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Gameday Journal: Game 4 ��� Avalanche vs. Senators

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

3:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Sens and Avalanche...

Ottawa Senators

Forwards

MacArthur - Turris - Stone

Ryan - Zibanejad - Chiasson

Condra - Legwand - Neil

Michalek - Smith - Lazar

Defence

Phillips - Karlsson

Wiercioch - Ceci

Gryba - Borowiecki

Goaltenders

Anderson

Lehner

Scratches: Cowen, Greening, Hoffman, Methot (IR)

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards

McGinn - Duchene - Iginla

Tanguay - MacKinnon - Briere

Landeskog - O'Reilly - Everberg

McLeod - Mitchell - Talbot

Defence

Holden - Johnson

Hejda - Barrie

Stuart - Guenin

Goaltenders

Varlamov

Berra

Scratches: Cliche, Redmond, Wilson, Winchester (IR)

3:00 PM: Senators captain Erik Karlsson spoke to the media today about playing his first home game in front of the Ottawa fans as captain. Here's what he had to say...

On tonight being more special as captain:

Yes and no. I think it's going to be fun before the game and then once the spectacle is over with it's focus on the game. It's not something I really give that much thought to.

On playing with Phillips:

We've played before over the five years I've been here. He's a veteran guy who has a lot of experience and knows what to do out there. He's easy for me to play with and that's the way it is right now. I'm happy with it.

On Phillips as an older player:

I think he's still a class player, he's one of the better players in this league on the defensive side and he's a solid guy to play with, especially for younger guys. We're happy to have him here. Against Tampa he played even more than me so it shows he can still play some pretty good hockey.

On what they need to do to have success at home:

We just need to come out and play hard right from the start. We want to be energized as a team. It feels like we've been doing that on the road, homestands we've taken off a little bit and that's one thing we can't do. We've got to start the game well, really focus on the first 10 minutes and come out strong.

On nerves being a factor in a home opener:

I don't think so. As I said, before the game there is going to be a lot of spectacle. It's not something to really focus on and once the puck is dropped it's going to be over with and it's going to be a normal home game for us. Hopefully the crowd can help us get momentum right from the start.

On giving up a high number of shots:

It all depends on where the shots come from. We can take 50 shots a night if we have to if it's from the perimeter and that's what we've been working on — giving them what we want to give them. If they have 40 shots or 15 it doesn't matter as long as they don't have scoring chances.

On if scoring chances have decreased:

Yeah, it has only been three games but where we're at right now, we're satisfied with it. We're still going to improve and get better and we want to play our best hockey in April and so on.

On Colorado:

They're a team of great depth that has good speed. We don't see them a lot, they have a lot of talent over there and they have a good lineup. It's going to be a good test for us and an interesting game to play. It's going to be as high a pace as it can be.

2:15 PM: Senators rookie Curtis Lazar will play his first game in front of Ottawa's home fans tonight as he is slated to play in the home opener against Colorado. Here's what he had to say about the forthcoming experience...

On sitting out in Florida:

I found the first couple of games my first true test in the National Hockey League and I was a little tense. I talked to coach about it and it was an opportunity to breathe and relax a little bit. Coming in today I feel great and hopefully I get back out soon. It's part of the business and the depth of this hockey team is great. The 20 guys that dress each night are going to do a great job and that's exactly what happened in Florida.

On playing the wing:

I'm sort of looking forward to that. Different roles and different responsibilities, especially in the defensive zone and it's going to be a different taste. I've been going through this for about a month now and I'll just be myself and take it a shift at a time.

On what he learned from the first two games:

There's a lot of energy and a lot of passion out there. The players know how to play hockey too. It's a pretty good league and, just for myself, just to be out there — in the Nashville game Volchenkov welcomed me to the pros a little bit — but, as I said, it's a business and you have to be ready to go each and every night.

On what he learned from being a scratch:

I just realized how much time you actually have. I was panicking a bit and there were times I can carry the puck a little bit more, especially through the neutral zone and that just comes with experience and confidence. I know I'm just a couple of games into my NHL career so far. I really want to work on that part of my game. The home opener is going to be great and to be able to dress is going to be a great time. I'm looking forward to having some fun out there and bringing that smile back.

On playing at home:

The fans have been great. I haven't been there that long but they've welcomed me with open arms and being around the city of Ottawa, the people and the passion they have for the Senators, it's unbelievable. It's going to be a great atmosphere and hopefully we go out there and get the job done.

1:45 PM: Gord Wilson brings you his pre-game report from Canadian Tire Centre ahead of tonight's home opener.

12:30 PM: Sens TV catches up with forward Kyle Turris ahead of tonight's game. Take a look...

12:15 PM: Senators goaltender Craig Anderson will get the start for the Sens in their home opener against Colorado tonight. Here's what he had to say ahead of the matchup...

