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Game 29, Preview and Open Thread: Keep On Winnin', Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers

#7 Ottawa Senators (14-11-4, 32 pts) at #11 Philadelphia Flyers (14-13-1, 29 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN Philly HD, TSN 2 HD
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 205
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Silver Seven

When the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Ottawa Senators a little under a month ago, it was their fifth straight win. Since then, the Flyers have won just four games, but they'll try to start another win streak tonight as the host that team from that other Nation's Capital.

That night in November, the Flyers dictated the pace throughout, outworking the Sens on their way to a decisive 5-1 victory. It's clear that since then, those attributes have been much less than a certainty, but with their new coach trying to beat an identity defined by hard work and discipline into his team, tonight is a good night to continue on with that theme.

The hard work part was pretty evident against the Isles on Tuesday night, and they even showed it against Montreal on Monday. The discipline part, on the other hand, has been a different story, and in one stretch of the second period against New York, the wheels came off that bus. It allowed Tavares and Company to get back in to an otherwise lopsided game and, more often than not, that will come back to bite a team in the ass.

Luckily, it didn't hurt the Flyers on Tuesday, but Peter Laviolette certainly took notice, skating his team hard at Wednesday's practice. Let's hope they got the message and that we don't see a similar occurrence tonight. Dan Carcillo is still out of the lineup, helping the disciplined cause, of course.

Another major theme the Flyers must carry over from Tuesday night's win lies with the top two lines. They did the goal scoring against the Islanders, and they'll have to do continue to do that throughout the season. If Arron Asham and Ian Laperriere, no offense to those guys, are the best players on the ice for the Flyers throughout the rest of the season, this team will go nowhere.

Meanwhile, Ottawa comes in with a whole host of their own issues. They've lost five of their last six and have been called out publicly by the general manager and their owner. Some of their top scorers, notably Jason Spezza and Alexei Kovalev, aren't scoring. Their best defenseman is probably Filip Kuba, which goes to show you how good they are on defense. They have a goals for/against differential of minus-7. And their starting goaltender is out of the lineup because his own teammate hit him in the head with a puck while he was on the bench during a game.

Still, the Senators are in a playoff position, much more than the Flyers can say right now. They also have Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher, and Milan Michalek, who have all been very successful with the putting the puck in the net thing so far this season.

Watch out for Jarkko Ruutu tonight if you're heading down to the Center. He's a dirty SOB.

After the jump, Flyers line combinations, questions to answer, this evening's starting goaltenders, and of course, our in-game open thread.

Flyers Line Combinations - no changes from Tuesday
Hartnell - Richards - Giroux
JVR - Carter - Briere
Laperriere - Pyorala - Asham
Nodl - Kalinski - Laliberte

Starting Goaltenders - tale of two Brian's

Brian Boucher 9 474 3 5 20 2.53 207 187 .903 0

Brian Elliott 15 856 6 6 43 3.01 412 369 .896 0

Questions To Answer

  1. Can the Flyers keep themselves out of the penalty box for prolonged stretches tonight?
  2. Will the power play sustain the success they had on Tuesday night?
  3. Does the top line continue its sexy-looking play?
  4. Can Boucher keep up his hot play?
  5. How successful are the Flyers in keeping the Sens big guns off the score sheet?
  6. Does Jarkko Ruutu kill a guy?

Tonight's game will be broadcast locally on CSN Philly, nationally across Canada on TSN 2, and locally on radio on 610 WIP. As always, join us here for the conversation, and LET'S GO FLYERS!