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MacLean switches Senators' defense pairings

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean made a minor tweak to his defense pairings Thursday in advance of Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

MacLean decided to put together veterans Sergei Gonchar and Chris Phillips, while Jared Cowen and Eric Gryba will form another pairing, leaving the top duo of Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot intact.

"I don't think it's going to [change] much because we've been doing it through the season," Gonchar said. "It's not like it's the first time going into the playoffs. It's not a new thing for us."

Otherwise, there were no changes for the Senators or the Canadiens, which means Montreal coach Michel Therrien likely will keep a top defense pairing of Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban. The Canadiens have tried several combinations to play alongside Markov since his regular partner, Alexei Emelin, was lost for the season with a knee injury April 6, with Subban being just about the final possible candidate to fill that spot.

MacLean said there was nothing new to report on injured center Jason Spezza. Spezza is in Ottawa continuing his rehabilitate from back surgery, and his potential return during this series remains unknown.

Here are the projected lineups for the Senators and Canadiens:


Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Guillaume Latendresse - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Cory Conacher - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Erik Condra

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar

Jared Cowen - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Peter Regin, Jim O'Brien, Matt Kassian, Patrick Wiercioch, Mike Lundin, Andre Benoit, Mike Hoffman

Injured: Jason Spezza (back)


Michael Ryder - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Rene Bourque

Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Brendan Gallagher

Travis Moen - Ryan White - Brandon Prust

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Josh Gorges - Raphael Diaz

Francis Bouillon - Jarred Tinordi

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Colby Armstrong, Jeff Halpern, Tomas Kaberle, Yannick Weber, Davis Drewiske

Injured: Alexei Emelin (knee)

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