Stone a game-time decision, Sens downplay retaliation for Subban slash

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Prized Ottawa rookie Mark Stone — who suffered a microfracture in his right wrist courtesy a P.K. Subban slash in Game 1 — will be a game-time decision for tonight’s tilt in Montreal, per head coach Dave Cameron.

The 22-year-old took a brief twirl during this morning’s skate before exiting. If Stone doesn’t play, it’s possible that veteran tough guy Chris Neil will draw into the lineup as the extra forward — but even if Stone does play, Neil could still get on the lineup card as well, with another forward getting dropped.

Talk of Neil playing — and this morning’s Ottawa Sun front page — led to the inevitable discussion of Ottawa exacting revenge for Subban’s slash.

The bench boss’ take?

Referees will undoubtedly be on high alert this evening. In that light, it’s unsurprising the NHL assigned a pair of veteran officials in Gord Dwyer and Eric Furlatt. Both have worked over 550 career games.

Related: PHT Extra: Sens need to control their emotions after Subban slash

More drama from Sens-Habs as Murray says Subban threatened Stone before slash

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While we can confirm there are seven other playoff series at hand, we also acknowledge it might not seem that way on PHT right now given all the wild developments between Ottawa and Montreal following P.K. Subban’s Game 1 ejection for slashing Mark Stone.

The latest, from Sens GM Bryan Murray:

Stone, who suffered a microfracture in his right wrist on the slash, is “very questionable” for the remainder of the series, per Murray. The Ottawa GM also said he told NHL discipline czar Stephane Quintal about Stone’s injury prior to the league deciding not to further punish Subban.

Game 2 goes Friday night at the Bell Center in what promises to be an emotional affair. Should Stone be unable to play, it looks as though veteran tough guy Chris Neil will draw into the Ottawa lineup — a decision that could turn this series into an even bigger powderkeg.

Related:

Sens call for Subban suspension after ‘lumberjack slash’

No fine for Cameron after threatening retaliation on Habs

Stone suffered microfracture on Subban slash, Sens confirm

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I hate using a term like slash-gate, but I have a slash-gate update for you.

On Thursday morning, Ottawa announced that Mark Stone — the recipient of a P.K. Subban slash in Wednesday’s series-opening loss to Montreal — has suffered a microfracture in his right wrist, and that his availability for the rest of the series is unknown.

Stone, Ottawa’s star rookie, got caught with the slash midway through the second period and left the game momentarily, but did return and finished with over 15 minutes of ice time.

Losing him would be a major blow.

Since Jan. 1, only four players have scored more points than Stone’s 44 — John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn and Sidney Crosby. It gives you an idea of the level Stone’s been playing at and how important he is to the Sens, especially after they dropped Game 1.

Stone didn’t skate with Ottawa on Wednesday as Milan Michalek took his spot on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Alex Chiasson took Michalek’s spot alongside Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad, which meant that Chris Neil drew into the mix and rushed on the fourth line.

As for Subban, he won’t face any supplemental discipline from the league and, per reports from this morning, Sens head coach Dave Cameron won’t be fined for his threats of retaliation against Montreal for the slash.

Surging Sens proving importance of youth

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Andrew Hammond may be a great story, and he definitely has a great nickname. But the Ottawa Senators’ playoff push is about way more than a  goalie coming out of nowhere to salvage a once-lost season.

As the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle writes, the Sens’ comeback is just as much a story of a new coach, Dave Cameron, “turning over ice time and responsibility to younger, skilled players and watching them flourish”:

At this point, with Chris Neil, Chris Phillips and Clarke MacArthur out of the lineup, the Sens have by far the youngest team pushing for a playoff spot (average age 25.9).

The biggest beneficiaries of the coaching change back in December, meanwhile, have been Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Curtis Lazar, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Patrick Wiercioch – all of whom fall in the 25-and-under category. And Phillips and David Legwand, the Senators’ two greybeards, are down the most in ice time.

And let’s not forget that Kyle Turris, the NHL’s second star of the week, is only 25 himself, while star defenseman Erik Karlsson is still just 24.

The Sens have in some ways been forced to go with a younger lineup. They’re not a big-budget franchise that’s been in the running for all the top free agents, which is actually something they’ve tried to spin in their favor. (Owner Eugene Melnyk famously said back in 2012 that “any idiot” could spend to the cap.)

Melnyk has promised that the Sens’ payroll will “skyrocket” once all the club’s young players get new contracts. We’ll see to what degree. In the meantime, all that youthful energy and enthusiasm is providing great bang for the buck.

Sens’ drafting and developing, beyond the first round

Wiercioch (42nd overall in 2008)
Hoffman (130th overall in 2009)
Stone (178th overall in 2010)
Pageau (96th overall in 2011)

Related: Why are the Oilers still bad? Look at their drafting

Video: Sens’ Neil (fractured left thumb) out indefinitely

Trade rumors surrounding Senators tough guy Chris Neil officially cooled off Saturday afternoon.

The Ottawa forward suffered a fractured left thumb during a fight with the Oilers’ Luke Gazdic.

The Senators announced that Neil is out indefinitely.

The 35-year-old, who has spent his entire 13-year NHL career with Ottawa, became the subject of trade rumors last month.

Sens GM Bryan Murray told the Ottawa Citizen that he had received inquiries about the availability of Neil.

However, earlier this month Murray approached Neil with the idea of being traded and he said no.

Neil has four goals and seven points in 38 games this season to go along with eight fights and 78 penalty minutes.