On the team's play through three games:

I think we've come together as a group and figured out a way to win a couple of games. I like the way we're playing as a group defensively and giving ourselves an opportunity to be there at the end of the night.

On if there's a noticeable difference in play from last season:

Sure, I don't really remember last year, I've tried to forget that as much as possible and move forward. Through three games, usually the first five, six or seven games are a little chaotic and then things start to settle down. It might be a little bit too early to really put a definition on what's going on but the idea is to continue to get better. The team that figures out how to play as a group and defensively the best sooner, the better success they'll have.

On getting back home:

It's a fresh start for us, we have an opportunity to do well at home and that's huge in this league. You have to be able to string together wins at home and take care of home ice. For the most part we're all professionals and should be able to handle ourselves whether we're on the road or at home. The only thing that changes is the colour of the sweater we're wearing and who the fans are cheering for.

On if home openers are more exciting a week into the season:

We've only had the one opener so far on the road and it definitely brings a little bit of excitement. For us to get ours a couple of games in should be fun for us. We haven't played at home in a while. We have a lot of energy, it should be a good crowd and we're looking to putting our best effort on the ice.

On if it's more special playing Colorado:

I'd like to get a win against them, it's been one of those teams that has escaped me a little bit but I'm really looking forward to just putting together a solid game, giving the team a chance to win and at the end of the night hopefully we're raising our sticks.

On not having success against Colorado since the trade:

I think we took them to overtime in Colorado last year, last year at home wasn't our best outing but it's just one of those things where you want to win every game possible. It doesn't matter what team it is. The longer you've played this game, the more teams you're played for, the more rivalries you have. It just hasn't worked out against Colorado. It depends on the year, the players, the day of the week. I'm sure there's lots of stats for the day of the week of 7:00 p.m. games or 7:30 games. I'll have to go back and check those out.

11:50 AM: Senators head coach Paul MacLean offered his thoughts ahead of tonight's home opener at Canadian Tire Centre. Here's what he had to say...

On the lineup:

We're going to put Erik Condra in the lineup and take out Colin Greening. We're going to keep Cowen and Hoffman out as well. Craig Anderson will be the goalie.

On Phillips:

He's a steady veteran player and gives us some stability back there. That's what we like.

On getting Lazar back in:

We feel that Curtis needed a chance to catch his breath, he has been through a lot but we've certainly liked the way he has played. Tonight we're going to give him an opportunity to be on the wing and play and, again, see if he can keep his game consistent or elevate it. We're looking forward to watching him.

On if he's happy with the play to this point:

We're happy with a lot of aspects of it except, as I said yesterday, scoring chances and shots on goal were higher than we would have liked them. We've been better in our own zone defending, the execution is something we'd like to see get better with our group. To this point we're very happy with the work we've put in and the results we're getting, we just need to keep working at it.

On what he wants to see tonight:

We have to make sure we're ready at the start of the game and try to come out and dictate the way the game is and not test the waters or see how the game is going to go. To be at home and play our game and get to our game right away and not be sitting around waiting to see what's going to happen. Let's come out and let's dictate the way the game is played.

On Phillips' minutes:

If he keeps playing in the 30 minute range we could be wearing him out, but at this point it's early in the season and there's lots of energy in him right now. Right now we need him to play that much. At some point in time we'd like to see the minutes balance themselves out a little bit, but the best players play and if you're one of the best players we better keep playing you. That's the rule we're trying to go by and he has been one of our best players so we've got to get him out there.

On Colorado:

They've got good team speed, their forward group has been very good. MacKinnon is in the centre now so I think that makes a difference for them, they still have Duchene and O'Reilly that play well through their. Their team game, they've been known to play with speed so we've got to be ready to skate and we're going to have to be ready to go from offence to defence quickly without any pauses.

10:45 AM: Morning skate has come and gone for the Senators...

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After 3 whistles from Coach, morning skate is officially over. #Sens

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10:00 AM: In a countdown rivaled only by New Year's, we're now just hours away from the Ottawa Senators' home opener at Canadian Tire Centre where they will take on the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30 p.m.

The Senators returned to Ottawa with two wins in their first three games this season after they knocked off the Florida Panthers by a 1-0 score in Sunrise this past Monday. Clarke MacArthur scored the lone goal for the Senators while Craig Anderson was stellar in goal, stopping 30 Panthers shots to earn his first win and shutout of the season.

The Avalanche have gotten off to a slow start to their season, posting a 1-2-1 record through four games with their lone win coming in Boston over the Bruins. In their last game, Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene scored goals for the Avs while Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves, but they ultimately fell by a 3-2 score to the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime.

The Sens will hit the ice for their morning skate today at 10:15 a.m. and I'll have plenty of updates to follow including, but not limited to, lineup changes, players' thoughts, Sens TV videos, Instagram goodness and more.

Stay tuned!

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