Bill Meltzer: Flyers Gameday: 1/6/15 vs. OTT

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PREVIEW: FLYERS vs. SENATORS

Still searching for their first win since the Christmas break, the Philadelphia Flyers (14-18-7) play host to the Ottawa Senators (16-15-7) on Tuesday night as they return home from a season-high eight-game road trip. Game time is 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on CSN Philadelphia.

This is the first of three meetings between the teams this season and the first of two in Philadelphia.

The teams will rematch on March 15 in Ottawa and April 11 in Philadelphia.

The Flyers have had two days and one practice to regroup since concluding their road trip with a 3-4-1 record. The team is beginning a four-game homestand and will play six of the next nine games on home ice. Ottawa last played on Sunday. This game marks the start of a four-game road trip. Flyers outlook

After starting out their road trip with three straight regulation wins prior to the Christmas break, the Flyers have dropped four regulation decisions and an overtime game. On Saturday night, the Flyers sustained an ugly 5-2 loss in Newark to the New Jersey Devils.

In a game that saw former Flyers right winger Jaromir Jagr become the oldest player in NHL history to record a hat trick, Philadelphia trailed 5-0. Goals by Andrew MacDonald and Vincent Lecavalier got the team on the scoreboard.

Philadelphia goaltender Ray Emery lasted one period in net against the Devils, yielding three goals on 10 shots. Usual starter Steve Mason was pressed into action for the third time in four nights, getting beaten on two of the first four shots he saw before stopping the next four.

The Flyers played Saturday’s game without the services of captain and second-leading scorer Claude Giroux, who sustained a skate cut to the back of his left leg in Friday night’s 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Giroux officially remains day-to-day. His status for Tuesday’s game against Ottawa will be a game-day decision.

Rookie center Scott Laughton also missed Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. He is expected to play against Ottawa. With the playing one forward short, the Flyers dressed seven defensemen for Saturday’s game. Michael Del Zotto took a few shifts at forward as well on the blueline.

With the loss in New Jersey, the Flyers fell to 5-5-2 in their last 12 games and 6-5-4 in the last 15. For the season, Philadelphia has consistently shown an inability to win low-scoring or even moderate-scoring (i.e. three-goal) games. When scoring three or fewer goals in a game, Philly has a 2-17-6 record. That includes just one win apiece when scoring three (1-3-3) or two (1-4-1) goals in a game.

Right winger Jakub Voracek enters this game with 48 points, placing him one point ahead of Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin in the NHL’s Art Ross Trophy race. He also leads the league with 33 assists, one more than Pittsburgh Penguins’ center Sidney Crosby. Despite missing Saturday’s game, Giroux is fourth in the league in assists (30) and tied for fourth in overall scoring (43 points).

In the goal-scoring department, Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are tied for the Flyers’ team lead with 15 apiece. Simmonds has been held scoreless in six of the last nine games and has just one goal in that span after a stretch of six goals and seven points in the previous six games.

Mark Streit is tied for 11th among NHL defensemen in overall scoring (25 points). With 10 power play points (one goal, nine assists), Streit is tied for 12th in the NHL among defensemen. At even strength he is plus-three for the season but is minus six over the last five games.

Brayden Schenn (nine goals, 25 points) has just three points in his last 10 games and has gone 12 games without a goal since a two-goal outburst in the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime loss in Columbus on Dec. 9. Schenn has scored three goals in his last 23 games and has 12 points in that span.

Sean Couturier (nine goals, 20 points) picked up offensively in December after struggling in November. For the month of December, Couturier had five goals, 12 points and a plus-five rating in 14 games. However, he has gone pointless in three straight games and four of the last five.

On the other hand, Lecavalier was one of the few Flyers to have significant offensive success for the duration of the road trip. He notched five goals and six points during the eight-game trip after a lengthy stint as a healthy scratch. Lecavalier was minus-three in the New Jersey game.

