Gameday Journal presented by Monarch Homes: Game 39 — Penguins vs. Senators
5:00 PM: Today's Gameday Goodie talks Christmas with Chris Neil, what he would give his teammates, what he would give some media and more...
4:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Senators and Penguins...
Michalek - Spezza - Zibanejad
MacArthur - Turris - Ryan
Greening - Smith - Neil
Conacher - Pageau - Condra
Cowen - Karlsson
Phillips - Ceci
Methot - Gryba
Kunitz - Crosby - Dupuis
Conner - Jokinen - Neal
Zolnierczyk - Sutter - Vitale
Adams - Sill - Kobasew
Niskanen - Maatta
Dumouklin - Bortuzzo
Samuelsson - Despres
3:45 PM: Mika Zibanejad returns to the lineup tonight after sitting out Saturday with an upper body injury. Here's what he had to say...
On if he has any lingering concerns:
No, not really. I think I feel good now and the hit wasn't that bad, but I didn't feel very good after and for a bunch of reasons we didn't feel like risking everything and I'm happy it wasn't anything worse.
On playing Pittsburgh:
It's going to be fun obviously and tough. Hopefully we can get a win out of this and get something going, especially winning against this kind of team would be good for us and I think we have a good chance if we're sticking to what we do best.
On if it's encouraging they play top teams well:
Yeah I guess, we've just got to keep playing the same way against these guys against other teams — I don't know if you want to call them not top teams or whatever — but I feel like we've been doing a good job of playing our game against better teams and top teams in the standings and we've just got to keep going.
3:30 PM: Here's what Paul MacLean had to say after practice...
On tonight's lineup:
On Lehner's departure from practice:
I think he's got a little bit of the flu bug around and we're trying to keep people away from people if we can to try to control it and that was the case with Robin.
On if the flu has been an issue:
We've had a little bit of it, we've done our best to control it to keep people separated and that's what we're trying to do. It's not an epidemic by any means and it's not factor I don't think. For Marc obviously it kept him out of the lineup but for the most part we're doing a good job handling it.
On the Penguins:
They're a good team, they've still got one of the best players in the world in their lineup, probably the best line, you could argue, in the National Hockey League with Crosby, Kunitz and Dupuis or Neal if they put him up there. That's formidable enough for us, it's obviously something we have to pay attention to tonight. Their defence, they're showing the guys that have played in the American Hockey League in Wilkes Barre have had some good experience in a number of American League games, they're stepping up and playing well in the National Hockey League, they have good team speed and they're going to be hard but we look forward to the opportunity.
On the team's play vs. elite teams:
That's one of the things we've been doing, against the good teams we've played well, so we anticipate that's the case again tonight. Pittsburgh has given us all we can handle over the years. We know they play fast, we like to play fast so we anticipate it'll go up and down the rink pretty good.
On the break as a good thing:
Find it under the tree, find something under the tree we like. I think the rest is going to be good, our schedule has been pretty heavy lately with the number of games we've played in the days and, much like everyone's in the league, but I think we're all looking forward to having a couple of days just to sit back and relax and probably not think about hockey at least for a day, just think about family and what Christmas means to us and I think it's something everyone is looking forward to.
On how to turn the season around:
I think we need to not play in our zone as much as we do. If we can get out of our zone, that means we've got to play in the other team's zone more often, the fact we play in our own zone a lot — we've gone over this quite a bit — it forces us to take penalties, give more scoring opportunities. We need to get out of our zone.
On if he'll watch Lazar at the World Juniors:
We have people there that are watching…When it's on I'll watch it but I'm not going to specifically do that. He's obviously a good player and they're depending on him so he'll be good.
10:00 AM: The Sens will look to take two points for Christmas today as they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since their playoff series last season.
The Sens are coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Marc Methot had a goal and an assist while Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots in goal in the loss, which gave the Sens a single point.
The Penguins sit atop the Metropolitan division with a record of 27-10-1 for 55 points this season and come to Ottawa after earning a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday. This will be their first trip to Canadian Tire Centre since their game four victory in last season's second round playoff series.
The Sens will hit the ice for their morning skate at 10:15 today 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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