Who: Philadelphia Flyers (5-4-1, 11 points, 6th place Metropolitan) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (7-5-0, 14 points, 4th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m.
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN+
Opponent Track: As always, the Flyers are a team of streaks. They lost four games in a row (0-3-1) from Oct 12th to the 19th, only to win three straight from Oct 21st-26th and then lost 5-3 to the Islanders on Sunday in their last game out.
Pens path ahead: It’s a pretty inactive one! Pittsburgh can afford to empty their tanks and really go all out for a win here, they have three days off of games after tonight before they host Edmonton on Saturday afternoon.
Season Series: This is a rare early season intra-divisional matchup for the NHL, the league has tilted most of these games towards later in the year when the hunt for a playoff spot is more intense. The two teams don’t meet again until January 22nd when the Pens go to Philly just before their bye...Then Pittsburgh gets the Flyers at home on January 31st for the first game back after the bye. The season series concludes on Game #79 for the Pens on March 29th in Philly.
Recent history: Pittsburgh picked up a point in the standings in three of the four PIT/PHI meetings last year, but only won one game, going 1-1-2 against the cross-state rivals. The Pens have been in pretty firm control of the rivalry in recent years though, going 10-4-2 against Philly in the last 16 meetings.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out our pals at Broad Street Hockey for the perspective from the other side
Tale of the Tape
—The Flyers in their first 10 games under new coach Alain Vigneault have been....actually good in their process? Surprising! (Then again, their schedule hasn’t exactly been very daunting in strength to this point). Anyways, to have the best shot discrepancy and Corsi For%’s through October is something and not really to be expected.
—The Pens’ process is settling in pretty top-third of the league as well. Struggles as of late have been 5v5 shooting going cold and 5v4 shooting (power play) going absolutely ice cold.
Player Stats at a Glance
—Oh no did the Flyers already break their 87th “future franchise goalie” in a row? Ya hate to see it. Brian Elliott has been in much better form lately (a .928 save% last week en route to being named the NHL’s third star of the week) than the 21-year old Carter Hart who has gotten off to a poor start in his first full NHL season.
Possible Lines (based on Sunday game)
James van Riemsdyk - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Oscar Lindblom - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Tyler Pitlick - Kevin Hayes - Joel Farabee
Michael Raffl - Mikhail Vorobyev - Chris Stewart
Ivan Provorov / Matt Niskanen
Sam Morin / Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim / Justin Braun
Expected scratches: Scott Laughton (injured), Robert Hagg
Injured reserve: Nolan Patrick
—The Flyers’ top-nine forward group is an intriguing bunch, even without Patrick who hasn’t been able to play all season due to a migrane situation. Lindbolm has been the early season standout, but the teenaged rookie Farabee (a 2018 first round pick) has made it through the ranks to the NHL level in an impression manner.
—Stick boy Matt Niskanen gets his first crack at the Pens in his new sweater. Gross.
—Travis Konecny is on the hottest streak with points in six straight games (3g+3a).
Early season goalie decision
As touched upon above, Carter Hart has had a shaky beginning to the season. He’s been pulled from the game in two of his last three starts (including giving up 5 goals on 14 shots in 28 minutes last time out against NYI) and has given up 12 goals in the last 122 minutes he has played.
Brian Elliott stopped all 19 shots he saw in relief of Hart against NYI, and has won his three prior decisions.
It’ll be interesting to see where Philly turns. Do they stick with their young goalie who isn’t in great form? Or go with the vet?
And now for the Pens..
That fudge unreal bud?
Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:
Potential Lines (Based on Monday practice)
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
Alex Galchenyuk - Nick Bjugstad - Patric Hornqvist
Dominik Kahun - Jared McCann - Bryan Rust
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Brian Dumoulin/ Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Justin Schultz
Jack Johnson / John Marino
Expected scratches: Chad Ruhwedel (healthy), Juuso Riikola (healthy), Sam Lafferty (healthy)
Injured: Evgeni Malkin (lower body injury, IR)
—Adam Johnson and Joseph Blandisi were returned to the AHL yesterday, clearing the way in roster space for Galchenyuk and Dumoulin to be activated and return to their spots in the lineup. Along with the recent additions of Rust and Bjugstad, this is actually starting to look like a bonafide NHL lineup again!
—Officially Galchenyuk and Dumoulin are “game time decisions”, naturally, but we’ll go ahead and project them as being back, since it certainly looks like they’re trending that way.
—This could also be the last game the Pens have to endure Malkin’s absence, as the star center is eyeing a return on Saturday in the team’s next game.