Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers (5-10-1) travel to the Canadian Tire Centre to take on the Ottawa Senators (7-6-4). The Senators are riding a three game win streak, but sit sixth in the Atlantic Division. This game is the first of a three game road trip for Philadelphia. They head to Pittsburgh tomorrow night and then travel up to Winnipeg on Friday. They will face off of against the Senators again one week from today at the Wells Fargo Center. The game tonight is at 7:30 and it will be televised on CSN Philly.
Things to looks for:
Last night Steve Downie was cleared to play. He has practiced on the third line wing with Couturier and Read and will most likely start on that line tonight. The top two lines should stay the same (19-28-93, 10-40-17) and Rosehill will skate on the fourth line with Hall and Rinaldo. Michael Raffl is traveling with the team on their road trip but will be sitting out tonight due to a bout with the flu. The return of Downie could be just what the doctor ordered for Sean Couturier. He is skating with two talented line-mates who can help shut down the opposition while creating quality scoring chances.
The Flyers have struggled on offense this season while the Senators have struggled on the defensive end. The Senators have allowed 2.8 goals per game, which is 19th in the NHL. Craig Anderson will be making his return from injury toinght as Senators head coach Paul MacLean has decided to sit the NHL first star of the week, Robin Lehner. This is a fantastic opportunity for Philadelphia to score goals. They face a shaky defensive team who is starting a rusty goalie. Steve Mason will get the start for Philadelphia.
Flyers fans, watch #65 on the Senators. His name is Erik Karlsson and he is one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Recently, there has been arguing among fans concerning what kind of player the Flyers organization needs acquire in a trade. Many believe that they need a pure scorer like Thomas Vanek to alleviate their offensive woes, while some believe that a more pressing need is for a top pairing defenseman who can move the puck. I fall into the second category. They have enough big, shut-down defensemen (i.e. Grossmann, Coburn, L.Schenn, Gill) who hurt their ability to move the puck and score. But I don’t need to make my case, I expect Karlsson, who won the Norris trophy at the age of 22 and currently leads all NHL defensemen in scoring (18pts in 17 games), to make my case for me this evening.
Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell scored goals on Saturday while Jakub Voracek notched an assist. For the Flyers to be successful their top line must produce at a high level. Both Giroux and Voracek have shown the ability to be point-per-game players and they need to be the ones who bring this teams’ scoring troubles to an end. If they truly have turned the corner, I expect this game to be fun for Flyers fans. If they revert to their old ways, I expect that we will hear more and more about how the Flyers should have traded for Cherry Hill, NJ native Bobby Ryan. Ryan is a winger who was traded to the Senators this summer after having been rumored/linked to Philadelphia for years. Ryan has 9 goals and 10 assists in 17 games.