Game 17 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Ottawa Senators

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Philadelphia Flyers (5-10-1) @ Ottawa Senators (7-6-4), 7:30pm, CSN-Philly

Tonight’s meeting with the Senators in Ottawa is an interesting one for several reasons. One reason being the anticipation of Claude Giroux’s first performance after scoring his first goal of the season. We all know about Giroux’s recent goal drought, so we’ll see how he performs tonight after he has the weight of the World lifted off his shoulders.

It’s easy to assume he’ll play more confidently, but what does that lead to? Will the ice suddenly become more open for him, as well as his line partners Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek? Only time will tell, but if the end to Giroux’s goal drought leads to more confidence for the squad overall, and if that confidence leads to more offense, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t be able to compete throughout the season. The goaltending has been there and the defense has been as expected, if not arguably better. All that is missing is the offense at the moment.

Confidence or no confidence, this won’t be an easy game for the Orange and Black. On the road against a team that hasn’t lost in regulation to an Eastern Conference team, the Flyers will need look to control Bobby Ryan, who leads the Senators with 19 points. After a lengthy time where the trade rumors always pointed towards Ryan coming to Philly, it’s interesting to think where this team would be with his scoring ability. If the Flyers want any chance of winning, they’ll need the defense and goaltending to perform like they have for much of the season, as they take on Ryan and Ottawa, who is currently sixth in the NHL with 3.12 goals per game.

Both teams will have a player returning from an injury tonight, as the Flyers add Steve Downie back to the lineup and the Sens add Craig Anderson.

Downie will join Sean Couturier and Matt Read on the third line, which might be a third line that could produce something for the Flyers. The pair of Couturier and Read worked well with Max Talbot, as the trio was able to forecheck to an extent, but they never really had many great scoring chances. Perhaps the switch from Talbot to Downie will create more opportunities for Read and even Couturier.

As for Anderson, this game might be more important to him than most people anticipate. Robin Lehner has done extremely well since Anderson was injured earlier this month, as he has allowed just eight goals over his last five games on his way to posting a save percentage of .945 and a 2.13 GAA. Anderson, who currently has a .912 save percentage and a 3.14 GAA, will need to make sure he at least produces a strong showing.

In net for Philadelphia, Steve Mason will get the nod yet again, as he looks to keep up his strong play. It is an interesting decision for Craig Berube to go with Mason tonight. Either he will use Mason both tonight and tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins, or he trusts Ray Emery enough to take on Pittsburgh. It’s not that Emery isn’t worth trusting, as he has only allowed two goals over his last two starts, but why choose your starter to take on the weaker of the two opponents in a back-to-back? We’ll see how it works out for the Flyers.

Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 5-10-1
Road: 2-3-1
Against the Eastern Conference: 4-7-1
Against the Atlantic Division: 1-3-0

Ottawa Senators
Overall: 7-6-4
Home: 3-3-2
Against the Eastern Conference: 6-0-2
Against the Metropolitan Division: 2-0-1

Philadelphia Flyers
Scott Hartnell – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Brayden Schenn – Vincent Lecavalier – Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read – Sean Couturier- Steve Downie
Zac Rinaldo – Adam Hall – Jay Rosehill

Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Nicklas Grossmann – Mark Streit
Luke Schenn – Erik Gustafsson

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

Ottawa Senators
Milan Michalek – Jason Spezza – Cory Conacher
Clarke MacArthur – Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Colin Greening – Zack Smith – Chris Neil
Matt Kassian – Derek Grant – Mika Zibanejad

Jared Cowen – Erik Karlsson
Marc Methot – Mark Borowiecki
Joe Corvo - Patrick Wiercioch

Craig Anderson
Robin Lehner

Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Vincent Lecavalier, 6
Assists: Claude Giroux, 7
Points: Vincent Lecavalier, Brayden Schenn, and Claude Giroux – 8
Power-Play Points: Claude Giroux and Vincent Lecavalier, 4
Plus/Minus: Tye McGinn, plus-1
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 36
Average TOI: Claude Giroux, 22:15
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.34
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .925

Ottawa Senators
Goals: Bobby Ryan, 9
Assists: Kyle Turris, 14
Points: Bobby Ryan, 19
Power-Play Points: Erik Karlsson, 6
Plus/Minus: Clarke MacArthur, plus-13
PIMs: Chris Neil, 39
Average TOI: Erik Karlsson, 26:59
GAA:  Robin Lehner, 2.13
Save Percentage: Robin Lehner, .945

Philadelphia Flyers

Ottawa Senators
Erik Condra – Leg injury (Injured Reserve)

Former Flyers in Ottawa’s organization
With Ottawa: NONE
With the Binghamton Senators (AHL): Luke Richardson (head coach)
With the Elmira Jackals (ECHL): Marvin Degon (Trenton Titans last season), Maxim Lamarche (in Flyers’ organization), Rob Bellamy(Flyers’ third-round pick in 2004 NHL Entry Draft), Jean Bourbeau (former Adirondack Phantom), Alexandre Carrier (former Trenton Titan), Harry Young (former Trenton Titan), Jordan Pietrus (former Trenton Titan)

Former Senators in Philadelphia’s organization
With Philadelphia: Ray Emery, Andrej Meszaros
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): NONE
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): Andrew Rowe (former Adirondack Phantom)