April 9, 2012
Sens' Neil: I'll be OK to play Thursday
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Chris Neil called himself lucky.
The Senators winger told reporters he's fine after crashing into the boards during practice Friday and then missing the regular season finale against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. What really matters to the Senators is that Neil fully expects to play in Game 1 Thursday against the New York Rangers.
Neil skated before the club's one-hour workout on Monday and only stayed for the first 15 minutes of full team practice. Later, he said he is happy he didn't cause more damage after tripping over goaltender Ben Bishop's toe during a shootout drill Friday.
"I'm feeling pretty good. Things are looking good for Thursday," said Neil. "(We) just wanted to make sure I'm going to be 100 per cent for Thursday. That's the goal.
"We knew we were in the playoffs. We didn't know who we were playing, but obviously today in practice it would be good to rest (Matt Carkner) and I ... Our two tough guys."
Actually, Carkner sat out because he's got a minor injury, but coach Paul MacLean wasn't about to elaborate.
The Eastern Conference's eight-seeded Senators will spend the next three days preparing for the challenge of facing the No. 1-seeded Rangers.
"The playoffs you wipe everything clean and pretty much start from scratch," said Jason Spezza. "Now, it's just looking forward to Game 1, trying to get the momentum in the series as soon as you can."
Senators centre Mika Zibanejad, the club's No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, was on the ice. He won't play because the club doesn't want to burn a year on his contract.