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Gameday Journal presented by Monarch Homes: Game 37 — Panthers vs. Senators

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

5:30 PM: Gord Wilson and Sens TV get you set for puck drop...

5:00 PM: Mika Zibanejad, no longer the baby of the Sens locker room, is the subject of today's Gameday Goodie as he talks a little bit about Christmas.

4:30 PM: Here are tonight's projected lineups for the Sens and Panthers...

Ottawa Senators


MacArthur - Spezza - Michalek

Zibanejad - Turris - Ryan

Kassian - Pageau - Condra

Greening - Smith - Neil


Methot - Karlsson

Phillips - Ceci

Cowen - Corvo




Florida Panthers


Huberdeau - Bjugstad - Upshall

Bergenheim - Barkov - Boyes

Fleischmann - Goc - Kopecky

Barch - Matthias - Hayes


Campbell - Gilbert

Kulikov - Weaver

Olsen - Gudbranson




4:00 PM: Craig Anderson gets back in goal tonight for the Sens against the Panthers, who he has had

On getting back in:

Well it's always good to play and get an opportunity to get in there and do a job for the guys and, for me, I've just got to focus on stopping the puck and giving the team a chance to win.

On if struggles change his mindset:

Not really, a bad memory is probably the best thing I have. I look back at past good performances and build off of those and forget about the poor performances or take it in your mind and change the outcome in your mind. Right now it's just a head game and you've got to beat yourself.

On what he can do as a leader:

Do my job. Everyone has a job in here and my job is to stop the puck. When I give the team a chance to win, that's when I'm at my best and that's when we're feeling good about ourselves in here. You can't do too much, you've just got to stay within your boundaries, make sure you work hard, do the things that you do right and do it well.

On the GM addressing a team:

It's usually not a good sign. Obviously we need to be better and that starts with everybody in the room, putting out a 100 per cent effort, playing the right way and playing for each other. That's what it comes down to is we're a family in here and we need to start playing for each other on a consistent basis.

On Marc Methot's return:

Marc has been a big part of this team for the past two years. He eats up a lot of minutes, he's a solid defensive defenceman that plays tough and keeps teams from wanting to go near him. He's a physical guy and he punishes guys when he gets the opportunity.

On success against Florida:

History has been good to me against this team but it doesn't matter what happened in the past, you still have to do the job today. Looking forward here, we have a job to do and my job is to give the team a chance to win and it doesn't matter what jersey you're playing against. It just so happens the statistics are on my side but you can throw those out the window because you've still got to go play the game.

On the consistency struggles:

I think I've said before, my job is to control what I can control and I can control how I prepare how I work and how I get ready for games. Consistency is obviously a collective thing that, when everybody plays together, plays better, everyone kind of plays more consistent. I really don't have a definite answer. If we did maybe we would have a magic wand we could swing and make everything better.

On the push to be better:

From a players standpoint it hasn't been good enough. We've shown signs of playing together and playing well and some nights those are just thrown out the window. From that standpoint, you're not going to be your best every night. We're human, we make mistakes, but you can live with mistakes when you work hard and play together. That's where we need to be, we need to be a collective unit that's working hard and battling for each other and we'll deal with the mistakes when they happen if they're made out of being decisive and being hard working.

3:00 PM: Here's what Bobby Ryan had to say after the morning skate...

On the compete level in New Jersey:

I don't know, we obviously didn't bring it on the trip. We had a great show of it on whatever night it was against St. Louis and last night was a complete deflation of all the things you said, energy, emotion, compete level, from every single guy in the room.

On why they were flat:

I don't know, I'd be doing your job, we're asking the same things. I don't know if it's complacency after an emotional win in this case, in general I don't like to think that's the case with this team and this group of guys. An interesting stat was we've won one game nine in a row and failed to win the second nine times. I don't know if that's it or they layoff in between in the schedule. There's a million reasons why it could be but I can't place a finger on one any more than you guys can.

