The Ottawa Senators look to find a new consistency to their game when they pay a visit to a steadily improving Flyers club that is looking to continue the climb out of the basement in their division.
(7-10-2, 16 points) 8th Metropolitan Division
7:00 PM Wells-Fargo Centre
TV: Rogers Sportsnet; RADIO: TSN1200
HEAD TO HEAD
These teams met just last Tuesday in Ottawa, and it is one game the Senators would like to forget. They had no answer for the Flyers, and Craig Anderson struggled in his return from a neck injury. The Flyers skated away with a 5-0 victory.
If the Flyers game last week wasn’t rock bottom, then certainly the Senators’ 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets on Sunday was. Hopefully. The sad thing is that a good effort against a tougher opponent on Friday night (4-2 win over Boston) was sandwiched in the middle of two of the weaker performances of the season. Philadelphia is well rested, having last played Friday night, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Jets.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Vincent Lecavalier, PHI – The former Lightning captain has been up and down for the Flyers, and the injuries haven’t helped. If the Flyers are going to continue to march toward the playoffs, they need Vinny to give support to first line centre Claude Giroux. Lecavalier has 7 goals and 3 assists in 15 games so far this season.
Mika Zibanejad, OTT – Whether it was through poor play from Kyle Turris, or coach MacLean looking to shake things up, Zibanejad skated in the third period with Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, and didn’t look out of place. He has yet to get a consistent look as a top 6 forward this season, and that could be due to the stubbornness of the coaching staff to try to keep him at centre.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Neil’s 800 – Its not often a tough guy gets 800 games in this league, let alone 800 for the same team. Fan favorite Chris Neil will be playing in that milestone game tonight.
2. Lehner Time? – The starting goalie has not yet been named, but if it is not Robin Lehner, I for one will be disappointed. Anderson needs to work on some things in his game, and has played 2 really good periods among the 9 since he returned, and with Lehner having won his 3 straight starts deserves to get back in the net with Anderson’s struggles, no matter who is considered “#1″. I have not given up on Anderson, but right now it is obvious Lehner offers a better chance to win, and the Senators can’t afford to give away points while Anderson finds his game.
3. “Special” Game – The Ottawa penalty kill is under 50% in the last 3 games (4/9) while the power play was just over 11% in that same time frame. Those stats include allowing the Flyers to go 2 for 3 with the man advantage last week. That is not a recipe for success, while 5 on 5 they have only been outscored 6-4 in those games. They need more production with their special teams going forward.
While the Flyers limped into the season with a dreadful start, they are actually 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and are clawing their way into the playoff race. They are not a gimme team, and the Senators can’t afford to take anyone lightly, let alone a talented team like the Flyers.