5:00 PM: Here's some crucial information ahead of tonight's game against Chicago...
Jersey: Heritage Black
Television: TSN5, RDS2
Radio: TSN 1200, Unique FM 94,5
Referees: Dan O'Rourke, Graham Skilliter
Linesmen: Brad Kovachik, Scott Driscoll
4:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Senators and Blackhawks...
MacArthur - Turris - Ryan
Michalek - Zibanejad - Chiasson
Smith - Legwand - Neil
Hoffman - Lazar - Stone
Phillips - Karlsson
Cowen - Ceci
Wiercioch - Gryba
Scratches: Borowiecki, Condra, Greening
Bickell - Toews - Hossa
Sharp - Shaw - Kane
Versteeg - Richards - Morin
Saad - Kruger - Smith
Keith - Seabrook
Hjalmarsson - Oduya
van Riemsdyk - Roszival
Scratches: Rundblad, Carcillo, Crawford
4:00 PM: Senators defenceman Chris Phillips spoke with the media following Thursday's morning skate. Here's what he had to say...
On the importance of goaltending:
There's no percentage that says, "you need this amount." It's a team game and all parts of the game are a complete team effort to come out on top.
On having confidence in Lehner and Anderson:
We do, that's a huge part. They're feeling good and feeling confident themselves right now. It's a huge part of the game.
I think he has brought exactly what we've seen in the past when he's been called up. He puts it all out there, he doesn't back down from anyone. He plays simple and physical and he provides a lot of that for this team... Any time you have a regular that's out, they fill a void that we need on the team. We see what's missing and we all have to do our best to step up and replace it.
On carrying eight defencemen:
We talked about it a week or two ago. It never fails. Everyone is trying to figure out what we're going to do with this abundance of guys and it always happens, it works itself out be it injuries or whatever. It gives opportunities for guys that haven't been seeing the ice as much to step up and show what they're capable of doing.
On giving up a lot of shots:
Well if you're losing (it's too many), you see Muhammad Ali? He took a lot of shots too and he did pretty good. It's not something we want to get into to play that kind of rope-a-dope game if you want to call it that I guess. It's an awareness. Sometimes it's a skewed stat. If 50 shots come from the outside we'll give that any day and our goalies will take that any day. It's making sure we're not giving quality chances in tight, second and third opportunities. If we limit that I'm not too concerned what the number is at the end of the game.
It's been amazing and fun to watch to see what he has been able to accomplish. I wish it was here, he's been to the final four times and won two Cups. We were looking at the stats the other day and Chicago and I think he's got Hall of Fame numbers. It's very impressive... In the grand scheme of things he's underappreciated in that when they talk about the stars of the game he's not mentioned as much as he should be but I know that every team that comes in and faces Chicago, they're talking about him and they know what he's capable of doing out there... He's nearly a point a game, he's close to 1100 games and the other night he was two or three back of 1,000 points with two Stanley Cups and been to the final four times. That and the way he carries himself, he's a classy guy. If I was voting I'd put him in.
3:00 PM: Get caught up to speed on today's news with the Pre-Game Report courtesy of Gord Wilson and Sens TV.
2:00 PM:Clarke MacArthur is coming off of a three point night for the Senators in Columbus on Tuesday night. Here's what he had to say about tonight's challenge against the Blackhawks...
On the Blackhawks:
We know what they're going to do, they're just a good team. They move the puck quick, their D jump into the play, they've got a lot of speed and we've got to do a better job of slowing things up in the neutral zone. Andy stood on his head last game and gave us a chance. We want to make it a little easier on Andy tonight if we can.
On getting a 60 minute effort:
If we can match our second period (from the Columbus game) and play a solid third period, that's how you try to give yourself a chance. They have a good team over there and we're going to have to be ready.
On building off the last game vs. Chicago:
We didn't have a good game and we were close, a lot of that has to do with Andy. That was one of the best games I've seen him play. It's about getting pucks down in there end and eating some of the clock and making their D work. They skate so well that you've got to get them soft in the start down there.
On the shots against being an issue:
It depends, if we can keep them on the outside that's fine, but anything up the middle, one-timers or anything close we have to limit and have better sticks. Their D are active in the offensive zone so you've got to finish your checks and try to pin some guys a bit and slow it down.
On allowing a high number of shots:
We definitely want to limit the shots. Our goalies have both played great every time they've been in. As good a job as we can do in the neutral zone is only going to help us. Limit the turnovers and good backchecks breaking things up is going to be key tonight.
On if they're relying too much on the goalies:
Obviously you expect your goalies to be good. We've got two great goaltenders, they're going to have to stop some rubber and limiting the shots is always something you want to improve on, no question. I think if we build off the last game we had, we played a better second and third and if we can build off that we'll be at least in better shape.
On the second period in Columbus:
We had a tough first period and got into a bit of penalty trouble in the second and still killed things off. We played a smart game and that momentum carried us into the third an we were able to get a couple. I thought we played well with the lead too. We gave a couple of chances up but I thought we played pretty solid.
