The Flyers travelled to Ottawa to take on the Senators on Saturday night, where they were unceremoniously dumped, losing 4-0.
Hakstol started the game with the same starting lineups he's used the last several games, with Brayden Schenn on the Giroux (who perhaps was trying a little extra hard today, as his hometown of Hearst, Ontario is just around the corner from Ottawa) line, recent call-up Taylor Leier playing left wing on Laughton's line, and usual first-line left wing Michael Raffl playing on the fourth line. Defensive pairings were also left unchanged, as Shayne Gostisbehere earning another start, being pairing with Brandon Manning. Evgeny Medvedev was again scratched.
Mason got the start in net, hoping to maintain his string of solid performance of late, following some early season hiccups. This lineup has produced some results, as the last two games each resulted in overtime losses that netted the team some much-needed points in the standings, although they probably should have deserved more as they carried the play for large chunks of either game.
The Flyers' opponent this night was the Ottawa Senators, who are building a good but not great start, with 23 points in 19 games entering tonight, which was good enough for 2nd place in the Atlantic division. With usual starter Andrew Hammond sidelined all week after taking a puck to the mask in practice on Sunday, the Sens turned to former starter Craig Anderson to man the net. Like the team as a whole, he too is having an OK enough season (7-4-3, 2.79 GAA, .915). And yes, Cherry Hill Native (TM) Bobby Ryan played in this one as well. Bet you didn't know he was from there, didn't you? You're welcome in advance for dropping that bit of knowledge on you.
Overall, the Flyers had the better play of the first period, outshooting the Sens 10-7 and overall playing the game in the Ottawa end of the ice. The period featured two power plays for each side, all of which were successfully killed. However, on the strength of Gostisbehere, the Flyers' power plays were much more dangerous then Ottawa's, except for a ten-bell chance on the second Ottawa PP. After playing to a promising start, Mika Zibinejad won an offensive zone faceoff to Mike Hoffman, who then fed Cody Ceci at the middle point. Zibinejad drafted to the net unchecked, and deflected Ceci's drive past Mason with 43 seconds left in the first for the lone goal of the first period. It marked the tenth time in twenty games the Flyers trailed after one.
Ottawa netted a second goal on a combination of a bad Couturier offensive zone pass, a bad Michael Del Zotto pinch, and a bad way of playing the resultant 2-on-1 by Radko Gudas. This led to Cherry Hill Native (TM) Bobby Ryan passing to Hoffman, who had a wide open net to deposit the second goal of the game behind Mason for a 2-0 lead. There was absolutely nothing Mason could do to stop the shot.
This occurred right after Giroux hit the post with a shot--had he scored there the game could have ended much differently. However, instead of being demoralized, the Flyers spent the next several shifts in the Ottawa end even if they couldn't convert. With 2:35 left in the third, Milan Michalek converted another chance that Mason may have been able to stop after beating Luke Schenn to create a semi-breakaway to increase their lead to 3-0.
Shots were 16-13 Sens for the period. Through two periods, the shot attempts were 56-38 in favor of Philadelphia, but because of 20 blocked shots and 13 missed shots, the total shots on goal were even at 23.
The Senators opened the third with 1:35 of power-play time, and at the last second of that time, Kyle Turris took a
pass attempted clear from Luke Schenn and deposited it passed Mason who did not have his best night, either. The rest of the game went according to the script of a 4-0 blowout, with the leading team playing very defensively, while the trailing team gets the occasional chance, but nothing really dangerous. The Flyers ended the game with 36 shots on goal to the Senators' 31.
Some other points from the game:
* In the second period, Mark Borowiecki decided it was a good idea to fight Wayne Simmonds. It didn't end well for Borowiecki, as Simmonds took out some of the team's frustration on his face.
* Craig Anderson, to his credit, played a very good game, exhibiting excellent rebound control and never seemed to get rattled, especially after the first period. His victory this night was well earned. For his efforts, he gets the second-ever Gold Star of the Game.
* Ever Flyer shot was stopped by Anderson, and in addition to his superb rebound control, the Sens defense was able to collapse around him, which limited the high-danger chances the Flyers had.
* Chippy play was evident throughout the game, with most whistles followed by some sort of pushing and shoving. This could be evidence of frustration the team is facing, with no goals being scored in the last 138 minutes played.
* Ryan, who by the way is from nearby Cherry Hill, in case you haven't heard, finished his night with two assists. Him and Mike Hoffman were the only Sens with multiple points on the game.
* Every time a hot prospect is getting his feet wet at the top level of any sport, some caution must be taken if he plays well right away, as he will be scouted and other teams will adjust to his strengths and weaknesses and play him accordingly. However, after seeing the first handful of games of Shayne Gostisbehere's first real taste of the NHL, it's getting very hard to not get real excited about what we're seeing. He's already improved an already dangerous first power-play unit, and the defensive mistakes that we were warned about prior to his arrival seem to be minimal. Here's hoping the rest of the guys coming up over the next few years match the early returns we're seeing from him. When Streit comes back, they will have a decision to make as to who the PP-1 QB will be for that unit. Some are saying he shouldn't have pinched on the play that led to the third Senator goal, but that looked to me at least to be a reasonable risk to take given they were already down 2-0, Read was already back at the point, and Luke Schenn was back as well, leaving two guys back.
* An egregious missed call in the first resulted in the first Ottawa powerplay. Scott Laughton was driven into the boards by an Alex Chaisson forearm, which drew the ire of the Flyers, Sam Gagner in particular. Gagner and Chaisson then dropped the gloves, with Gagner getting a two-minute instigator for his troubles in addition to the customary five-minute majors for fighting. It's been said that fights are usually the result of referee mistakes, and that theory was certainly in play with this scrap. Laughton would not return for the rest of the game.
* Manning has been looking for someone to fight with, and this night he finally found someone to dance with, as Chris Neil fought him at 12:39 of the second period. Perhaps making up for the Gagner penalty earlier, Neil was assessed an instigator penalty and a misconduct penalty as well.
In the end, another shutout and more questions will surround the team's offense, which is now dead last in the NHL in goals per game. As the team reaches the quarter-pole of the season, and only one regulation win in the last 16 games, questions will start to mount on the coaches, players, and everyone else involved in the organization, rightly or wrongly. The effort given this game was a good one for the most part, but until the pucks start going into the net, the pressure will continue to increase on the team.
Charlie O'Connor will have his observations from this game tomorrow morning.
The Flyers' next game is Monday night at 7 p.m., when they host the Hurricanes.
Comment of the night:
I am lactose intolerant and just got ice cream. Can’t be as painful as watching the Flyers.
-Otto29, for both nailing the play on the ice and supporting the business, no matter the personal cost