For the Flyers, Friday is a classic “trap” game – a road matchup against lowly Ottawa, sandwiched between games against the NHL’s hottest teams, Washington and the New York Islanders.
The Capitals and Islanders are on 13-game point streaks.
Ottawa entered Thursday 14th in the 16-team Eastern Conference.
In past seasons, the Flyers have tended to play up or down to their competition, so it will be interesting to see how they fare Friday under new coach Alain Vigneault.
“With good leadership, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” Vigneault said when asked Thursday if he was concerned the Flyers might look past the Senators and ahead to the Islanders. “I look at all our games lately, and I look at the parity in the league. … This is a tough league, and every game is a tough battle.”
To note the parity that exists, Vigneault pointed out that six of the Flyers’ last seven games have gone past regulation.
“Ottawa just won a big game [Wednesday] against the Devils,” he said. “They’ve been playing a lot better lately. We’re going to have to be ready. We’re going to have to execute. We’re going to have to defend, and it’ll be another challenging game for us.
“I’m confident our leaders are going to make sure everybody is focused and everybody is ready,” he added.
Goalie Carter Hart, who is 4-0-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage in November, will get the start against the Sens. It will be his fifth start in the last six games and the first time he has faced Ottawa in his young career.
After being dominated in the first period Wednesday, the Flyers regrouped nicely and matched the Capitals the rest of the way before dropping a 2-1 shootout decision.
In that game, Vigneault scrambled three of his four lines in the second period as he looked to generate some offense.
“Sometimes you have to shuffle the deck, and that’s what we did, and we got a point out of it,” Vigneault said.
Rookie winger Joel Farabee, 19, was one of the players used sparingly in the latter stages, playing just one shift after the second period.
“For one of the few times, when he had the puck, after he touched it, the other team had it,” Vigneault said. "That’s not what we’ve seen from the young man. Sometimes, guys are going to want to do well but have an off night. He’ll be right back at it [Friday], and I’m sure he’ll be real good for us.”
Farabee said he understood Wednesday’s benching.
“My play wasn’t good enough,” Farabee said after participating in an optional practice Thursday in Voorhees. “If I was the coach, I wouldn’t have put me out there. I have to be better. Too many turnovers. I have to play smarter, and obviously you can’t turn the puck over against the Caps. They’re a really good team. Just have to forget about it and focus on Ottawa now.”
On Thursday, Vigneault said he was still viewing video of the Capitals game and wasn’t sure if he would use the revised lines against the Senators.
The Flyers (10-5-3) will try to extend their seven-game point streak (5-0-2) in Ottawa (7-10-1), which has won six of its last 10 after a 1-6-1-start.