Game 20 Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Philadelphia Flyers

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Ottawa Senators (8-8-4) @ Philadelphia Flyers (7-10-2), 7:00pm, CSN-Philly/SNET-E/TVA

With a successful road trip, it’s time for the Philadelphia Flyers to provide a successful homestand to potentially put themselves at the hockey .500. After grabbing five of a possible six points on the road last week, the Orange and Black will start their homestand against the Ottawa Senators, the same team they started their road trip against last week.

The road trip didn’t just provide a handful of points for Philly, it provided a lot better play and a sense of confidence among a team that is working their way back into the playoff picture. The team isn’t lighting the lamp that much more than they did at the beginning of the year, but it is clear that their play has improved, as they look like a stronger team without the puck and are playing better defense all around.

If it wasn’t for a Steve Downie penalty late in their most recent contest against Winnipeg, the Flyers could be on a four-game winning streak when they take on the Senators tonight. Instead, the Orange and Black are looking for points in their fifth straight game, while Ottawa has lost two of their last three.

The Flyers dominated every aspect of the teams’ game last week against the Senators, as they won by the count of 5-0. Steve Mason looked great in net, the team capitalized on scoring chances, and limited the Sens’ opportunities on offense. It won’t be that easy for the Flyers again, as Ottawa will most likely be the more desperate team in the game and will be looking to exact revenge for the clubs’ meeting last week.

In addition to gaining a point in the loss on Friday, a positive the Flyers can take away from the loss was their compete level. Despite the fact they haven’t won a game where they were the first team to trail, the Flyers fought off an early goal from Dustin Byfuglien and grabbed the lead before the end of the first period. Unfortunately, they coughed up the lead in the game’s final minutes, but it is a sign of movement in the positive direction. Instead of packing it in and giving up after an early goal, something this team did a lot in the season’s first games, the Flyers erased the early deficit and controlled the pace of the game.

The last four games for Philly have been played at their own rate, as the team has scored early in each of the games and played a defensive brand of hockey to hold on to that lead, with the exception of Friday’s tilt. If this is the type of hockey head coach Craig Berube is looking for, the Flyers should be a competitive team for the remainder of the season. Jumping on the opposition early, holding on to the lead with strong defensive play, and allowing Mason to keep the team in most of the games, Philly has seemed to find a system that suits their players.

After tonight’s game, the Flyers will host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and the New York Islanders on Saturday, two games they can easily win. If the squad can grab two points tonight, a victory against a team that is 5-16-1 and a team that has only won once in regulation over their last seven games shouldn’t be that tall of an order.

Ottawa Senators
Overall: 8-8-4
Road: 4-3-2
Against the Eastern Conference: 7-2-2
Against the Metropolitan Division: 2-2-1

Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 7-10-2
Home: 3-7-0
Against the Eastern Conference: 6-7-1
Against the Atlantic Division: 2-3-0

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

Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen – Eric Gryba
Chris Phillips – Mark Borowiecki

Robin Lehner
Craig Anderson

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
Goals: Bobby Ryan, 10
Assists: Kyle Turris, 14
Points: Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson, 20
Power-Play Points: Erik Karlsson, 7
Plus/Minus: Clarke MacArthur, Plus-12
PIMs: Chris Neil, 39
Average TOI/Game: Erik Karlsson, 27:11
GAA: Robin Lehner, 2.13
Save Percentage: Robin Lehner, .945

Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Vincent Lecavalier, 7
Assists: Claude Giroux, 10
Points: Brayden Schenn, 12
Power-Play Points: Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux, and Vincent Lecavalier – 5
Plus/Minus: Jakub Voracek, Erik Gustafsson, and Tye McGinn – Plus-1
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 36
Average TOI/Game: Braydon Coburn, 22:39
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.13
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .931

Ottawa Senators
Erik Condra – Pulled muscle in his right leg (Questionable)

Philadelphia Flyers

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 Elmira Jackal).