5 observations: Flyers in LAG (Life After Giroux) period as they fall to Sens
For the Philadelphia Flyers, call it the LAG period.
Life After Giroux.
The Flyers have had Claude Giroux on their roster for parts of 15 seasons, but on Friday night in Ottawa, the team was without its long-time captain. He was left behind because the Flyers plan to deal him by Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline and didn’t want to risk an injury.
“You don’t replace a guy like that,” right winger Cam Atkinson said before the Flyers dropped a sleepy 3-1 decision in Ottawa. “… But it just gives guys an opportunity to step up and embrace it.”
Atkinson stepped up Friday. So did backup goalie Martin Jones and defensemen Justin Braun, and Rasmus Ristolainen (seven blocks, three hits).
But the Flyers (19-31-11) looked like a tired team during an Ottawa-dominated third period as they suffered their 12 straight road loss.
With 13:50 left in the second, Atkinson (eight shots) tied the game at 1-1 with a skillful, backhand deflection of Braun’s point drive. It was his 23rd goal, tops on the team.
Ottawa (22-34-5) took a 2-1 lead on Josh Norris’ power-play goal with 10:44 remaining in regulation, whipping a one-time, right-circle drive past Jones. The Sens made it 3-1 with an empty-net goal.
Senators goalie Anton Forsberg made 27 saves.
Prior to the game, interim coach Mike Yeo said the Flyers needed to be “emotionally invested.” He was mindful they were coming off a draining 5-4 win-one-for-the-captain game Thursday, and that Ottawa was well-rested.
The Flyers weren’t exactly clicking on all cylinders Friday, especially during most of the final period.
Here are five observations:
1. The Flyers need to figure out how to win on the road. (Duh.)
Will Philly win a road game in the 2022 portion of this season?
The Flyers are running out of time.
They lost their 12th straight road game, their longest skid since 1971-72, when they failed to get a win in 19 consecutive road games (0-15-4). That was Fred Shero’s first coaching season in Philadelphia.
The Flyers haven’t won on the road since Dec. 29, a 3-2 OT victory in Seattle.
2. Morgan Frost has a great opportunity to show he is an NHL player.
Frost, who had been playing wing lately, was moved back to his natural position, center, because of Giroux’s absence. He also saw time on the power play. With Giroux on his way out, Frost will get more ice time.
“We’re going to need everybody to pick up in certain areas,” Yeo said before the game, adding that Frost “should be excited” about his increased role.
Frost, 22, didn’t do much. He centered Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny at the start of the game, and he finished with no shots and won just three of 10 faceoffs. Frost’s hooking penalty in the third period set up the power-play goal that gave the Sens a 2-1 lead.
Yeo called it a learning experience for Frost.
3. It appears the Flyers will go without a captain. For now.
With Giroux out, Atkinson was named an alternate captain, joining Kevin Hayes and Ivan Provorov. It doesn’t look like the Philadelphia Flyers will name a new captain until next season, when Sean Couturier, who is sidelined because of back surgery, figures to wear the “C.”
That is, unless Giroux re-signs with the Flyers in the summer.
The Giroux trade situation is getting more complicated, though Colorado and Florida appear to still be the top candidates.
4. Martin Jones helped his trade value.
The backup goalie stopped 33 of 35 shots and was very good for the second straight game. He might bring the Flyers around a sixth-round pick if dealt, and the fact he has been a starter with San Jose in the Finals could make him attractive to a team.
“He played great for us,” Atkinson said. “He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.”
5. Justin Braun continued his impressive play.
The 35-year-old defenseman broke up a two-on-one, blocked seven shots, and collected an assist.
He is also expected to be traded. I originally thought he would net a third-rounder, but seeing the price of veteran defensemen who have been traded recently, maybe the Flyers can get a second-rounder.
Midway through the first period, defenseman Cam York was hit in the face with a deflected puck and went to the locker room for stitches on his chin. He returned for the second period. … Zack MacEwen lost part of his tooth when hit with a high stick. … Atkinson has 12 goals in 21 career games against Ottawa. … The Senators have the second-most goals in the NHL (91) by players 23 or under this season. … The Flyers host the Islanders on Sunday at 2 p.m. Giroux will also sit out that game if he has not been traded by then.