Preview: Those pesky Sens

The Flyers are in Ottawa to face off against former captain Claude Giroux and the Ottawa Senators.

It’s the home stretch, folks: the 2022-23 season is nearly over, and the Flyers decided to close out a seven-game homestand with a 5-1-1 record, dropping them to the seventh worst record in the NHL. Team Tank must be livid, but Team Kids should be stoked—all of those victories were driven by the young players on the Flyers. Do any of them look like superstar talents? No, but they certainly look like talented pieces.

There’s a bit of a question of who will start in net for the Flyers tonight. Carter Hart’s out with a lower-body injury, which is why Felix Sandstrom started against the Canadiens. Sam Ersson was called up on emergency loan, and there’s a chance he gets the nod against Ottawa. Of course, maybe Hart’s back and ready to go too, and he gets the start. It’s a revolving door of goaltenders!

The Ottawa Senators have a 3-6-1 record in their last ten and, while unlikely, still have a chance at a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. It would take a bit of a miracle at this point though, and with Jakob Chychrun out for 2-3 weeks (essentially the remainder of the season), they’re without their biggest trade deadline acquisition. The Sens making the playoffs relies entirely on the Pittsburgh Penguins collapsing, rather than their own play, as well as beating out the freefalling Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres—and the Sens just stomped the Panthers 5-2. It seems like nobody in the East wants to match up against the Boston Bruins in round one and honestly, who would?

Regardless of the outcome of this season, Ottawa is well positioned for next year, with Josh Norris expected to return and solidify their center depth and the addition of Chychrun on the backend. The pesky Sens may become downright maddening by this time next year.

Players to Watch

Morgan Frost

With three goals and seven points in his last five games (including two goals in Tuesday’s victory over the Montreal Canadiens), and a team-leading 24 points since the calendar flipped, the toilet seat is definitely up for Frost (or down—not really sure how that metaphor is supposed to work). Frost’s improvements have been less visible than teammate Owen Tippett’s explosive work this season, and rather a more measured and steady upward trend. Whether Frost remains a Flyer next season is still up in the air, but he has nine more games to make a case to stay.

Joel Farabee

Going into Tuesday’s matchup, Farabee had a five game point streak rolling, including four goals and two multi-point outings. After being invisible for February and most of January, it’s been great seeing the goals come back to Farabee, and a strong finish is something good to carry into the off season—a proper off season, this time.

Noah Cates

Also on a point streak going into Tuesday’s Canadiens game? Noah Cates, on a four game point streak with a goal and five assists in that span. His defensive acumen continues to impress, breaking up plays and rushes like a seasoned veteran. On a team that has an abysmal -40 goal differential, Cates is a +8. Expect Torts to give him some of the tougher matchups in this game against the Senators.

Claude Giroux

Man, has Giroux been good this year. He has 71 points in 74 games played—something he hasn’t done since 2018-19—and is two goals away from cracking 30 for only the second time in his career. Playing in Ottawa must’ve reinvigorated him, and he’s been playing some of his best hockey in recent memory. Must be nice when you tell your GM to get you a defenseman, and your GM goes out and gets Jakob Chychrun.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. is Ottawa.

Projected Flyers Lineup

Joel Farabee—Noah Cates—Owen Tippett
JvR—Kevin Hayes—Kieffer Bellows
Brendan Lemieux—Morgan Frost—Wade Allison
Nic Deslauriers—Scott Laughton

Ivan Provorov—Cam York
Travis Sanheim—Rasmus Ristolainen
Nick Seeler—Tony DeAngelo
Justin Braun

Sam Ersson
Felix Sandstrom

Projected Senators Lineup

Brady Tkachuk—Tim Stutzle—Claude Giroux
Alex DeBrincat—Shane Pinto—Drake Batherson
Derrick Brassard—Dylan Gambrell—Mathieu Joseph
Patrick Brown—Mark Kastelic—Austin Watson

Jake Sanderson—Artem Zub
Erik Brannstrom—Travis Hamonic
Tyler Kleven—Nick Holden

Mads Sogaard
Dylan Ferguson