By JAY BOEHMER Senior Hockey Insider — email@example.com _______
For more than half the game, the Flyers were the team in control. Unfortunately, the one goal lead they established in the first thirty minutes was quickly dashed away by the Senators in the next thirty.
After the first half of the game, the Flyers had nothing to show for their dominance other than a single goal by Scott Hartnell in the dying seconds of the first. Senators’ goaltender Craig Anderson had their number, keeping even the Flyers’ best chances from getting through.
Several missed power play opportunities later, it was Ottawa’s turn.
Around the mid-point of the second, the Senators took advantage of an extra man chance of their own as Nick Foligno beat Brian Boucher up high for the tying goal.
Later that period, a give-and-go with Ryan Shannon set Erik Condra up for his first NHL goal.
With a new-found momentum, seeing that even they could beat one of the NHL’s best, the Senators found their legs and began to completely control the Flyers. And the Flyers couldn’t bring themselves to fight back.
Instead of fighting back in the third, the Flyers continued to fall.
Just past the mid point of the third, Chris Phillips threw the puck on net from the point and beat Boucher, extending Ottawa’s lead to two.
In the final minutes, a point shot by Erik Karlsson was tipped home by Erik Condra, notching his second professional goal and sealing the Senators’ 4-1 win.
Once again, it’s a matter of motivation for the Flyers.
Playing from a position of dominance in the standings, they continue to struggle to find that extra level of drive – that desperation that drove them from this point of the season right on to the Stanley Cup Final last Spring.
The Flyers made some interesting moves coming into Saturday night’s contest.
During Friday and Saturday, they replaced Oskars Bartulis – both temporarily and in the long run – as well as Chris Pronger, who only sat this game out as a precaution after bruising his hand Tuesday against the Islanders.
In the interim, they called up Erik Gustafsson from the Adirondack Phantoms. Gustaffson handled himself well alongside Matt Carle.
For the long haul, the Flyers picked up Nick Boynton off waivers from Chicago – the second Cup-winning Blackhawk that has joined the roster after Kris Versteeg.
Boynton will likely sit on the sidelines unless an injury makes him a necessity, but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be trusted as a sixth defenseman. With a low cap hit and no contract after this year, he’s the perfect fit to just fill some depth during the Flyers’ playoff run.
These two additions, as well as the presence of Nikolay Zherdev – who surprisingly managed to clear waivers – meant that the Flyers were carrying one too many players.
The only players who could be sent down and called up without risk of being stolen through waivers were James van Riemsdyk and Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson was needed to replace Pronger, as Boynton couldn’t make it to the team in time.
So JVR was sent down temporarily, leaving Zherdev to take his spot in the lineup against Ottawa.
Gustafsson should return to Adirondack, and JVR will come back to the Flyers before their next contest on Thursday.
With another chance in the lineup, Zherdev took the opportunity to prove his worth – with some strong play on the defensive end coupled with his usual quick jump on offense, which included a breakaway chance on his first shift.
Maybe a game like this will make the coaches think twice before giving both Jody Shelley and Dan Carcillo a spot in the lineup and instead work in Zherdev, whose offensive capabilities more than make up for the occasional sign of defensive weakness.