Getting The Lead Back
A stunning seven-game losing streak has put the Philadelphia Flyers in danger of falling from first in the Atlantic Division to out of the playoff race.
The Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, have only needed three consecutive defeats to drop out of sole possession of the Eastern Conference lead.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Ottawa -191 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 6 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Ottawa -191 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Both teams hope to end their respective skids Tuesday night when they meet at Scotiabank Place.
The Flyers (30-24-5) were challenging for the top spot in the conference just two weeks ago, but their season-high skid has dropped them to fourth in the Atlantic, only two points ahead of the resurgent New York Islanders.
Most distressing for Philadelphia is its fall from the Atlantic's top spot to seventh in the conference, just one point ahead of Boston and Buffalo.
"It's seven games now. I would call that a little panic already,'' Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen said.
After the Flyers suffered a 5-3 loss to Montreal on Sunday in the back end of a home-and-home series, Philadelphia coach John Stevens held a closed-door meeting with his club.
"We've got to start doing everything in our power that's going to be in the best interest of our team winning hockey games,'' he said.
Injuries have played a role in the losing streak, but Timonen refused to use them as an excuse.
"You can't hide behind the injuries,'' Timonen said. "Everyone has injuries.''
Two-time 40-goal scorer Simon Gagne has played in only 25 games and may miss the rest of the season with a concussion. Right wing Joffrey Lupul, who has 18 goals, could miss up to three weeks with a high ankle sprain. Defenseman Derian Hatcher (knee) might be out for three weeks, and forwards Steve Downie and Denis Tolpeko are out with concussions.
Philadelphia's best players also are struggling offensively.
Daniel Briere has cooled after a fast start, scoring one goal in his last 12 games. Fellow center Mike Richards has just one goal in his past seven contests and right wing Mike Knuble hasn't found the back of the net in his last six games.
In an effort to inject some life into an offense that has scored 15 goals during the losing streak, the Flyers recalled forwards Claude Giroux from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Stefan Rucizka from Philadelphia of the AHL on Monday.
Giroux, the 22nd overall pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft, leads the junior league with 88 points (33 goals, 55 assists) in 47 games.
The Flyers have won both meetings this season against the Senators, outscoring them 10-4.
Ottawa (34-20-5) appeared to be a lock for the top seed in the East, as well as a Northeast Division title, but a 5-10-1 record since Jan. 13 has dropped it into a tie with New Jersey and Montreal for the best record in the conference.
The Senators lost to the surging Devils for the second time in four days on Saturday, falling 3-2 at home.
Ottawa is 0-2-1 since acquiring Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore from Carolina on Feb. 11.
"We've got to simplify our game and play a solid 60 minutes and until we do that there are going to be long nights for us," forward Chris Kelly said.
Since a 6-1 win over the Canadiens on Feb. 9, Ottawa has scored five goals in three games despite having its top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza intact.
Ray Emery is scheduled to start for Ottawa despite a 2-6-0 record and a 3.51 goals-against average in his last nine appearances. Emery is 1-2-0 with a 4.36 GAA four career games against the Flyers.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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