Gameday Journal presented by Monarch Homes: Game 21 — Flyers vs. Senators
3:45 PM: Tonight's game will mark 800 in the career of Chris Neil and, naturally, today's Gameday Goodie catches up with the Sens fan favourite to talk about hitting the milestone.
Take a look...
MacArthur - Turris - Ryan
Michalek - Spezza - Conacher
Greening - Smith - Neil
Condra - Grant - Zibanejad
Methot - Karlsson
Phillips - Borowiecki
Cowen - Gryba
Hartnell - Giroux - Voracek
Schenn - Lecavalier - Simmonds
Read - Couturier - Downie
Rinaldo - Hall - Rosehill
Timonen - Coburn
Grossmann - Streit
Schenn - Gustafsson
2:00 PM: The Sens will #ReleaseTheLehner tonight as Robin Lehner gets the call in goal to take on the Flyers. He has played one game in his career against Philadelphia and won it, allowing a single goal and posting a .960 save percentage in the process.
Here's what he had to say on today's game...
On tonight's game:
We're a little desperate and we need a win. That's all we need to focus on is to get out of here with two points, I don't really care how we do it, but we need to get two points.
On if they need to play desperate hockey:
Yeah, but we need to do it every night. We can't win one and then lose, we've got to be desperate every night. Or desperate maybe isn't the right word, but just play very hard and with the intensity and urgency to win.
On the loss last week:
I think we didn't play well that game and we didn't play up to our potential, but if we show up and we're all on the same page we're a good team and we can definitely get two points.
On playing in Philly:
I've played here once, it's a fun building to play in, but we lost last game so of course we want to come in and get a win here.
1:30 PM: Paul MacLean gave his updates on today's lineup for the Sens ahead of their second meeting with the Flyers in a week. Here's what he had to say...
On today's lineup:
Robin Lehner is the goalie, but everything else will stay the same.
On keeping the lineup the same:
We opted to stay the way we were. We felt that Condra's first game back was a good game and the fact we're playing on the road in Philadelphia, it made sense to us — we considered taking Gryba out and putting somebody in and we just felt with his size and physicality we need that here tonight.
Well we always take it game by game. It's Robin's turn to play tonight and we'll deal with tomorrow once we get to tomorrow.
On getting the desperation level up:
We want to really concentrate on the start of the game tonight and have a good start. That doesn't mean we want to come out running all over the place and giving them lots of opportunities just because we're showing energy. We want to have a good start to the game. We want to make sure we work real hard for the first goal and see if we can build some momentum for ourselves on the road.
11:00 AM: In roughly a month since being recalled from Binghamton, Derek Grant has done a lot to help stabilize the Sens' bottom six and penalty kill.
Strong faceoff work, particularly in the neutral and defensive zones, have given the Sens possession they weren't earning earlier in October; physical play — Grant is a plus-14 in the hits column on the ice — and a defensive mentality have all been assets to this team, which has laboured for consistency at times in those facets of the game.
Grant also earned his first NHL point with an assist on November 1 and has come inches away from his first goal on a handful of occasions. I caught up with the Sens' number 57 prior to the team's departure for Philadelphia. Here's what he had to say on his first month back with the big club...
On his play through a month:
I'm getting more comfortable every game. I feel I can contribute obviously defensively and our line tries to chip in when we can. I think the penalty kill — obviously we struggled last game — it's a big part of the game and I take a lot of pride in that.
On getting closer to that first goal:
It's something that's kind of in the back of your mind I guess, but whether it's your first or your 100th, I think that you're always going to want to score that goal to help your team win and, you know, I've had a couple of close chances. I've just got to find a way to put it in.
On the PK improvement:
We've worked a lot with Reeder on that, watched video and we work a lot in practice. Our power play has been doing well as well. We've been working on special teams a lot and when you can get four guys working together it helps a lot.
On facing certain centres a second or third time in the faceoff circle:
I think I did well early, the last few games haven't been my best I think. Some games you get bounces too and some games you don't, obviously you've got to work at that all the time and we try to spend some time on that before the games, working, and we watch video on the other teams as well. It's something that obviously you want to do well in and I take a lot of pride in so when I don't do well I'm not too happy.
On earning linesman respect on the draw:
For sure, guys can get away with a lot more when they've been around and build relationships with these guys. Some guys are different and everyone drops the puck a little different, they're not all robots out there. They're just doing the best they can and obviously you've got to try and work with them as much as you can and they're trying to be as honest as they can be as well.
On the right attitude for winning faceoffs:
I think a lot of it is just confidence. When you're winning draws it's probably a little easier to go in there, but you've got to try and take every one individually and when you've got good wingers and D-men getting their bumps and helping you out, a lot of faceoffs are won by wingers and the D. When they can come in and help, it helps us a lot.
On taking on the Flyers and Giroux, Lecavalier, etc.:
I didn't have a great game in the circle against them so I'm looking to rebound there, but they have a good team on paper and I don't think their record shows that. So, you know, we just have to take it in stride and I think we have a lot to prove as well to the fans and to the league so it's going to be a good game.
The Sens return to action after a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday and will face the Flyers for the second time in seven days. Last week saw the Sens fall by a 5-0 score to Philly.
The Flyers remain on the bottom of the Metropolitan Division through 19 games, though their season is starting to turn around with a 4-0-1 record in the last 10 days. Still, they have struggled at home to this point with a 3-7-0 mark.
The Sens will have their morning skate ahead of tonight's 7:00 PM puck drop and I'll have plenty of updates to follow including, but not limited to, lineup changes, players' thoughts on tonight's game, Sens TV updates, Instagram goodness and more.
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