On if there is a lack of leadership:

I don't think so and I don't know with a guy like Alfie leaving, there's a transition period for guys that are learning to be leaders. I don't think they're failing to get their point across, I don't think it's falling on deaf ears by any means. I think the right guys say the right things at the right times and it's not just on the guys that wear the letters. I think some of us and not ruling myself out need to lead by example a little more and recognize that anyone can be a leader in their own right. To put it on those three guys because they wear the letters is unfair, we all have to do that to a tee.

On Bryan Murray's role in the meeting last night:

Vocal, we'll just go with that. Vocal.

On the post-game meeting message:

Ruling out all of the expletives, wake up. Wake up and show up and I think what I took most out of it is we can be the most maddening team he has ever seen. That's a team that shows up against St. Louis, plays a great hockey game, complete for 63 minutes or whatever it was and then play zero against a team like New Jersey.

On the answers coming from within the room:

They do, we're ultimately the players that go on the ice and perform come game time and even the guys that aren't playing, we have to find it within ourselves. The X's and O's are there, the structure is there, they give us all of the tools to succeed and we're not doing it. Why? I don't know, but it's not going to come from anywhere else. It's not going to come from a media scrum or speculation, it has just got to happen within the 23 odd guys in this room.

On the team needing to get angry:

I would agree with him, there was no push back, we're down one, two, three quite a bit and at that time — today he used the term survival mode and that's what it looks like at times. You don't want to be the next guy who makes it 4-0. That's playing safe and I think in this league safe is death a lot of times. We have to channel our emotions and anger would probably be the right word, to get angry out there and find ways to compete for the next 55, whatever it might be. Last night I think it was 2-0 five minutes in or something like that. To play angry for the last 55 minutes, maybe something different happens, you never know.

1:45 PM: Sens head coach Paul MacLean had a lengthy chat with the media after today's optional morning skate. Here's what he had to say...

On tonight's lineup:

We're going to put Kassian in, take Conacher out, Methot in, Wiercioch out and Craig Anderson will be the goaltender. Line combinations are — we'll wait until the bingo balls fall out of the hopper and see what comes out.

On his post-game remarks:

We don't play hard enough, we don't play long enough and that hasn't changed. We're here again today trying to find solutions, trying to find a way to fix it however that is. We've obviously tried lots of things to this point that works for a game, we can't seem to get it going to the next game. We have to keep trying.

On the post-game meeting message:

That's between players and us.

On the coaching staff:

We could be better too, we're all part of the whole group. We have to find ways to deliver the message better than we have or teach better or coach better. We have to do things better, whether it's line combinations, line changes, ice time, we have to evaluate ourselves as we do after every game and, frankly, we haven't done a good enough job too. It's not all on the players, they go out and play but there is still responsibility from us as a coaching staff. We're not really friendly all the time in there either.

On line juggling:

We've done that at times, put lines together and let them run together and that hasn't worked either. I think we've tried a lot of different solutions to this point in the season and nothing has worked consistently. The only thing that is consistent is that we're not consistent. That comes down to work ethic, that comes down to leadership, that comes down to structure and all of those things, one or the other, we're missing. It's all there together at the same time for whatever reason.

On what he wants from the leadership group:

The structure of our game and do things right and make sure the team is ready to play.

On Ryan's PP time:

We scored twice quickly. He was on the first power play at the end, the next time they went out they were coming off a shift and then Mika went out and scored. There wasn't any direction in that, if guys go out and scored we put them back on the ice.

On Spezza and the captaincy:

I think it's easy to go there, for me leaership is everybody. It's myself, it's my coaching staff, it's our training staff, it's every player in the room. Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips and Chris Neil are representatives of the leadership of our team but they're not the only guys. Everyone is accountable, everyone has to provide leadership on a daily basis and we haven't done that as a group. They're representatives of it so the onus is there and they do most of the talking about it but it's not just them. Yes, they have to be better but every one of us has to be better and more consistent in our preparation and attention to detail and how you have to play to be successful in the National Hockey League.

