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Heading into tonight's game, there was already a lot of angst amongst Flyers fans thanks to the organization's moves over the previous several hours, and the club's pummeling tonight by the 29th-place Ottawa Senators won't help any bit.
The Flyers had a promising start, applying significant offensive pressure against Craig Anderson, who once again excelled for the Senators, but after the Flyers were unable to capitalize on four powerplay opportunities and only had a Scott Hartnell goal to show for the first thirty minutes of game play, one had to become a bit wary that the Flyers' inability to finish was going to come back to hurt them. And hurt them it did.
On Ottawa's first powerplay of the night, Nick Foligno outworked both Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen in the Sens' offensive right corner, stepped a few feet above the goal line and from a sharp angle sent Brian Boucher's water bottle flying into the air. From there on, the Senators began skating circles around the Flyers, and just under four minutes later, Erik Condra scored his first NHL goal from right out in front, burying a centering feed from Ryan Shannon. Midway through the third period, Chris Phillips, subject of a significant volume of contract negotiation and trade rumors over the past few days, let go of a wrist shot from the point that made it all the way past Boucher, who appeared to simply not see it, despite a relative lack of traffic in front of him. Condra would strike again with less than two minutes remaining in the third period, redirecting an Erik Karlsson point shot to put the game even further out of reach.
The effort was simply not there from the Flyers tonight, and oh man, did it show. The Senators were naming the tune of the game, and the Flyers were more than content to sing along. Actually, it would be unfair to one Philadelphia player to generalize so broadly like that. Nikolay Zherdev played one heck of a hockey game, both in the Ottawa zone and in his own zone. He had two glorious opportunities, including a breakaway just a minute into the first period, but Anderson came up with top-notch stops both times. Perhaps he really has turned over a new leaf; only time will tell, but let his play tonight be further proof that if he wants to, Zherdev can be a difference maker in all three zones.
Assorted notes, answers to questions and the comment of the night after the jump...
- Before the game, the Senators held a ceremony for Youth Mental Health Awareness Night in honor of former Flyer and current Ottawa assistant coach Luke Richardson's daughter Daron. Players wore a logo on the back of their helmets, and the coaching staffs and broadcasters wore purple ties. It's a subject people don't want to talk about, but doing your part to talk about it is the best way to help.
- Hartnell's goal was a thing of beauty. He received a tremendous off-the-boards pass from Claude Giroux that allowed him to get around the All-Star rookie Karlsson, and despite a sharp angle at the bottom of the near left circle, was able to place the puck perfectly high, glove side on Anderson.
- Francis Lessard, who spent three seasons with the Phantoms some ten years ago, played tonight for Ottawa. He saw 3:23 of ice time.
- Have to bring up the enigma that is Nik Zherdev again. He was clearly ready for the game, had great jump from the drop of the puck, and (gasp!) made numerous great passes.
- The Flyers outshot the Senators 15-3 in the first period, but were outshot by Ottawa in the second and third periods. Final shot count was 31-29 in favor of the Flyers.
- With just under three minutes remaining in the third period, Giroux was crunched along the board by Colin Greening, which caused one of the skirmishes this matchup has become so famous for. The Senators ended up with a two-minute powerplay, during which Condra scored his second goal.
- If the Flyers want to have another extended season, their powerplay is going to need to get better. You can't expect to win the Stanley Cup if you can't regularly convert on man-advantage opportunities. End of story.
- Peter Laviolette was incredibly terse in his post-game interview with the media, and he's completely justified in being so. I'm no Nostradamus, but I see a lot of skating in the Flyers' future, especially since they have until Thursday before their next game.
- In totally unexpected news, the Flyers have officially sent Gustafsson back to the Phantoms and have "recalled" James van Riemsdyk.
- The Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival is tomorrow. If you're going, enjoy. If you're not, you can watch coverage from 2-4 PM tomorrow afternoon on Comcast SportsNet.
- Zherdev? More performances like this from him and he should find himself transported from the press box and onto the ice a lot more often.
- Gustafsson? Took a big hit in his first shift, made a big hit a few shifts later, pinched in a few times and was able to get back in position when necessary. Made an excellent play in center ice to prevent a Senators rush into the Flyers zone in transition. Otherwise, he was more or less unnoticeable in 16:06 of ice time (which included 44 seconds on the powerplay), which is really what you're hoping for from a defenseman playing in his first NHL game.
- The Sens are the worst team in hockey, for all intents and purposes. The Flyers treat them that way, right? If by "treat them that way," you mean "play down to them that way," then yeah, absolutely.
- The fourth line was horrible the other night, clearing missing Blair Betts as a defensive force. Can those issues be corrected tonight? Powe took a minor penalty and was even in 7:09 of ice time (just 53 seconds of the Flyers' 4:28 of PK time, though), Carcillo was even in 6:42 of ice time and Shelley was even and had a shot in 5:41 of ice time. So that's an improvement.
So, who’s going to attend the Carnival tomorrow and go up to Richie and say, boy you guys really sucked last night?>> LVHokejs, who later cautioned that you probably don't want to really do this