Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (31-13-5, 67 points, 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division) @ Philadelphia Flyers (26-17-6, 58 points, 6th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:30 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh viewing area, NBC Sportsnet everywhere else
Opponent Track: Today concludes a hectic stretch of eight games in 15 days for the Flyers, who like the Pens go on their bye week/all star break until next Friday for the next PIT/PHI game. Philly is 4-2-1 in this stretch after a 3-1-0 week last week. The Flyers defeated Los Angeles 4-1 on Saturday in their last game
Key Stat: Today is the 11th game in the last 20 days for the Penguins, they’re 7-2-1 in this stretch before the break.
Pens path ahead: Bye week activities commence! For most of the team it will be sun and relaxing in warmer climates for most of the next week+. The Pens and Flyers meet up again on Fri Jan 31st in Pittsburgh to kick off the stretch run of the season.
Season Series: The Pens won 7-1 against Philly at the end of October in the first game of the season. It was very, very fun and seven different Pens’ players scored a goal.
Recent History: Pittsburgh has dominated this rivalry as of late. The Pens are 3-0-1 in their last four trips to Philly, and overall are 6-1-2 in the last nine regular season PIT/PHI games.
SBN Team Counterpart: Our pals at Broad Street Hockey do a great job covering and commiserating in the misery that is willingly liking the Flyers.
Tale of the tape
—The Flyers aren’t a bad team, process-wise. They’re mostly middle of the pack in just about everything, but suppress shots against pretty well.
—Unfortunately though, that lack of allowing shots has not translated into preventing goals. Philly’s 5v5 save % stinks, overall since Christmas both the now-injured Carter Hart (2-4-0, .869 save%, 3.89 GAA) and Brian Elliott (3-1-1, .895, 3.08) have been a bit shaky.
—The Pens and Flyers special teams play is almost identical in terms of both the power play and penalty kill.
Player Stats at a Glance
—It’s been a bit of a down year, production wise, for front line players Claude Giroux (102 points two seasons ago, 85 last year, on pace for just 57 this year) and to a lesser extent Jakub Voracek (62 point pace this year after scoring 85 and 66 in the last two seasons). That really hasn’t been picked up by supporting players, besides 22-year old Travis Konecny who will likely set career-highs in goals (24) and points (49) this year as kind of the closest thing Philly has to a lesser version of Guentzel or Rust.
—It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the now-injured 26-year old Gostisbehere as well. He was a 65 point player two seasons ago, recorded 37 last year and now has just 12 in half a season’s work. He has three more seasons on a reasonable contract if he can find top form ($4.5m) and might be a “change of scene” type of move in this off-season.
Possible Lines (based on last game)
Claude Giroux - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk - Scott Laughton - Joel Farabee
Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Connor Bunnaman - Tyler Pitlick
Ivan Provorov / Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim / Justin Braun
Robert Hagg / Phillipe Myers
Expected Scratches: Carter Hart (injured), Shayne Gotisbehere (knee injury), German Rubtsov (just got called up, actually don’t expect him to be scratches just hasn’t been on a line yet)
Injured Reserve: Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindbolm (get well soon!), Samuel Morin
And now for the Pens..
Potential Lines (based on Sunday game)
Jared McCann - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon
? - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Alex Galchenyuk - Andrew Agozzino - Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Jack Johnson/ Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Juuso Riikola / Chad Ruhwedel
Expected scratches: Kevin Czuczman (healthy), Sam Lafferty (healthy), Dominik Kahun (concussion)
Injured Reserve: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Jake Guentzel (shoulder), Justin Schultz (lower body injury)
—We’ll have to see and update this for the Pens, Joseph Blandisi was called up from the AHL for the approx. 456,987th time this season due to a concussion suffered by Kahun on Sunday. One of Blandisi or Lafferty will play in this game, the other being healthy scratch and just insurance to make sure no one gets hurt in warmup or something like that.
—The good news on the injury front is that Justin Schultz was a full-go in practice and could be back as soon as today (slotting in likely for Ruhwedel). If not today, certainly after the bye week break Schultz will be back in the game lineup.
—Also good news for Dom Simon, who left the game hurt on Sunday, tried to comeback and play, but had to leave again. He was not limited in practice yesterday and was deeemed good to go for today’s game.