Philadelphia Flyers at Ottawa Senators on Oct. 18, 2011

The Ottawa Senators hope to carry a strong effort in Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals over to this contest against another Stanley Cup contender. If they lose this game to fall to 1-5, even the faintest hopes that they might challenge for a playoff spot will probably fade away.

Philadelphia Flyers at Ottawa Senators on Oct. 18, 2011
Matt Puempel. (Julie Oliver/OttawaCitizen)


THE STORY:
The Ottawa Senators hope to carry a strong effort in Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals over to this contest against another Stanley Cup contender. If they lose this game to fall to 1-5, even the faintest hopes that they might challenge for a playoff spot will probably fade away. At this point, the season is shaping up as expected — with a young team trying to figure out a style and work ethic that will hopefully deliver more wins down the road.

THE SUBPLOTS: This will be the first look the Senators get at the revamped Philadelphia Flyers. Over the summer, general manager Paul Holmgren shipped out captain Mike Richards and talented centre/winger Jeff Carter in an effort to change the team culture in the locker room. He also brought in top-flight regular season goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to shore up a position that has haunted this franchise for some time. The early returns are good — the Flyers are 3-0-1 so far this season — but this team will ultimately be judged by its playoff performance.

THE WILDCARD: Alex Auld. Two starts in a row at this point in the season? A bit of an unexpected turn of events for Ottawa’s other tall and bald goaltender, but he’ll take the work where he can get it. Auld will be back between the pipes after starter Craig Anderson had to miss practice Monday due to a family issue (he’ll back up tonight). Auld stopped 24 of 26 shots against the Caps on Saturday.

THE OPPONENT: For all the mismatches on paper here, the Flyers have had a surprisingly tough time winning games at Scotiabank Place. Philly has lost seven straight games in our nation’s capital, including two against a very weak 2010-2011 Senators team. You get the sense that can’t last forever when you see names like Pronger, Giroux, Timonen and Briere on the opponents’ game sheet, however.

THE QUOTE: “We want everyone to contribute. I don’t think we anticipated him leading us in scoring, like he did in the preseason. I don’t think that was ever a realistic thing. We do expect him to be a good player every day and work at his game every day. And he has done that.” — Senators coach Paul MacLean on rookie Mika Zibanejad, who is nearing the nine-game NHL limit before the first year of his entry-level contract kicks in.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — D Matt Carkner (knee), C Jesse Winchester (shoulder), RW Bobby Butler (groin). Flyers — RW Ian Laperriere (post-concussion syndrome), C Blair Betts (lower-body), LW Andrew Rowe (shoulder), D Brandon Manning (undisclosed).

THE PREDICTION: Lost in all the hullabaloo over the Ilya Bryzgalov signing this summer was a pretty great 2010-2011 campaign for the Flyers’ other “B” keeper, Sergei Bobrovsky (28-13-8, 2.59 GAA). I’m guessing he gets the nod against the struggling Sens, and I think he’ll have a big game. Senators 0, Flyers 5. (SEE WHO THE REST OF OUR PREDICTION PANEL LIKES IN THIS ONE BY CLICKING HERE).

Tags: ,

What do you think? Leave a comment