New York Hockey: Chris Neil

Rangers mum on Neil's comments

April, 25, 2012
Michael Del Zotto politely sidestepped questions about Chris Neil's eyebrow-raising comments following Game 6.

After the Senators 3-2 loss in Ottawa Monday, during which he was leveled by a big hit from Del Zotto in the third period, Neil seemed to issue a thinly-veiled warning to the young defenseman.

"I'm sure I'll catch him with his head down one of these times," he said.

Responding to the threat, Del Zotto feigned ignorance:

"I don't even know what he said. I'm just worried about tomorrow's game."

Neil has been an effective antagonist for the Senators all series but his play has elicited anger from the Rangers' side. Coach John Tortorella likened his questionable hit that left Brian Boyle concussed in Game 5 to Phoenix's Raffi Torres' devastating blow on Chicago's Marian Hossa that earned him a staggering 25-game suspension. Tough guy Brandon Prust also admitted his first-period fight against Neil on Monday was "maybe a little bit" motivated by retribution for Boyle.

But Prust and his Rangers teammates will settle these differences on the ice in Game 7, when the two teams square off in a do-or-die at Madison Square Garden.

"We're not really concerned about what he had to say," Prust said.

Boyle, Callahan not practicing

April, 25, 2012
The Rangers were without valuable center Brian Boyle in Game 6 against the Senators, and if Wednesday's practice is any indication, they will be without him in the series finale as well.

The 6-6 pivot, who tallied three goals in the first three games of the series, did not skate with the team Wednesday. He has not played or skated since being forced from Game 5 after a crushing hit from Ottawa's Chris Neil.

Neil was not penalized for the hit, and although Rangers coach John Tortorella suggested he deserved a similar sentence to Raffi Torres' 25-game ban, the Senators tough guys avoided any supplementary discipline.

Rangers captain Ryan Callahan was also missing from practice. The 27-year-old winger took a hard shot to the hand in Game 6 on Monday but remained in the game.

Neil issues warning to Del Zotto after hit

April, 24, 2012

Chris Neil


Right Wing
Ottawa Senators


2012 Season Stats
72 13 15 28 -10 178

Senators tough guy Chris Neil is already a pretty unpopular guy in the Rangers' dressing room -- his questionable hit in Game 5 left Brian Boyle with a concussion -- and he certainly did not make any new friends Monday night with comments made following the Rangers' 3-2 win in Ottawa.

The gritty winger issued a thinly-veiled threat to Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, whose hit in the third left Neil down on the ice for several minutes. He skated off on his own power and returned to the game, but was not happy when asked about it after the game.

"I'm sure I'll catch him with his head down one of these times," he said, according to several reports.

Neil avoided any supplementary discipline for his hit on Boyle but may incur the wrath of the NHL's Department of Player Safety with his recent remarks.

• • •
Milan Michalek may have also caught the eye of the league's disciplinary arm. CBC footage shows the winger appearing to use his skate to kick defenseman Dan Girardi twice during the goal-mouth scramble that led to Ottawa's controversial goal with less than 39 seconds remaining.

Similar incidents involving Carolina's Jeff Skinner and Anaheim's Bobby Ryan earned each player two-game suspensions.

Replacing Brian Boyle

April, 22, 2012
Following Game 5 Saturday night, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella revealed that Brian Boyle sustained a concussion on a hit by Chris Neil and is out indefinitely.

Boyle had been one of the Rangers' most important players down the stretch and in their series against the Ottawa Senators. Here's a look at his game-by-game production in the playoffs.

Boyle has played, and performed, in all man-power situations in the postseason. On the penalty kill, he's seen nearly 14 minutes of ice time and allowed just 5 scoring chances against, while generating one shorthanded scoring opportunity. And of course, his three goals have made him a huge -- and unlikely -- secondary scoring source. But production aside, Boyle's position alone may make him extremely difficult to replace.

While the blueshirts will get Carl Hagelin back from suspension and Tortorella was impressed by Chris Kreider's continuing adjustment to the NHL after Game 5, the absence of Boyle deprives the Rangers of its checking line center. And options seem to be limited and/or not particularly desirable.

Though it's all just speculation at this point, Brandon Dubinsky may be best suited for the role, but that would mean breaking up the Dubinksy-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan line, easily the Rangers' best unit in Game 5. Derek Stepan is another option, but while he has been showing a little more of his physical game lately, his build makes him more of a Scrappy-Doo to Boyle's hulking Chewbacca. Not to mention the fact that the skill of Dubinsky and Stepan may be better deployed trying to ignite the Rangers' struggling top point producers. Ultimately, fourth-line center John Mitchell could be bumped up a peg for even strength shifts.

In any case, it's a less-than-optimal situation as the Rangers try to fight for playoff survival on enemy ice Monday night.

Neil expected to play Thursday

April, 9, 2012
Although Senators winger Chris Neil missed the team's season finale against New Jersey Saturday, he is expected to return to the lineup Thursday when Ottawa faces New York in the first game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm feeling pretty good. Things are looking good for Thursday," Neil said, according to the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch. "Just wanted to make sure I'm going to be 100 per cent for Thursday. That's the goal."

Neil was scratched Saturday after sustaining an injury during the Senators practice Friday, when he tripped over goaltender Ben Bishop and crashed into the boards.

The 32-year-old Neil has 13 goals and 15 assists in 72 games this season for the Senators.