The Ottawa Senators take to home ice before a home and home against what were at one point two the bottom dwellers of the Eastern Conference. That has changed, at least for the first opponent of the week, who have turned the corner and have now passed the Senators in the wild card standings.
(13-14-2, 28 points) 6th Metropolitan Division
CANADIAN TIRE CENTRE
TV: Rogers Sportsnet RADIO: TSN1200
This is already the third and final meeting of the season between the teams with the Senators not having fared so well, and that was back when the Flyers were in the doldrums. The first game saw Philadelphia skate away with a 5-0 shutout victory in Ottawa, while a week later the Flyers hosted and downed the Senators 5-2.
Both teams are coming off losses, with the Senators dropping a 4-3 decision in a shootout against the rival Maple Leafs on Saturday night, while Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin each had a 4 point 2nd period to help the Stars down the Flyers 5-1 Saturday afternoon.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sean Couturier – The player the Senators passed over to draft Mika Zibanejad has stepped in to fill some of the scoring void left by Vincent Lecavalier (back) in the in the Flyers lineup and has 10 points in his last 10 games and has a +8 rating on the season.
Mika Zibanejad – One of the bright spots recently for the Senators, Zibanejad has injected some speed and dogged determination to the lineup that needs to spread around the team. He has 8 points in his last 9 games, despite being shuffled between 4th line centre and first line winger roles, often in the same game or period.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Flying Low – Thanks to the struggles recently of the wild card holder Maple Leafs and Lightning, the Senators and Flyers are still in touch with the playoffs. Separated by just 1 point, this is a big game for both sides.
2. Shuffling – While lines have been shuffled around on a game by game basis in Ottawa due to scoring problems, the same has been done in Philly due to injuries. Both teams are looking for improvement and consistency.
3. Giroux – After getting off to a terrible start just like his team, Claude Giroux was all but forgotten when it came to thinking of Team Canada. He might just have clawed his way back into the picture and is playing some pretty good hockey now, at a very important time for his quest for Sochi.
Even when they were playing poorly, the Flyers were a handful for the Senators. Now that they have turned things around, this is one of the teams Ottawa not only needs to beat to get points of their own, but to take points away from one of the clubs they are battling with for position. A win is paramount, but I have been saying that for a week now.