Yesterday, the Flyers placed Ryan White on waivers for purposes of assigning him to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He recently completed a three-game conditioning stint with the Phantoms while rehabbing a torn pectoral muscle that had kept him out the entire season.

At yesterday’s practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, Zac Rinaldo skated on a line with Voracek and Brayden Schenn. Head coach Craig Berube juggled line combinations throughout Saturday’s game with Giroux and Laughton out of the lineup and with four separate fights — all involving Flyers’ forwards (including Rinaldo twice) — taking forwards out for five-minute stretches. Senators outlook

The Senators, who recently fired head coach Paul MacLean and promoted assistant coach Dave Cameron, have won only two of six games (2-3-1) since laying a 6-2 beating on President’s Trophy race leading Anaheim shortly before the Christmas break.

Ottawa enters this game coming off a 4-2 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Kyle Turris got the team off to a quick start, scoring in the opening minute of the game. Ottawa also lead, 2-1, late in the second period before the wheels fell off on two goals within a minute (one power play, one even strength) by the Lightning.

The Senators lost their discipline and went to take a series of penalties. Tampa finished the game with nine power plays and 14:31 worth of man-advantage time for the game to just three power plays and six minutes of man-advantage time for Ottawa. In the meantime, Tyler Johnson scored an even strength goal before the middle stages of the third period to give Tampa some insurance.

Turris enters this game leading Ottawa in overall scoring with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 38 games. Former Norris Trophy winning defenseman Erik Karlsson is two points (seven goals, 20 assists) behind Turris.

Mike Hoffman, who also leads the team with a plus-17 rating at even strength tops the club with 12 goals among his 17 points. Wingers Bobby Ryan (11 goals, 26 points) and Clarke MacArthur (11 goals, 21 points) are each one goal behind Hoffman.

The Senators expect to have center Curtis Lazar, fresh off winning a goal medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, back with the club today. On the injury front, Mark Borowiecki (left leg laceration from a skate cut), Chris Neil (lower body) and Zack Smith (dislocated wrist) are all on injured reserve. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)

Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.72 (16th), Senators 2.60 (20th)

Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 2.95 (T-23rd), Senators 2.68 (19th)

Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.99 (T-19th), Senators 0.94 (T-21st)

Power play efficiency: Flyers 21.9% (6th), Senators 17.0% (20th)

Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 74.2% (30th), Senators 82.9% (10th)

Faceoff percentage: Flyers 51.1% (11th), Senators 47.0% (27th) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)

FLYERS

24 Matt Read – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek

10 Brayden Schenn – 49 Scott Laughton – 17 Wayne Simmonds

12 Michael Raffl – 14 Sean Couturier – 18 R.J. Umberger

76 Chris VandeVelde or 36 Zac Rinaldo – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 40 Vincent Lecavalier

5 Braydon Coburn – 55 Nick Schultz

8 Nicklas Grossmann – 32 Mark Streit

15 Michael Del Zotto – 47 Andrew MacDonald

35 Steve Mason

[29 Ray Emery]

Scratches: Claude Giroux (day-to-day, skate cut on back of left leg), Carlo Colaiacovo (healthy), one of Luke Schenn or Michael Del Zotto (healthy), one of Chris VandeVelde or Zac Rinaldo (healthy).

SENATORS

16 Clarke MacArthur – 7 Kyle Turris – 61 Mark Stone

68 Mike Hoffman – 93 Mika Zibanejad – 6 Bobby Ryan

14 Colin Greening – 17 David Legwand – 22 Erik Condra

9 Milan Michalek – 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau – 90 Alex Chiasson

4 Chris Phillips – 65 Erik Karlsson

2 Jared Cowen – 5 Cody Ceci

46 Patrick Wiercioch- 62 Eric Gryba

41 Craig Anderson

[40 Robin Lehner]

Scratches: Mark Borowiecki (IR, left leg laceration from a skate cut), Chris Neil (IR, lower body) and Zack Smith (IR, dislocated wrist), Chris Wideman (healthy), Marc Methot (back).

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