On Spezza's game:

We've asked him to make changes to his game to a more complete game and more 200 foot game and when you go through changes in your game the offensive side of it a lot of times suffers and I think he's starting to get through that. He created some opportunities last night and in previous games but we'd like it to be a little bit quicker. We're seeing an improvement in it but we'd like to see it speed up a little bit more than it has. It's a process, it takes time and we have to be willing to be patient with it, but at the same time we need him to be better, especially in power play situations.

On why things haven't improved after 35 games:

We're still saying the same thing, so we haven't got consistent work ethic, structure and leadership in our group since day one. We still don't have it. We're still searching for our best team, we're still searching for our best game and we haven't found it yet. We've execution issues, structure, systems, but if you work hard and your leadership group makes sure the team is prepared to play you should have an opportunity to have success.

On last season's success creating complacency:

I don't think we did, no, not consciously. We knew the expectations we created, we knew it was going to be difficult, we addressed it and we haven't risen to them. We haven't come up to that level of expectation we created for ourselves. Maybe that's too daunting a task as it turns out, I'm not sure, but we haven't been near the team that finished the year last year that's playing now. We still have a great belief in this team that it's a good team, that it's a better team, but it's having a hard time finding itself now.

On what's expected from Methot:

More consistent play, like a player with 400 games of experience in the NHL should play. He's coming off the flu, he lost some weight, we wanted to make sure he got some good practices in, Wiercioch played pretty good, six guys that played the previous game played pretty well, so he's back in the lineup tonight. We just want to see him be Marc Methot.

On if Methot was a healthy scratch vs. New Jersey:

Technically you could say. We just didn't want to change the lineup because he was coming off the flu and was getting stronger, but if you want to call it a healthy scratch you can. We just played the team that won the night before.

On the team overcoming tough calls:

I think any team in the league would have a hard time with a couple that went there last night. In my experience in the National Hockey League to get respect from the referees, you earn it. You earned by the way you play, how hard you and how you play the game. We don't play hard enough, referees don't respect us, we take lots of penalties. That, to me, is a direct correlation between the effect of the officiating and how your team plays.

On his dealings with officials:

I try to be civil. It's done, they see it once, I get to go in and watch it 15 times on video. It's pretty easy for me to say you made a bad call. He sees it in a tenth of a second and has to make the call. I think you have to have tons of respect for the work they do and how hard their job is, but at the same time, we feel the two goals they scored last night were a direct result of fouls committed on our players. But, we don't have the orange armbands on and it's not a penalty until they put their hand up. We can't expect them to help us, we can't expect the league to help us, the only people that can help us be a better team is us.

On if the refs admitted missing calls:

I wouldn't say that, no. They admitted they saw it another way.

On Spezza and Karlsson as high risk players:

Well, we've asked them both to play a simpler game but at the same time when they're making those plays they're actually trying to win. You don't want to take that, necessarily, out of their game. Yes, they do some risky things but they're trying to win, they're trying to make plays. We want the whole team to play with structure and with work ethic first and then once we've established that and we have that going for us then those plays they try to make have a much better opportunity of working than if you're trying to do that all the time.

10:00 AM: The Sens will play the second leg of a back-to-back tonight when they take on the Florida Panthers at Canadian Tire Centre.

The Sens are coming off of a tough loss which saw them beaten by a 5-2 score in New Jersey by the Devils. Colin Greening and Milan Michalek both scored power play goals for the Sens but it wasn't enough to salvage an underwhelming performance.

The Panthers have slowly turned their season around and with a 6-4-0 record in their last 10. They currently sit second from the bottom in the Atlantic Division with a 13-17-5 mark, good for 31 points. In their last game out, the Panthers topped the Toronto Maple Leafs by a 3-1 score.

The Sens will hit the ice for their morning skate at 10:15 AM 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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