during the season and holds the franchise record for most playoff points with 101. He added seven, a goal and six assists, in the Devils' first-round disposal of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Hey, it's Patrik Elias. We need him," said Gomez. "We have to move forward. The guy who gets the call has to do the job. But you're not going to replace Patrik Elias."

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips wasn't ready to concede that Elias would miss Game 1, even after Devils GM/coach Lou Lamoriello said he would.

"He's a big time player and he contributes a lot to their team," Phillips said of Elias. "And it's obviously favorable to us if he's not in the lineup. But you never know at this time of year. That could all be just talk, and he could be in there. We just have to focus on ourselves."

Erik Rasmussen is expected to draw into the Jersey lineup for tonight's game.

THIS AND THAT: In the latest edition of The Hockey News, Phillips has been singled out as the winner of the Rod Langway award, that publication's recognition of the top defensive defenceman in the NHL. "It's a big honor to be given that by them," said Phillips. "There are a lot of guys out there who have the same role ... to be singled out is a big honor" ... Devils D Colin White says he will play tonite. White has missed the final four games of Round 1 ...


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