Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 15, 2010

The Ottawa Senators’ challenging road trip got off on the right foot against the Boston Bruins Saturday night, but their next opponent is even tougher.

Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 15, 2010
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

THE STORY: The Ottawa Senators’ challenging road trip got off on the right foot against the Boston Bruins Saturday night, but their next opponent is even tougher. The Philadelphia Flyers are feeling no ill effects from their long run through the playoffs last season and, interestingly, seem to be getting stronger with every passing game. Perhaps watching the Chicago Blackhawks pass the Stanley Cup around their rink last June is a motivating factor.

THE SUBPLOTS: Is it a coincidence that the Senators posted their first shutout in Filip Kuba’s first game back on defence after breaking his leg during training camp? Almost certainly yes, but don’t underestimate his value to this team. This is a player who can post close to 50 points over a full season, and his calming presence allows sophomore Erik Karlsson the freedom to wheel and deal the way he did towards the end of last season. Kuba gives the Senators a very solid Top Six.

THE WILDCARD: Sergei Bobrovsky. How many years has it been since Philadelphia goaltending was looked upon as a strength, not a liability? Russian Sergei Bobrovsky has been saying ‘nyet’ to shooters enough to post a ,932 save percentage and 2.08 GAA though 13 games this season. His presence pretty much guarantees there won’t be a repeat of Ottawa’s 7-4 win over the Flyers last season.

THE OPPONENT: Philadelphia has been dominant on both sides of the puck this season. Only the Washington Capitals score more goals per game (3.61 to 3.41) than the Flyers, and only four teams (Kings, Bruins. Habs and Blues) average fewer goals against. With a talented, young forward corps and a defence anchored by punishing elder statesman Chris Pronger, this is the team to beat in the East.

THE QUOTE: Just a couple of times, when they did crash the net, he was strong in the crease, he didn’t get pushed around, and he was able to control the rebounds. Against a team like Boston that’s a very strong, physical team and goes to the net hard, it’s so important to not allow rebounds.” — Senators coach Cory Clouston on one of the keys to Brian Elliott’s 2-0 shutout Saturday.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — No injuries. Flyers — G Brian Boucher (back surgery, indefinite), RW Ian Laperierre (concussion, indefinite), W Matt Walker (hip surgery, indefinite), W Andreas Nodl (foot, questionable).

THE PREDICTION: The Senators can move into fourth place in the Eastern Conference if they knock off the Philadelphia Flyers tonight — the exact position a certain prediction panelist picked them to finish at the end of the season. Blatant bragging on my part? Yes, but as my record on our prediction panel shows, I need to take what I can get at this point. Fortunately for the Ottawa, I’m picking the Flyers to win tonight. If ever there was a guarantee of two points for the Mighty Sens, this is it. Flyers 6, Senators 3.

What do you think? Leave a comment