Ottawa Senators tough guy Chris Neil injured during practice

By Matthew Kirkpatrick

The Ottawa Senators may have lost a significant piece of their playoff puzzle today when gritty forward Chris Neil was injured at the end of practice.

The Senators tough guy was participating in a shootout drill in practice prior to the team leaving for New Jersey for the final game of the regular season against the New Jersey Devils.

Apparently Neil tripped over goalie Ben Bishop’s pad and crashed head and shoulder first into the end boards where he lay on the ice for several minutes surrounded by teammates and training staff, and was eventually helped off the ice by Jason Spezza and Zack Smith.

When questioned about what he saw from his vantage point head coach Paul MacLean said, “I didn’t see Pavel Datsyuk.”

MacLean would not speculate on the severity of the injury, but did say that the forward would not accompany the team to New Jersey, and that Neil was still being evaluated by the medical staff.

Neil had been enjoying one of the best offensive seasons of his 10 year career with the Senators scoring 13 goals and chipping in 15 assists, his offensive output can be largely attributed to having the likes of Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner on board so he doesn’t have to fight every rookie with a beef who is trying make his name in the league like in years past. Having the extra muscle in the line up has allowed Neil to focus on just playing hockey, and his game has really benefited.

Anyone who has ever watched the former sixth round pick play knows he brings much more to the team than just points.  If Neil is out for any portion of the playoffs Ottawa will have a hard time replacing the energy, toughness, and leadership that he provides the team.

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