Senators-Flyers Preview

After a slow start to the season, the Philadelphia Flyers are

starting to pick up steam.

They’re surely feeling good about their chances of keeping

things going with Simon Gagne back in town.

The Flyers aim for a fifth win in seven games Saturday in their

first meeting of the season with the visiting Ottawa Senators, who

could again be without the injured Craig Anderson.

While Philadelphia (10-11-1) dropped six of its first eight

games, coach Peter Laviolette’s club has since gone 8-5-1 to get

back in the mix. The Flyers have proven especially formidable since

Feb. 18, going 4-2-0 while averaging 4.3 goals.

“We have to move forward and make up some ground. We did some

damage (to ourselves) early on in the first eight games of the

season,” Laviolette told the team’s official website. “We have to

continue to fight to win hockey games and fight to put ourselves

back into a position where we qualify for the playoffs and have a

chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.”

Philadelphia is coming off Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Washington.

Claude Giroux tallied a goal and an assist and Scott Hartnell set

up two scores, but it was Gagne who dominated the headlines.

The veteran forward, who spent the first 10 years of his career

with Philadelphia, added his first goal of the season one day after

he was acquired from Los Angeles for a conditional draft pick. He

was a healthy scratch in his last four games with the Kings.

“It felt almost like I never left,” said Gagne, who hadn’t worn

a Flyers sweater since the 2010 Stanley Cup. “Just walking in the

building before the game, knowing everyone. The nice welcome I got

during the warm-up and after the first five minutes of the period.

It’s almost like coming back home. Everything started here.”

The Flyers have gone 9 for 27 on the power play over the last

six games, including a 2-for-3 effort Wednesday.

“We’re back home, we’re rested and we should focus on the

positive things we did (Wednesday) night and in games past and move

forward from there,” Laviolette said. “We want to have a real good

month here.”

After winning a season-high five straight, the Senators (12-6-3)

concluded February with Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss at Boston.

Robin Lehner stopped 44 shots in his season debut while Anderson

missed his third straight game due to a sprained ankle.

“I thought we played a really good road game,” Lehner told the

team’s official website. “One point is always good, but you always

want to take the two points and today wasn’t the day.”

Anderson, who’s gone 7-1-1 over his last nine starts versus

Philadelphia, practiced Friday but it doesn’t sound like he’ll play

this weekend.

“I can skate, I can stop, I can push, I can do a lot of things

that a forward can do,” he said. “I haven’t taken the step yet to

see what a goalie can do. I think that’s going to be the next step

is see how it is (Saturday) and see if I can get into the butterfly

at all.”

Neither Lehner nor Ben Bishop, who has a 1.69 goals-against

average in winning his last four games, have faced the Flyers.

Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov had allowed 15 goals over a

four-start stretch before making 23 saves Wednesday. While he’s

gone 2-3-0 with a 3.66 GAA against Ottawa – his highest mark

against any opponent – Bryzgalov could catch a break given the

Senators’ woes in opposing arenas.

Ottawa was outscored 13-5 in going 1-4-1 on the road in

February. The Flyers have outscored the Senators 39-22 while going

7-2-1 at home since 2007-08.

Danny Briere has eight goals and 11 assists over his last 18

games versus Ottawa. Hartnell, in contrast, has just three points

over his last 14 meetings in the series.