Phillips expected to return against Winnipeg, but which defencemen rest?

It wasn’t so long ago that when it came to scratching healthy defencemen, Senators coach Paul MacLean was choosing between an assortment of players who weren’t playing well.

It wasn’t so long ago that when it came to scratching healthy defencemen, Senators coach Paul MacLean was choosing between an assortment of players who weren’t playing well.

But now that MacLean is forced to make another move with Chris Phillips expected back against Winnipeg, it’s a bitter sweet feeling. Whatever the choice, he’s going to be taking out a defenceman who has been playing well. Two of the following three – Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba and Joe Corvo – will likely sit.

“I thought Wiercioch has played two games in a row well and I thought Gryba played two games in a row well, when he played and so has Corvo,” said MacLean. “those are decisions that are good and hard. It was hard to make (a decision)earlier in the year that was right. Right now, it gives you a little comfort that you can make (a decision) and have some confidence it will be the right one. I’ve maligned the (defence) as much as anyone through the first 41 games about turning over pucks and not playing well in our zone, but to their credit, they’ve taken the criticism, watched the video and worked at it.”

MacLean joked that the improved play of the defence allowed him to fall asleep before midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“Now, I can sleep at night,” he said.

The one decision that must be made is whether rookie Cody Ceci will remain as a partner for Marc Methot or return to play with Phillips. Ceci sported a plus/minus of plus 5 in two games with Methot.

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