Senators 4, Flyers 1: Giroux gets the victory against his former team

I’m not crying, you can’t prove that.

It was due to come eventually, but exactly one week after the Flyers played against Claude Giroux for the first time, it was time for the former captain to make his return to the Wells Fargo Center. Emotions were had as fans showed up to the arena for this Saturday afternoon game with signs in hand, and a pre-game tribute took place.

After that, though, it was time for business against the Ottawa Senators, and it was an eventful game that would’ve absolutely lived up to the hype had the Flyers won it.

Period 1

Giroux got his “revenge game” mindset out of the way early the last time these two teams played, so it was at least nice that this time he didn’t score a goal on the Flyers within the first few minutes.

In fact, it was the Flyers who got on the jump early as Kevin Hayes got his third goal of the season, assisted by none other than Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee. It was a scramble in front of the net, and it looked like the primary assist should have actually gone to Travis Hamonic’s skate, but it was another example of the Flyers’ top line proving why it’s the top line.

Because this game needed to have everything, after Jacob Bernard-Docker crashed Konecny into the boards, the two of them got into some good old-fashioned fisticuffs.

Apparently not about to be outdone, Tony DeAngelo also got into a fight, this one with Mark Kastelic. For the most part, Kastelic was putting more fists in DeAngelo’s face than the other way around, and the Flyers’ defenseman’s jersey was torn after the bout.

Not too long after this second fight, Thomas Chabot tied the game up for the Senators with a goal of his own. The Flyers were clustered too much on one side of the ice, allowing Chabot to take off with a burst of speed and making himself wide open, which made making a play all too easy for none other than Giroux. Look, he wasn’t going to stay off the scoresheet all game, now.

Giroux also didn’t know how to stay out of the box, as he took a slashing penalty against Nick Seeler. With the two 5-minute majors still being served, Giroux was in a pretty cramped penalty box at that point, which probably made him feel right back home in Philly. Too bad the Flyers weren’t able to capitalize with having the man-advantage, or else we could call this a present from Giroux.

Truly, though, this period had more action in it than some games have throughout a full 60 minutes. Welcome back, Giroux, this arena clearly missed you.

Period 2

About 20 seconds into the period the Flyers were already back to creating as much drama as possible as Carter Hart made a sprawling save only to get bulldozed over by Brady Tkachuk, pushing him way out of the crease. The net was left gaping open, but the Flyers did a good job at protecting it and got the puck out of their zone.

For the majority of this period, the real story was caught up in two things: Cam Talbot making some strong saves against the Flyers, and the Flyers continuing their power play woes. In fact, Olivia Reiner of The Inquirer pointed out that throughout their first three power plays, the Flyers had 5 shots on goal total while the Senators had 3 shorthanded shots. At that point, the Flyers might as well have been playing 5-on-5 hockey.

With around 4 and a half minutes left in the period, Wade Allison placed a big hit to Bernard-Docker along the boards, but as he pulled away from it, he was writhing in pain. The referees had to blow the play dead in order to tend to Allison, and he ultimately needed help from his teammates in getting off the ice. I won’t embed the replay, because I know not everyone like seeing injuries, but if for anyone that wants to see what happened, just click right here.

Nic Deslauriers took an interference penalty, and Ottawa decided to show the Flyers what you’re supposed to do with the power play. Alex DeBrincat scored the goal to send the Senators to the lead in the last minute of the period.

This period was much more frustrating for the Flyers, and it only felt right that they would leave it with a deficit. The power play was poor, but the Flyers outshot the Senators 13 to 8 in the second frame. The Flyers had more chances, but Talbot was stopping them all. It’s just very Flyers to shoot more and yet be losing.

Period 3

Only 30 seconds into this period, Chabot was the next player to leave the game after Konecny placed a hit on him against the boards. This game has been extremely physical (see: two fights), and as a result, it became more dangerous for the players themselves.

Scott Laughton took a slashing penalty against Austin Watson in retaliation for Watson placing a big hit against Justin Braun, and that moment of anger cost the Flyers. The resulting power play ended with another goal from DeBrincat. Oh, and Giroux got another assist thanks to a bank pass off the boards.

Honestly, this is where the “sticking up for each other” mentality can get messy. No, a player shouldn’t just accept when bad hits happen, but also, when down a goal, it’s best to not give the opposing team any sort of advantage. After this, the Flyers’ deficit doubled, and any sort of comeback became twice as hard.

The Flyers seemed to roll over a bit from that point, not really showing enough energy out there on the ice. In fact, Carter Hart nearly whiffed it when he went to play the puck, and if he had, it would’ve given Giroux a prime scoring opportunity. Yikes.

Hart was pulled with about 4 minutes left to go in the game, and it immediately went bad for the Flyers. Rasmus Ristolainen tried to stop Tim Stützle from scoring on the empty net, but by the time he stumbled into Stützle to knock him over, it was too late. The puck was already on its way in.

The Flyers obviously had a lot to play for in this game, but instead, it’s Giroux and his Ottawa Senators that came out on top.

Final Thoughts

The Flyers have been pretty lucky throughout the early part of this season, but games like this one show how much it was just that. There was also some extra jump for the team with the ability to stage comeback wins, but the Flyers are starting to show more of the cracks that were expected of them. Hart saved 23 of 27 shots giving him a .852 save percentage. Going into this game, his save percentage on the season was at .941, showing that this was an uncharacteristically bad game for him. Yet, was Hart’s stellar goaltending always going to be this sustainable? Regression to the mean is a powerful thing, after all.

Once more, the Flyers’ top line was the only line to get things done in the scoring department, but that fizzled out almost as soon as it began. There just aren’t enough players on this roster to pick things back up when the going gets rough. This game was physical, but throwing hits and throwing punches doesn’t do much if there aren’t also goals to follow them.

There’s not much time to dwell on this loss, though, because the Flyers are right back in action for part two of a back-to-back, this time against the Dallas Stars.