OTTAWA -- Chris Phillips will miss his sixth straight game when the Ottawa Senators play the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, and it doesn't look promising for the veteran defenseman to return Saturday for the Senators' final game before the NHL breaks for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Phillips, who is out with a lower-body injury, missed three games earlier this season. Chosen No. 1 by Ottawa in the 1996 NHL Draft, the 35-year-old missed a total of three games over the previous six seasons after a knee injury sidelined him for the final 11 games of 2005-06.
"He doesn't miss games," Senators captain Jason Spezza said. "It was surprising not to see him on the plane the other day. You know when [Phillips] misses games that he's really hurt. He's a guy that's always been a professional and always showed up and played through a lot of injuries."
Phillips was not on the ice for Ottawa's morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators are 3-1-1 since he played Jan. 25 in a 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh.
"It's challenging not having [Phillips] around because he's a good calming presence and a veteran guy that we can lean on," Spezza said. "I think the guys have played well that have stepped in and played in his spot, but we definitely miss having him around the guys in the locker room. He's a big cog in our team."
The Senators play the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday.
"We're not going to rule him out for Saturday afternoon just yet, but I think we probably will by the time we get there," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said.
The Senators will not have to face Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. The former Senators defenseman will be Slovakia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony at the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Friday and will miss Boston's final two games before the break with the blessing and support of his teammates and Bruins management, including the game Thursday at the St. Louis Blues.
"I think it's a classy thing to let him go, and the Ottawa Senators support it 100 percent," Spezza said.
Right wing Mark Stone was sent to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. Stone, who was recalled on Dec. 31, had a goal and an assist in seven games before missing Ottawa's previous eight games because of an upper-body injury.
"He's a young player that needs to play," MacLean said.
Goalie Ryan Miller was the only member of the Sabres to take the ice Thursday morning in the wake of Buffalo's 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. Miller, who will represent the United States in Sochi, practiced with goalie coach Jim Corsi.
The Sabres have lost three in a row heading into their final game before the Olympic break.
Here are the projected lineups:
Injured: Chris Phillips (lower body)