The Ottawa Senators are going to have to live without their defensive captain for awhile.
Chris Phillips, the team’s unquestioned leader on defence, suffered a “mild concussion” during Monday’s 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils, according to coach Paul MacLean. MacLean says the injury occurred when the Devils’ Dainius Zubrus accidently elbowed Phillips as they both pursued the puck around the Senators net.
Phillips won’t play Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but as is the case with all players who suffer concussions, there is no timetable for his return.
“We’re going to be hopeful that it’s short term and it’s being evaluated and it appears to be a mild one, but it depends on him,” said MacLean.
The coach says there’s no question the Senators will miss the steadying influence of the 33-year-old Phillips, who has played 984 career regular season games, all with the Senators.
“Chris has been a real steadying influence on our team and a major part of any success we’ve had in our end and defensively,” he said. “If he’s not playing, we’re going to miss him, much like we did when (Filip) Kuba and (Sergei) Gonchar were out. I thought he was stellar in his play when they were out and any time we’re missing a veteran player, it gives us a concern.
“He has been here a long time, part of our leadership group and he has a lot of pull in the locker room and he’s well respected. So when he’s not in there, it’s going to make a difference.”
The one consolation is that Gonchar, who has missed the past two games after being hit in the head during the warm-up before the New Year’s Eve game in Buffalo, is expected to return against Tampa Bay.
At this point, the Senators have a bare minimum of six defencemen on the roster and MacLean says there will be consideration given to recalling another defenceman from Binghamton of the American Hockey League, depending on how quickly Phillips recovers from his concussion.