Senators lose Dion Phaneuf to lower-body injury. What happens to their D-corps without him?

The Ottawa Senators lost minute-munching defenseman Dion Phaneuf for an indefinite period of time after he went down with a lower-body injury Tuesday.

The Ottawa Senators lost more than just their game against the Washington Capitals Tuesday night, as defenseman Dion Phaneuf went down with a lower-body injury.

It’s unclear at this time when and how Phaneuf got hurt, but the Senators announced via their Twitter account that he would not return. He played 16:28 before going down.

Ottawa beat writer and THN correspondent Bruce Garrioch reported the Sens “will have to call up a defenseman,” which doesn’t bode well for Phaneuf’s availability in the short term.

Before Tuesday’s game, Phaneuf had a goal and eight points in 19 games since coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Feb. 9 trade. He spent most of his time on the team’s second pairing with youngster Cody Ceci. Phaneuf was just an average possession player relative to the rest of his Ottawa teammates, but he was logging more than 23 minutes a game entering Tuesday’s action. More importantly, he was serving as somewhat of a veteran mentor to Ceci. Per, Ceci is a 43.2 percent 5-on-5 Corsi player when not playing with Phaneuf, and Ceci’s number jumps to 48.6 with Phaneuf, so the rub-off effect seemed to be positive.

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Losing Phaneuf thus stings a bit for the Sens. Even the lingering haters from his Toronto tenure can’t deny Ottawa is better with him than without him. At the same time, there’s a silver lining here. The Sens are seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and No. 8 seed Philadelphia has two games in hand. They aren’t going anywhere. Even owner Eugene Melnyk knows it. And playing sans-Phaneuf might give them another look at young defenseman Fredrik Claesson. It also ups their chances at a few more lottery balls should Phaneuf’s injury be worse than the day-to-day variety.

Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin