Flyers visit vulnerable Senators ahead off trade deadline (Feb 23, 2018)
OTTAWA -- Originally marked simply as Game 62 on their schedule, the Philadelphia Flyers will now be guests at something of a farewell party when they arrive at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The general mood in the building, however, will not be festive.
Speculation that the Ottawa Senators are poised to move superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson before Monday's trade deadline has reached a fever pitch, with other veterans who led the team to the Eastern Conference final last spring also likely playing their last game before an unpopular rebuild prompted by a disappointing record and lower than desired attendance numbers.
The house cleaning started when the Senators dealt defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 1, and continued Friday when they sent center Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Senators (21-29-10) are admittedly feeling the effects of what defensemen Mark Borowiecki called "trade purgatory" after Thursday's 4-3 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"We're a little anxious right now, I'm not going to lie," Borowiecki told The Ottawa Sun after the game. "You could kind of feel it tonight a little bit too, reflective in our play. There's just many rumors about so many guys ... do your best to tune it out, but at some point, you're not just going to ignore it."
The Flyers (32-19-10) are considerably more upbeat, having won four games in a row to move into third in the Metropolitan Division standings. Emerging as a key contributor is 19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick, the type of player the Senators hope to land in the rebuild process.
Patrick, the second pick in the 2017 draft, has scored in each of the last three games, including the winner in Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, to bring his season totals to eight goals and 17 points.
Patrick has scored five times in his last eight games after registering just three in his first 40.
"It's pretty crazy to think that he can make an impact like that when he's 19 years old," Flyers captain Claude Giroux told philly.com. "I didn't see myself playing in this league when I was 19. It's impressive how young players come in and then can make a difference right away. He's going to be a fun player to watch."
This will be the second visit to Ottawa for Philadelphia this season. The Flyers dropped a 5-4 decision to the Senators on Oct. 26 at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Senators also defeated the Flyers posted a 4-3 shootout victory in Philadelphia on Feb. 3.
The Flyers will like turn to goalie Petr Mrazek to stop the trend. Mrazek, who played his junior hockey in Ottawa, made his Flyers debut against the Blue Jackets, stopping 19 of 20 shots he faced.
The Senators are expected to start Mike Condon between the pipes.