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Gameday Journal presented by Monarch Homes: Game 16 — Canadiens vs. Senators

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

4:10 PM: Get set for puck drop with Gord Wilson and the best Sens game preview in the business.

3:45 PM: Today's Gameday Goodie catches up with Jason Spezza who recorded his 400th assist on Tuesday and has recorded more goals (28) against Montreal than any other team. Take a look...

3:20 PM: Mika Zibanejad scored his first NHL goal against the Habs in January and had a solid playoff campaign against them in the summer. Here's what he had to say ahead of tonight's game...

On playing Montreal after scoring his first goal, 2013 playoffs, etc:

Obviously I guess the first NHL goal and the first playoff goal came against them and it's special. It's something I'll always have, but I've just got to try and keep that streak going. I like playing against them, they're a fun team to play against. If it's here or in Montreal it's always a good atmosphere and the game means a lot. I think I like those kind of games and hopefully it can carry on today.

On rivalries he has played in:

We had our own Stockholm rivalry and it was huge, a lot of people, it was all intense on the ice and even in the stands, but obviously this is something different. When you have maybe eight or nine thousand more people than back home. It's different but obviously I love this one.

On his game thus far:

Good — I think the work ethic is there, that's there, but I feel like the adjustment to playing the wing is still coming and it's something I still have to work on. I just take it as it comes. I can't force anything and it's just a process I have to go through I think. Hopefully I can play well and keep playing well and just do what I do.

On playing alongside Spezza:

It's good, I mean, obviously he's a great centre and he plays a bit different. I think I have to read off him and adjust a bit more because he can find those passes. It's just up to me to be where he's looking for me and to be where he can hit me. We just need to get that going and it takes a bit. It's not going to come automatically and it's not going to build up over a game. I think the more and more you play with each other the more you find each other and stuff so hopefully we can just keep going here and keep winning.

2:45 PM: Robin Lehner gets the start in goal for the Sens tonight. In two career games against Montreal he is 0-0-1 with a 2.57 GAA and .938 save percentage.

Here's what he had to say about tonight's game...

I think this type of game fits us. It's a good test for us — we need some good tests going forward here. I think we're well on our way and we've got to keep going.

2:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Sens and Habs...

Ottawa Senators


MacArthur - Turris - Ryan

Greening - Spezza - Zibanejad

Michalek - Smith - Neil

Kassian - Grant - Conacher


Cowen - Karlsson

Methot - Borowiecki

Phillips - Gryba




Montreal Canadiens


Bournival - Plekanec - Gionta

Galchenyuk - Eller - Gallagher

Bourque - Desharnais - Pacioretty

Moen - White - Parros


Markov - Subban

Gorges - Diaz

Murray - Bouillon




2:00 PM: Here's what Bobby Ryan had to say prior to his first venture into a Sens/Habs game...

1:30 PM: Here's what Sens head coach Paul MacLean had to say after today's morning skate...

On tonight's lineup:

No (changes), the lineup will be the same.

On Craig Anderson:

Good sign he's still out there on the ice but he won't be backing up tonight and he won't be playing. It's a real good sign he was out early, stayed through the practice and stayed late for the extra work. I haven't talked to him since but I would take that as very positive.

On tonight's expectations:

Well I expect it to be — I'm looking forward to it — I think it's going to be an exciting game. It's an important game for us because from the standpoint of we've only won one in a row. We feel like we've played better in our last three games but now the challenge can we continue to do it. Montreal provides a difficult opponent but at the same time it's an opponent we know we can get ready for, we expect it's going to be a difficult game and we look forward to it.

On division games:

Every team in the league is a difficult opponent and a good game, but divisional games are — right now we're just worried about game-by-game, not so much who we're playing as how we're playing. Tonight we know we need to play well.

On if rivalries really matter:

Well I think from my experience that if you're getting ready to play the Anaheim Ducks it's a little different than playing the Montreal Canadiens. I'll always say that every game is important in itself and on its own, but there's different opponents that you don't need to work at it to get yourself ready to go. If you're playing maybe the Western Conference teams you haven't played in a long time or playing the team that you played in the playoffs and had a rugged playoff series with, you're more apt to take less to get ready for that game than it would be another opponent.

On if Montreal prep feels different after the playoffs:

I think last year we had a lot of good games against Montreal, we always had — every game has been good. We'll see tonight. We don't think it's any different. We know it's a difficult opponent, we know they're going to play well, they're going to play hard, their goaltender is very good, their special teams are good. We know we're going to have to be ready for a difficult opponent. That's always been the way it is. Playoff rivalries or rivalries can be built in the playoffs and we expect it's going to be a difficult game tonight and we've got to be ready for that.

On the struggles at home to this point:

That would be a nice habit to get rid of. We have home games here in November so, again, this is we've played well in our last three games. Can we play well again? That's the challenge for us. If we can play well again here tonight and the bulk of our games the rest of November are at home and we'd like to get some traction and get moving.

On Cory Conacher:

We're trying to find what's working for us. I don't think Cory is all alone in being moved around the lineup. We've had a lot of guys who have been moving parts in our lineup over the first 15 games and he's one of them and we're just trying to find something that works. For him, he's always in the lineup. He continues to play and he has played top-to-bottom type of thing, but right now it's more of how the other guys that are playing in front of him are playing as opposed to what he's doing. We think he's playing hard. We need him to hang on to the puck a little bit more and get the opportunity to shoot it more and shoot it more, but his tenacity and his abilities on the forecheck have been fine…We like him as a good four, you guys give them numbers, I don't give them numbers. He's playing with who he is playing with and we get him on the ice. We're fine with how he's playing.

On Karlsson and Subban:

They're both defencemen so they don't always get to play head-to-head type of thing, but any time in my experience a couple of the best players in the game are playing in the game and probably will. It could be good.

On his encounters with Michel Therrien:

I think the players played the playoff series and not Michel and I. To me, it's nothing. The players decided it.

10:30 AM: The Sens are on the ice at Canadian Tire Centre...

9:30 AM: You wanted a rivalry game? You got one.

The Senators have returned home to Ottawa to kick off a five game homestand beginning with tonight's matchup with the Montreal Canadiens. These two teams, as you may recall, had some history develop after a rather heated playoff series last May. This is their first true meeting since that series — preseason doesn't count.

The Canadiens sit one place ahead of the Sens in the Atlantic Division standings with 17 points in 16 games (8-7-1). They are 4-3-0 away from home to this point in the season.

The Sens will be hitting the ice for their morning skate today at 10:15 from Canadian Tire Centre 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.

Stay tuned!

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