The Ottawa Senators will finish the season shorthanded on their blueline.
As the Senators prepared to face the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night in their second-last game at the Canadian Tire Centre, alternate captain Thomas Chabot and defenceman Josh Brown weren’t on the ice.
Chabot left the game four minutes into the first period of the club’s 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Monday with what appeared to be a shoulder injury but nobody is sure what exactly happened to Brown.
Coach D.J. Smith confirmed neither will suit up in the club’s final four games of the regular season.
“Both got dinged up,” Smith said. “We’ll know more later (Tuesday). It’s likely both won’t play the rest of the way.
That means rookie defencemen Jacob Bernard-Docker will suit up against the Habs while newcomer Olle Alsing will make his NHL debut with the Senators.
Chabot, the club’s ice-time leader with an average of more than 26 minutes per night, was hit into the glass by Winnipeg’s Logan Stanley. Initially, he returned to the bench, but didn’t stay long. It appeared when he tried to take a twirl, he didn’t have much strength in the shoulder, so he went back to the dressing room for the night.
“It’s nothing serious for (Chabot) but we’re not going to put him in harm’s way unless he’s 100%,” Smith added. “With four games left, we’re not going to put guys in spots where they can hurt themselves further. We’d like them to be heathy to end the year. We’ll know more, but at this point it doesn’t look good for either one of them to play again this year.”
TOUGH NEWS FOR CANADA
Of course, this injury to Chabot will be a difficult blow for Team Canada general manager Roberto Luongo.
Chabot has been invited to suit up for the country along with Connor Brown, Nick Paul and Drake Batherson at the IIHF world championship in Riga, Lativa later this month.
A candidate to play on the left side for Canada along with Toronto’s Morgan Reilly at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, Chabot could improve his standing by suiting up for the country. Given that he’s not going to be healthy enough to play in next Wednesday’s season finale against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it would be hard to believe he’d be ready to leave for Latvia on May 15.
Smith said that would be up to the medical staff to determine if Chabot could play for Canada but the chances are now slim to none.
“That’s a personal choice for him. We don’t know what the extent (of the injury is) and how long it will be if he was going to go back and play,” Smith said. “That’s something we’ll determine here shortly.”
A DIFFERENT LOOK
This means those wanting to see Bernard-Docker get a chance to play will get their wishes.
Bernard-Docker, signed out of the University of North Dakota last month, has suited up for only one game — his NHL debut April 14 ,with 15:33 of ice time against the Jets.
He has been a healthy scratch in seven straight since but has been working hard and staying ready for another opportunity to play.
The decision by Smith not to use him has been widely debated by the fan base but the Senators feel Bernard-Docker needs more time to be a regular at this level. He’s likely to start next season with the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville, but these final four games will give him a good opportunity to figure out where he needs to improve.
“Whether I’m in the lineup or not, that’s the goal, is to learn every day. I’m new here so there’s been lots to take in and lots to learn,” said Bernard-Docker. “The guys have been doing a great job teaching me the way here and whether I’m in the lineup or not it’s been a really good learning experience whether I’m in the lineup or not.”
Bernard-Docker will be paired with Alsing. The 25-year-old was signed as a free agent from the Swedish league and has suited up for seven games with Belleville after coming overseas. Naturally, he’s looking forward to his debut and planned to call his mother overseas to let her know so she could stay up to watch.
“It’s huge of course,” Alsing said. “As long as I’ve played hockey I’ve wanted to play in the NHL and to get the opportunity it’s going to be huge. There’s only four games left but I’m going to do my best and if I get to play all those I’m hopefully going to make a statement I’m actually a good hockey player.”
The other pairings in the skate Tuesday had Victor Mete with Nikita Zaitsev while Erik Brannstrom was beside Artem Zub.
THE LAST WORDS
We may see Matt Murray (undisclosed) and Joey Daccord (high ankle sprain) before the end of the season. Murray has been on the ice doing conditioning skates and may be available to suit up against the Leafs next Wednesday. As for Daccord, he was on the ice before the skate Tuesday and may get medical clearance to play with Belleville … Hard to say but it would appear Anton Forsberg will start against the Habs. After being sidelined with an ankle injury, he did a majority of the work in the skate and is cleared to play. Forsberg wouldn’t shed any light on how suffered the ailment 10 days ago before facing the Canucks but is ready to go if he gets the call. It’s been three weeks between starts.