Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (5-10-1) will begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday night when they take on the Ottawa Senators (7-6-1).

Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. (CSN) at Canadian Tire Centre -- formerly Scotiabank Place -- in Ontario.

With the Flyers looking to build on a strong offensive performance and the Senators hoping to extend their win streak to four, here are five things you need to know for the game:

1. Keep the offense going
Goals have not come easy for the Flyers this season. They’re averaging an NHL-worst 1.62 goals per game and have scored two goals or less in 14 of their 16 contests.

However, the Flyers are coming off one of their better performances this campaign after dispatching the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2, on Saturday.

Several positives came from the Flyers’ victory over Edmonton. Claude Giroux registered his first goal in 21 games. Vinny Lecavalier snapped a three-game pointless streak with a third-period tally. Scott Hartnell found the back of the net for the second time in three games after failing to collect a point in his first nine games.

Those are three players the Flyers need to see on the scoresheet on a consistent basis if they want to put a stretch of wins together.

It’s important for the Flyers to keep putting the puck in the net. They remain dead last in the Metropolitan Division and need to start gaining ground sooner rather than later.

2. Downie returns?
The Flyers could have their only injured player back in the lineup on Tuesday night.

Steve Downie, who practiced on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read on Monday, has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion during a fight with Captials winger Aaron Volpatti earlier this month.

In his only game with the Flyers since he was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche, Downie played over 10 minutes with two shots before dropping the gloves with Volpatti. He is considered a game-time decision for the Flyers’ matchup with Ottawa (see story).

“We’re working on it,” Downie said Monday. “Today was another step. We’ve got some more talking to do.”

If Downie returns, Michael Raffl will likely be the odd man out. Although head coach Craig Berube could choose to sit Kris Newbury or Jay Rosehill, as well. Both Raffl and Newbury have spent time with the Adirondack Phantoms this season. One of the two could be sent back down to the AHL when Downie is 100 percent healthy.  

3. Between the pipes
Apparently three consecutive wins and a First Star of the Week award isn’t enough to keep Robin Lehner in net for the Senators.

Instead of going back to the red-hot Lehner, Ottawa coach Paul MacLean will start No. 1 Sens goaltender Craig Anderson against the Flyers on Tuesday night.

Anderson has sat out the last three games with a stiff neck. Prior to his injury, Anderson allowed 16 goals in his last four starts -- all losses.

With Anderson sidelined, Lehner took advantage of his opportunity to play. He stopped 91 of 95 shots fired his way and posted a 1.33 goals-against average in three starts -- all victories. He’ll back up Anderson on Tuesday.

Anderson has had success against the Flyers in his career, going 7-3-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 12 games (11 starts).  

4. Dynamic duo
The Flyers are going to have their hands full with Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris on Tuesday.

The two linemates have keyed the Senators’ current 3-0-2 stretch. They’re both plus-8 in those games and enter Tuesday with lengthy scoring streaks.

Ryan has scored three goals and assisted seven more during his six-game point streak. The New Jersey native, who was acquired Ottawa this past summer, is off to a marvelous start to his Senators career. He has a team-high 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) through 17 games this season.

Turris has recorded a point in seven straight. He has three markers and seven helpers during his current run and is tied with Erik Karlsson for second on the Senators in scoring with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists).

5. This and that
• The Flyers took two of three games from the Senators in 2013 despite scoring just five goals in the season series. They last met on April 27, when the Flyers closed out their season with a 2-1 win in Ottawa.

• Colin Greening led the Sens offensively against the Flyers last year, registering one goal and two assists. He has just three points – all assists – in 17 games this season.

• Jakub Voracek had two of the Flyers’ five goals against the Senators last year.

• Visiting teams are 2 for 39 on the power play in Ottawa this season.

• With Anderson returning, Erik Condra is the only other injured Senator. He’s out with a leg injury.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.