Who: Philadelphia Flyers (10-12-2, 22 points, 8th in the Metro) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (10-9-5; 25 points, 6th in Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: On TV nationally on NHL Network, locally in Pittsburgh the game will still be shown on the normal (AT&T Sportsnet) and in the Philly area it’s on NBC Sports Philadelphia (shout out former SBN manager Travis Hughes)
Opponent Track: The Flyers haven’t had much to do in the last week, they got blown out 6-0 in Toronto on Saturday night which caused the firing of their general manager on Monday. The team responded by blowing a 3-1 lead to Ottawa on Tuesday night and losing 4-3 in regulation.
Pens Refresh: A mixed bag road trip with a win on Tuesday in Winnipeg followed by a 6-3 loss in Colorado.
SBN Team Counterpart: Broad Street Hockey
Tale of the Tape
Due to a rush don’t have the typical chart for you but know the Pens are top 10 in PP and PK. Surprisingly enough for a team with top-end talent, Philly only has the 26th best power play hitting just 15.7% of the time. Their penalty kill is atrocious with just a 70.9% success rate. So if this game is waged with a lot of special teams time, the advantage should be to Pittsburgh based on what has happened so far.
The Flyers are one team that has even worse goaltending than Pittsburgh. The Pens rank 22nd in the league with a .911 5v5 save percentage. Philly is 26th with a .906%.
Player stats at a glance
—Five different goalies used through 26 games? Yep, five goalies used through 26 games. Never change, Philly, just bring out some stupid clown to distract everyone from the circus. (Yes, that’s a Gritty joke).
Anyways, a lot of the high goalie numbers has been injury driven — as you’ll never believe this but the two NHL goalies they have who always get hurt (Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth) — have gotten hurt. Neuvirth is healthy today but was terrible in his only NHL game on 10/27. Elliott, probably their best bet to provide steady play if healthy, suffered a groin injury on Nov 15. It was suggested at the time it would be about a two week injury but recently news has come out Elliott will be out longer than expected, with no return currently in sight.
—The other healthy goalie on the roster is Anthony Stolarz as the team recently waived Calvin Pickard and sent him on his way to Arizona after a fairly uninspiring turn in net for the first two months of the season while the other goalies were mostly injured.
—Fun fact: Philly drafted Stolarz one round before the Pens got Matt Murray in 2012. No matter what happens in Murray’s career this will never not be funny.
—Claude Giroux’s resurgence on the wing continues as he leads the team with 29 points and has thrived as a playmaker. Sean Couturier continues to be a force up the middle on pace for 35 goals and 62 points on the season.
—Other than that, though, the rest of the team looks bogged down. Only three other players with significant games played in addition to Giroux and Couturier are on pace for even half a point per game. This club just looks like they need a shakeup, they have some talent but much of it isn’t performing as it should.
—There are many rumors and a lot of speculation coach Dave Hakstol is basically a “dead man walking” with the new GM to decide his fate. One wonders though if it will even get that far, a big Pens win tonight could very well lead to a dismissal. Isn’t too often when a coach is almost literally fighting for his job in a game to game situation, but that’s clearly the case here with an organization in flux. Now the question becomes- will that challenge bring out an edge to the players and make them want to prove they don’t need sweepin changes and a new coach? Or will they fold away and wait for the other shoe to drop?
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
James van Reimsdyk - Nolan Patrick - Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl - Scott Laughton - Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindbolm - Jordan Weal - Dale Weise
Ivan Provorov / Robert Hagg
Shayne Gostisbehere / Andrew MacDonald
Travis Sanheim / Radko Gudas
And now for the Pens
Infographic courtesy of the team:
Lines (based off Friday practice)
Jake Guentzel - - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Bryan Rust- Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese - Derick Brassard - Phil Kessel
Riley Sheahan - Derek Grant - Garrett Wilson
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Olli Maatta / Juuso Riikola
Jack Johnson / Jamie Oleksiak
—Tanner Pearson was missing, said to be maintenance. If so, he might play, and for minimal changes to the lineup will that mean Rust is bumped to healthy scratch land?
—Welcome back, maybe Hornqvist? How we’ve missed you so. The Pens power play only went 1 for 6 in the three games he has missed, by the way. They’ve also given up a short handed goal, so without Hornqvist (and in this small sample) such a good group has cumulatively added nothing.