On trying to find a full 60 minute performance:
60 minutes is tough to do, the other team is out there playing too. You always want to strive for 60 but I don't think that's a realistic thing that's going to happen. You're always going to have little letdowns but the less the better. You shoot for 60 but if we play solid like we did in Columbus we're going to win most games.
1:40 PM: Bobby Ryan spoke to the media after today's morning skate about tonight's second and final meeting with the Blackhawks. Take a look...
12:15 PM: Senators head coach Paul MacLean passed along his updates and offered his thoughts on the Sens' upcoming rematch with the Blackhawks tonight. Here's what he had to say...
On Mark Borowiecki:
He's not going to play tonight, he's not available tonight. That's it.
On Marc Methot:
The skating has ramped up a little bit more every day so that's positive. I still don't think he's close to being a full participant in practice just yet but he is showing some improvement.
On the lineup:
Mike Hoffman is going to go in and obviously Patrick Wiercioch will be going in for Mark Borowiecki. Greening and Condra will be out.
On Borowiecki leaving a hole in the lineup:
I think it's an opportunity for Patrick to come in and play, he has played very well, Jared Cowen can come back for a second game, he has played well. I don't think it leaves a hole. He (Borowiecki) has played well for us but I don't think it leaves a big hole in our defence if he's not playing. I think we should be more than capable with the six we have tonight.
He's been okay. He's still playing, that's a good thing... I haven't decided (if he prefers Lazar at centre or the wing) yet. He has played well at both positions and he has been consistent. Has his play leveled out? Maybe a little bit. We're going to see about that tonight. We're going to try him again at centre to start the game for sure but we've liked the progress we've made. Again, he has been okay.
On taking less penalties after six minors in Chicago:
I think it's something we've stressed, we took another eight in Columbus the next night. The penalties you take, the type you take and how many you take is an important part of the game. That was a focus coming into the season was don't take as many penalties as we have in the past. The way you don't take penalties is move your feet playing defence. We have to do a better job of doing that.
On the performance in Chicago:
We could win more faceoffs. If we start with the puck we have the opportunity to put it in places where we get it back. They're a good team. They're the Chicago Blackhawks. They're perennially one of the best teams in the League, something we're aspiring to be. It's a challenge for us to play them and we look forward to another opportunity tonight to test ourselves against them. At home we get the last change and we could do things differently than we could do in Chicago but we know that there's a big challenge in front of us tonight and we're excited about it.
I think they'll be better. They've been on the road, I'm not sure what the numbers are but with the faceoff percentages we've been pleased with Lazar and Zibanejad's faceoff percentages, they've been pretty good. Legwand, Smith and Turris' numbers are down from last year but I think that's getting into the rhythm and reputation of it and playing a little bit more at home helps a little bit too. Faceoff percentage is another thing we'd like to see go up.
On Bryan Murray and Mark Reeds taking part in Hockey Fights Cancer:
We obviously have a soft spot in our hearts for what they've gone through but everyone is touched by it. Tonight is going to be special with Mark and Bryan on the ice along with Max Keeping who's great in the community here in Ottawa. It's going to be a special night for them.
On what Zibanejad has to do to generate offence:
I think Mika is fine. His faceoff percentage is good, his defensive play is good, he has been the fourth guy on at least five goals I can think of alone. He's been the fourth guy on the play as opposed to the second or the third guy. Is that bad luck? I'm not sure. Is it puck luck? We think Mika could shoot the puck more, he could attack the offensive blueline a little bit more. But, again, he's playing fine.
On if he thinks Zibanejad is hesitant to shoot because he hasn't scored:
We encourage him not to be that, I don't know that he is. He unleashed a pretty good one in Columbus that got blocked the other night. Is it missed shots or blocked? We'd have to look at what his attempt are but I think Mika is playing fine.
On improving the faceoffs immediately:
Wingers can help better, defence can execute better, when there's 50/50 pucks we can do a better job of winning those 50/50s. That helps the faceoff percentage go up a lot because there's a lot of 50/50 pucks on faceoffs. If we can start with the puck more often we should be able to control the shots on goal coming the other way if we're putting pucks in good spots. The big part of shots on goal is establishing a forecheck with good structure. If you've got poor forechecks that can lead to a lot of shots too. Those are two things we're working on — 50/50 draws and good forechecking.
10:00 AM: The Ottawa Senators are back at it tonight at Canadian Tire Centre when they host the Chicago Blackhawks for Hockey Fights Cancer night in Ottawa. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Sens got back in the win column on Tuesday with a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Senators scored three third period goals to earn the victory and received tallies from Clarke MacArthur who had a pair, Zack Smith, Erik Karlsson and Alex Chiasson. Robin Lehner stopped 36 shots to earn his second victory over Columbus this season.
The Blackhawks take on the Senators for the second time this week after the two played on Sunday night. Since then the Blackhawks have played once, dropping a 1-0 game to the Anaheim Ducks. Chicago got 38 shots on Anaheim goaltender John Gibson but ultimately couldn't beat the rookie who earned the win for the Ducks.
The Sens will have their morning skate at 10:15 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.