The Philadelphia Flyers have gone from surprising opponents to dominating them in just five months. Winning a likely matchup with red-hot Brian Elliott(notes) for the first time may be one of their biggest challenges yet.
The Flyers search for their ninth win in 10 games as they host the surging Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
While Philadelphia (11-4-2) lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup finals after qualifying for the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, it has 24 points in 2010-11 - among the most in the league.
Philadelphia has been superb during an 8-0-1 stretch, outscoring opponents 39-16. The club’s only defeat in that span came Nov. 7 in overtime against Washington, the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winner.
The Flyers are one of the top offensive teams in the NHL with 58 goals, and showed it in two games since that loss. They beat Carolina 8-1 on the road Thursday before a 5-2 win over Florida two nights later.
Despite those impressive offensive displays, Philadelphia might be in for a tough test against the Senators (9-7-1), winners seven of nine.
Elliott has won all four of his games against the Flyers, posting a 0.84 goals-against average with two shutouts. He’s on a five-game winning streak, making 31 saves in a 2-0 win at Boston on Saturday that opened a four-game trip.
Elliott has a 1.40 GAA during that run, which may have strengthened his case to become the Senators’ top goaltender after Pascal Leclaire(notes) was in net for Thursday’s 6-2 defeat to Vancouver. Leclaire was making his return from a groin injury.
Leclaire is 0-2-0 with a 4.57 GAA in three starts against Philadelphia. He was pulled in the most recent one Jan. 3, when he allowed three goals on 10 shots before Elliott gave up one goal the rest of the way in a 7-4 win.
After scoring one goal in his first 12 games, Richards has five in five games after netting two against the Panthers.
“I see his confidence building,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He was flying out there. He was a noticeable player. He had a lot of speed in his game, a lot of attack to his game. I thought his line was good. I think he’s been getting stronger as we go.”
Claude Giroux(notes) is also providing scoring punch, getting two goals Saturday to give him a team-leading nine. The 22-year-old right wing has scored six of his goals and 13 of his team-best 18 points at Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers are 7-3-0.
Giroux has just two assists in seven meetings with Ottawa.