Gameday Journal presented by Monarch Homes: Game 76 — Islanders vs. Senators
5:30 PM: Get set for puck drop with Gord Wilson and Sens TV.
5:20 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Sens and Islanders.
Hemsky - Zibanejad - Michalek
MacArthur - Turris - Stone
Kassian - Pageau - Condra
Hoffman - Smith - Neil
Methot - Karlsson
Wiercioch - Ceci
Phillips - Gryba
New York Islanders
Lee - Nielsen - Bailey
Persson - Nelson - Clutterbuck
Martin - Strome - McDonald
Halmo - Cizikas - Sundstrom
de Haan - Hamonic
Czuczman - Hickey
Donovan - Carkner
5:00 PM: Today's Gameday Goodie talks to Erik Karlsson about his Masterton Trophy nomination and his charitable initiatives with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.
1:45 PM: Sens forward Clarke MacArthur offered his thoughts on tonight's game and the team's push for the playoffs. Here's what he had to say...
On the Isles:
We're starting to build and get a little confidence, the goalies are playing well and it'll be a tough game with these guys coming in. They've lost some key players but their work ethic is ramped up and they play hard. If we want to have a chance tonight we're going to have to be smart.
On relying on other teams for help:
We put ourselves there, the best we can do is keep competing each night and keep trying to give ourselves a chance. That's all we can do.
On watching the other teams in the race:
It's tough watching, it's never fun to sit there and cheer or hope teams lose so you can gain. It's mentally draining. We just need to worry about our games. Everyone talks about teams needing to go 6-1 or 7-1 to finish the year, it's tough to do that. If we can take care of ourselves, everyone isn't going 6-1 the rest of the way. Someone's going to do the .500 thing or a couple of other teams so it's just take care of our own stuff and see what happens.
On the team keeping loose for the rest of the season:
Yeah and into next season, it's amazing when you loosen up a bit and concentrate on doing your job and putting your effort in when you're on the ice, it's amazing what can happen. I think we're getting better these last few games, we've won them and obviously that makes everything better but our game has been better too.
On the importance of the goaltending:
It has been good. I felt bad, we didn't have good games in front of Lehner, he's a great goaltender and we just didn't take care of the back doors for him and then he can't play his position, he can't do his job and it was a tough stretch for our team. He took that like a pro, he battled for us and they've both done a good job. We just have to be better defensively.
On the improved defensive effort coming from practices:
We've put in the work, obviously a few of those skates we did were well needed. Sometimes you get out there with no pucks and just dig in and get something out of the practice. Whether that brought us some life, it was definitely something we needed and we've kind of took off since then.
1:15 PM: Sens head coach Paul MacLean offered his updates on the team and thoughts on the Islanders today after the morning skate. Here's what he had to say...
On the effect of Hemsky:
I'm not sure if he's had an effect but he has come in and played very well for us. He has good skill, he has good speed and he has demonstrated that on numerous occasions. There seems to be a chemistry developing with him and Jason and Milan and they've been a factor in every game they've played. We'd like to see that continue.
On the lineup:
It's the same lineup. Jason skated this morning but he won't be available tonight.
On if Spezza will be available this week:
I'm hopeful for Friday now, today was the first day he skated so we'll see how he is tomorrow and Friday. We'll take it day by day.
On the confidence in the room:
We think it's pretty good right now on the heels of winning and putting together a streak which is what you need to do. Obviously you still need help but all we control is what we do with our games and we just try to get prepared for our next game and not look too far ahead but definitely don't look behind us. Just make sure we're ready for the next game and do what we can to win.
On the Islanders:
They're a young team that works real hard and they're playing the game physically. There's a lot of opportunity on that team for a lot of young players and they're taking advantage of it. They play with a lot of enthusiasm and they play hard. We better be ready to play.
On the problem of Spezza's absence:
The offensive side of the game is a dimension he controls, the power play is better when he's out there. The offensive side of the game is a big part of it.
On Spezza saying he would be a game time decision:
Something tightened up I guess. I was told he was good to go just like you and then they came in and said it wasn't quite right. I'm not sure exactly what happened but it's not right is all I know.
On Karlsson's game this season:
I think he's getting there, I'm not sure if he's all the way back but he's got 70 points so he's obviously done pretty well. He has scored 20 goals, set a new career high, he's obviously playing really well. The only other side of it for us is I think some of the times in the defensive side of the puck battle there has been a bit of an issue but that's something time will take care of... I think he has been better, when he won the Norris Trophy he was better at it (winning puck battles), but part of that is the confidence in he's not the big, strong guy, he has to use his skating ability to do it. When he gets into that battle sometimes the injury resurfaces and he doesn't have the same confidence as he did in the past. That's time letting it work and letting it get stronger and stronger.
On if they need Karlsson's game to change:
We talk to him lots, we show him what we need to show him, but for the most part it's just talking to him. He's got 70 points, he's a good player. He is a minus, that's there, he has the puck I think he leads the league in turnovers but the good side to that is he has the puck lots. That's good for us when he has the puck lots and, again, we show it to him and we talk to him and explain that not everyone sees the game the way you see it, you need to keep it simpler for the guys you're playing with so they understand what you need and where you're going with pucks. It's just part of the process of learning to be an elite player in the league, it doesn't happen overnight, it's something you have to learn. It's something he's willing to learn and we spend lots of time talking about it.
On the defensive play vs. Carolina:
For me it's a product of the work we put in in practice since before the Olympic break ended. We've been a lot more focused on the defensive zone in our game and I think it's the culmination of the work we've put in in practice. With those practice blocks we've had I think it's starting to fall into place for us.
10:00 AM: The Ottawa Senators will look to keep it rolling tonight when they host the New York Islanders.
The Senators are coming off of a 2-1 shootout win on Monday night over the Carolina Hurricanes. Mika Zibanejad scored the Sens' lone goal while Ales Hemsky potted the shootout winner and was named first star for his performance. Craig Anderson stopped 30 shots and three shootout attempts to earn the victory.
The Islanders have put together a record of 30-35-10 in 75 games this season which leaves them eighth in the Metropolitan Division with 70 points. In 36 games away from home this year they are 17-17-2.
The Islanders won the lone match between the two teams this year in a shootout back in November.
The Sens will hold 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, Sens TV content, Instagram goodness and more.
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