How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, NBCSN nationally
Opponent Track: The Flyers have been on a roll as of late, going 5-0-1 after the all-star break/bye week. Almost all of those games have been one goal, close games, besides beating the breaks off Anaheim 6-2 on Saturday in the last game.
Pens Refresh: currently riding a four game losing streak and starting to have no cushion at all in the playoff race.
Season Series: This is only the second Pens-Flyers game of the season, with still two more to go after tonight. The Pens will go back to Philly next Saturday for the outdoor game, and the Flyers come to Pittsburgh for the final time in the regular season on St. Patrick’s day next month
SBN Team Counterpart: Broad Street Hockey
Tale of the tape
—The Flyers are average to below-average across the board on every category we track. Obviously a season in full will take the bad (their start) and the good (lately) and average it out, but that’s sort of the thing about Philly every year. Seems like they have a 8+ game losing streak at some point where they can’t do anything right at all, but then a month later they’re winning 6+ games and look like one of the best teams in the league.
—The Pens’ shooting percentage has been cratering as of late. It’s never good to see it take a nosedive but especially now dropping a couple tenths from about 9.40% down now towards 9.1 this deep in the season is not very good.
Player stats at a glance
—We see three very good players and point-producers in Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek and then....Not a whole lot.
—Ivan Provorov has been among the disappointments in having, surprisingly enough, a very bad season.
—The Flyers were setting records for goalie futility which is why we’re seeing so much..
Beatle-mania was nothing compared to a young, talented goalie finally emerging and playing well for the Flyers.
It will be fun to see what happens if he proves to be not quite as good as he’s been built up to be, or isn’t quite everything he’s been hoped for.
Not at all, as far as I can tell. Flyers have been so bereft of competent goaltending for so long that it's arrival dazzles and confuses them. https://t.co/Aq94j76rvy— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 8, 2019
Hart though has won eight straight games and carries a .934 save % and 2.35 GAA during that stretch. So whether we quibble over the word “elite” (he’s no Joe Flacco!) or not, he’s still playing very good hockey and is a confident young player. You’d just hate to see the Pens’ shooters light him up for four or five goals by the second intermission and put a dent in the grand plans :)
Possible Lines (from Saturday’s game)
Oskar Lindbolm - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk - Claude Giroux - Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton - Nolan Patrick - Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl - Mikhail Vorobyev - Phil Varone
Travis Sanheim / Ivan Provorov
Andrew MacDonald / Shayne Gostisbehere
Radko Gudas / Robert Hagg
—Justin Bailey was recently recalled from the minors, as was prospect Phillipe Myers who will be looking to make his NHL debut here soon, but it remains unknown just when.
—Giroux has recently been split from Couturier and moved back to center in an attempt to give some depth and balance to the team, but at times they will reunite the duo.
He said it
Philly.com quote from coach Scott Gordon yesterday:
“Pittsburgh presents a different challenge than some of the teams we’ve seen in a while,” interim coach Scott Gordon said, referring to the Penguins’ penchant to play at a high pace coming out of their zone. “… We either have to do one of two things. We have to make sure we put the puck in a good place, where we can establish a forecheck and not allow them to come up with pucks easily, or we have to be really good in our neutral-zone forecheck.”
And now for the Pens
Check the game notes, eh bud?
Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Tanner Pearson - -Nick Bjugstad - Phil Kessel
Dominik Simon -Jared McCann - Patric Hornqvist
Teddy Blueger - Matt Cullen- Garrett Wilson
Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin / Jack Johnson
Olli Maatta / Juuso Riikola
Expected scratches: Chad Ruhwedel (healthy), Evgeni Malkin (upper body, day-to-day)
Injured Reserve: Zach Aston-Reese (broken hand, IR), Justin Schultz (broken leg, LTIR)
—It would be surprising if Matt Murray doesn’t play in this game, given that he was healthy enough to serve as the backup on Saturday. The team could sure use one of those great Murray-return-from-injury games..
—The above will almost certainly change, but right now it’s tough to predict. Schultz just might be ready. Maybe Malkin too. But the Pens were off on Sunday to travel from Florida to Philly (talk about a downgrade!) so we don’t have much news at press time.