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October 14, 2023

Five thoughts: Claude Giroux, Sens thrash Flyers in the season's first 'horror show'

The Flyers were thoroughly out-skated by former captain Claude Giroux and the Ottawa Senators in a 5-2 loss on Saturday.

After opening up the season with a pretty complete effort in Columbus, things crashed back to earth quick for the Flyers via a 5-2 drubbing from the Ottawa Senators and old friend Claude Giroux on Saturday.

Here are five thoughts from it...

Your turn

Tyson Foerster made his season debut Saturday and Emil Andrae his NHL debut. The Flyers' lineup remained intact from Thursday night's season opener in Columbus, just with Foerster taking Bobby Brink's place on the top line with Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee, while Andrae got his introduction on the third defensive pairing with Nick Seeler in place of Egor Zamula.

The plan definitely seemed to be to ease Andrae into it, as he only saw 16:27 of ice time. The 21-year old did register his first shot early, trying to thread a wrister through traffic after an aggressive forecheck from Noah Cates down low led to the puck cycling back to Andrae at the offensive blue line along the left-side wall. Sens goalie Anton Forsberg swallowed it right up though.

Soon after, the puck was taken back into the Flyers' own end and Andrae showed right away that he wasn't going to be scared to throw the body around, engaging in battles along the half-boards and behind the net. He ended up losing a big one to Ottawa's Ridly Greg though, getting knocked down in a fight for the puck behind the goal line among three Senators forecheckers, which allowed former Flyer Zack MacEwen to pick it up and feed a pass right to defenseman Jakob Chychrun in front for a shot that beat Carter Hart. 1-0, Sens, and a tough "Welcome to the NHL" moment for Andrae.

Granted, that was always going to happen at some point, so get it over with now.

Foerster notched his first assist of the year while on the top power-play unit after Ottawa got booked on a 5-on-3 man disadvantage late in the first. He was slotted on the left wing so he could settle up over the top of the faceoff circle on that side of the ice off the draw for the one-timer chance, but movement on the play had him cycle over to the right side, and after Travis Sanheim sent him back a pass with Ottawa collapsing down on their own net, Foerster opted to fire a shot for a rebound that fell right to Travis Konecny's stick for the tying goal and his third of the year only two games in.

In his call-ups last season, Foerster held up well and showed promise in driving the Flyers' offense. How he takes that next step this year will be one of the key storylines to keep an eye on throughout.

But for now, he and Brink – along with Andrae and Zamula on the back end – will probably be rotating in and out of the lineup for one another until they fully find their footing in the NHL.

As for the Flyers' offense as a whole on Saturday, well, there wasn't much outside of that power-play tally, especially once we got into the second period.

The first horror show

Head coach John Tortorella warned back in training camp that the Flyers were going to have some games that would be "horror shows" with a back end that the organization is trying to get younger.

And the first one arrived Saturday, but it was all over the ice.

After some tightly called penalties late in the first left the Flyers with a 4-on-3 advantage coming back out for the second, they failed to do anything with it and Ottawa just took over from there.

Once play got back to even strength, the Senators' attack stayed completely on top of the Flyers, leaving Philly to skate uphill. Jake Sanderson made it a 3-1 game on the Ottawa power play, then Brady Tkachuck went on to score twice with former Flyers captain Claude Giroux recording the primary assists on both of them.

A quick shot from Cam York after skating the puck in with his own chip off the boards late in the second – in one of the few times the Flyers could get into the offensive zone that period – beat Forsberg up high to give the Flyers some reprieve, but not nearly enough as Ottawa stayed comfortably ahead, 5-2.

Horror show, and only the first of many.

The gift and curse of aggression

The PHD line of Ryan Poehling, Garnet Hathaway, and Nic Deslauriers got the start for the second straight game, attacking hard on the puck out of the gate, which set the tone for the rest of the lines through the first 20 minutes.

But the aggression, while always admirable, proved a gift and a curse on Saturday, especially on special teams.

After Sean Couturier got called for boarding midway through the first after checking Chychrun into the boards chasing after the puck full stride into the corner, the Flyers - even shorthanded – still skated hard after the puck trying to create a turnover up high with the puck in their zone.

Ottawa's power play was fully ready for it though, as Sanderson chipped it from the blue line over to Vladimir Tarasenko with Cam Atkinson trying to make a play. Tarasenkp skated into the high slot, which drew Cates to him, and that left Chychrun all alone to Tarasenko's right, who got the pass to him to set up for the one-time goal and Chychrun's second of the day already.

Nick Seeler got called for tripping right after when the Senators' Parker Kelly got a jump but was taken down trying to drive to the net, putting the PK back out there, but the aggression did pay off that time. Couturier forced a turnover that he was able to skate into the offensive zone and ultimately kept Ottawa outside without a shot for those next two minutes.

Still, the Sens went 3-for-4 on the power play while the Flyers went 1-for-6.

Special teams are still very much a problem.

Hey, G

Ahead of puck drop Saturday, the Senators held their home-opening introductions while also honoring Claude Giroux for crossing the 1,000-career point mark.

Later on, with the Flyers on their first power play, Couturier got kicked out of the faceoff circle, leaving Konecny (not a center) to step in and face his former teammate and captain (a known faceoff extraordinaire).

The Flyers kept the puck in the zone off that draw, and Giroux ended up going to the box for throwing away Cam York's stick along the boards trying to clear it out.

Konecny's take on Giroux, and that faceoff, to the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast during the first intermission:

"He's been a huge inspiration to me," Konecny said. "Everything I've accomplished myself is all from G. G's taught me literally everything I know, and he was such a treat to play with. You know, he taught me enough on draws that now I'm 1-0 on him now in his career."

Speaking of...

Giroux was definitely a headache for his former team on Saturday.

He also broke out a familiar move on the Flyers, though he didn't score with it this time around.


The Flyers announced earlier this week that their home opener on Tuesday against the Vancouver Cancuks got moved up to 6 p.m. to make way for Game 1 of the NLCS between the Phillies and Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park and the Mexico-Germany soccer match at the Linc, which are both at 8 p.m.

Going to be an extremely busy night down at the sports complex. Plan accordingly no matter which game you're going to.

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