Gameday Journal presented by Monarch Homes: Game 31 — Flyers vs. Senators
5:15 PM: Today's Gameday Goodie talks Philly Cheesesteaks and culinary skills with Zack Smith.
5:00 PM: Sens captain Jason Spezza weighed in on his role on the team and tonight's tilt with the Flyers — their third and final one of the season — after today's skate. Here's what he had to say...
On being the captaincy being more difficult following Alfredsson:
Of course, the expectations are high with Alf leaving and we lost some veteran guys in the room too, but I think I'm the same guy I was when Alfie was here, I was always more of a vocal guy and he was a quieter guy and I think it was inevitable if we got off to a bad start to get comparisons. I fully expected it and we're trying to do our best to get winning hockey games here so we can just worry about games.
On ups and downs associated with the captaincy:
Being a leader in anything isn't always going to be rosy. The finger always gets pointed at you when things aren't going well. I think he (Alfredsson) went through times like that and so will we, it's just a matter of getting the team winning.
On moving forward from Saturday:
We had a good push back on Saturday to get that point, it was a big point for us. Over the last six games we've done a lot of good things and now we're playing a team that has kind of had their way with us this year so we have to make sure we're bringing our best tonight. We need to get winning some hockey games so it would be a good place to start.
On drawing encouragement from Philadelphia:
They beat us 5-0 and it kind of springboarded them to a good run. We're hoping for a similar fate tonight, to have a good game, get a win and build some momentum.
On if they feel close to a run:
I think so, Saturday and probably since the game in Carolina we've been much more consistent with our effort, much more consistent with our execution. We've created a lot more. I think we've only won two of those games but we've done a lot of things that are pushing us in the right direction.
On the 30 game mark:
We've been feeling we've had to get winning here for a while now. The more games you play if you keep treading around — win one, lose one — it gets harder to make up ground. We know that at some point we need to string together some wins.
4:40 PM: Marc Methot offered up his thoughts on tonight's game between the Sens and Flyers after today's skate. Here's what he had to say...
On using the Flyers' turnaround as inspiration:
Any time you see a team kind of rally like that, I mean, it gives you hope. We're in a similar boat right now like you mentioned with where Philly was last time they came in and maybe scramble together and get a good, big moral victory and get a ball rolling. If you don't start stringing together wins you're not going to make the playoffs and playing 50/50 hockey isn't really the way we've intended on playing this year.
On using Saturday as a building block:
It's nice but at the same time it's not like we had the lead, really. We were still in a position that we still try to avoid. You never want to have to play behind, we've got to start getting used to playing with leads. I think that's something that has been a big problem with us this year as a team and unless we start doing that soon nothing's going to change.
On the falling behind:
I don't know, I'm equally as guilty as everyone else, I can't figure it out what exactly the problem is. I like to think we're well prepared, our coaches always prepare us as best as they can, but I mean it was similar last year. We had a lot of come from behind victories last season and unfortunately this year we're not coming back. That's been the issue.
On playing Philly a third time:
We both know each other very well and I think for the most part their lineup is pretty similar to last year's. We've got a lot of history with them and it always makes for a pretty good and interesting hockey game. At this point we don't really care who we're playing against it's just a matter of getting two points, especially at this time of year.
On the Flyers as a big opponent:
I think so. For me at least personally, watching the past and the history between these two teams before I came to this hockey club you can tell there's a bit of a rivalry and I'm always looking forward to that.
3:20 PM Bobby Ryan spoke with the media prior to playing his hometown Flyers. Here's what he had to say...
2:20 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Sens and Flyers...
MacArthur - Spezza - Condra
Michalek - Turris - Ryan
Kassian - Zibanejad - Conacher
Greening - Smith - Neil
Methot - Karlsson
Phillips - Corvo
Cowen - Wiercioch
Hartnell - Giroux - Voracek
Raffl - Schenn - Simmonds
Read - Courturier - Downie
Rosehill - Hall - Rinaldo
Timonen - Coburn
Streit - Grossmann
Schenn - Meszaros
1:30 PM: Here's what Sens coach Paul MacLean had to say after today's morning skate...
On tonight's lineup:
Kassian is in and Hoffman will be out. Gryba will be out on the blueline and Craig Anderson will be the goalie.
On Hoffman's status:
We only have 13 forwards with him so we can keep him around as long as we need him…he has been in the American League how many years now? Two or three? I think he can spend some quality time with us and still improve as a player.
On Hoffman's play:
He has been fine, there hasn't really been any real raise in his play. He skates, he handles the puck, he makes plays. Right now we just feel that Conacher has been here and played and with the team we're playing we need Matt Kassian in the lineup. It's not like we're displeased with how Mike is playing, we just feel other guys have been here and have played ahead of him to this point…I just think he has to be Mike Hoffman, wherever that is. We play him with our top six guys so what is he? He's a guy that skates and shoots the puck, that's what we want him to be.
On Zibanejad at centre vs. the wing:
We believe that Mika is a good centre, but he has learned to play the wing a little bit more at the National Hockey League level so he's comfortable playing in both spots. If we shift him back and forth it doesn't have an affect on him and I think that's good for his development as a player. Again, he has been a supporting player for us that has provided us with some offence and we want to see that continue. Tonight he'll probably go back and forth. On the power play he'll play on the wing and at 5-on-5 he could be at centre. He's still a supporting player but we like what we see.
On the Flyers play vs. the Sens this year:
I don't know if it's the colour orange or what it is but they don't bring out the best in us. We need to make a focused, determined job of coming to the rink tonight prepared to work like we have to be and not be distracted by anything else but ourselves and get ourselves ready to play and find a way to win a game.
On the shootout selection:
It's not tough for me, I have no trouble putting Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and — I think we had Bobby Ryan on the sheet or Clarke next the other night, I just forget now. Historically, Spezza and Michalek score in the shootout. I've got no trouble with it…Historically they have success. In practice it's one thing, but it's another thing with 19,000 people out there. People that have been there and done that are going to go through some cold times and they're going to score every time lots of times. Right they're in a cold time but that doesn't mean I think you go away from them because of that. I think you stick with them is going to give them more confidence the next time they go.
On if he would change goalies in the shootout:
Only if I had to.
On if the play indicates they are getting close:
I would say yes and no. Yes, we feel like we've improved our game and we feel like our game is getting closer and closer to being where we want it to be, but we haven't got the results so no, we'e not pleased with how we've played. But yes, we feel that statistically when you look at the game afterwards, things are getting better. Our shots against are better, our shots for are better, our execution has been better coming out of our zone. There are a lot of things — I guess nowadays we call it trending — that are trending good for us, but we need to have the results. Right now, having the process be positive for us is one thing, but we need some results to really hammer it home and say that we are moving in the right direction. We do feel like we're trending in the right direction.
The Sens dropped the weekend decision on Saturday night to the Maple Leafs after coming back from 3-1 down in the third period. Goals from Clarke MacArthur, Erik Condra and Erik Karlsson — two of which were set up by Mika Zibanejad — made up the offence from the Sens who got 28 stops from Craig Anderson in the loss.
The Flyers have begun to turn their season around from their first trip to Canadian Tire Centre earlier in November. They are now 13-14-2 and are closing the gap on the Metropolitan Division teams ahead of them with a 6-4-0 record in their last 10. To this point in the season they are 6-7-2 away from home.
The Sens will hit the ice at Canadian Tire Centre at 10:15 AM 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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