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Game 51 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Pittsburgh Penguins 1/31/2020: lines, how to watch

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The battle of PA gets going once again tonight in Pittsburgh

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Who: Philadelphia Flyers (27-17-6, 60 points, 6th place Metropolitan Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (31-14-5, 67 points, 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh viewing area, NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN+, Sportsnet in Canada

Opponent Track: The Flyers have had the exact same bye week/all-star break as the Pens, their last game was the 3-0 win in Philly over the the Pens. Philadelphia has won four of their last five games, so hopefully the break has cooled them off.

Item to know: The Penguins will wear white jerseys at home tomorrow night for the first time since December 1, 2018

Pens path ahead: It’ll be a spicy return with tonight’s game, then a quick turnaround for a Sunday matinee game on the road in Washington DC against the other big rival team. The Pens road swing continues with games @Tampa and @Florida next Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Season Series: The Pens won 7-1 against Philly at the end of October in PPG Paints. The Flyers, as mentioned, returned fired with a 3-0 win last week against the Pens. After tonight, there’s just one more PIT/PHI game on the season, Sunday March 29th in Philly.

Recent History: Despite last week’s no-show loss, the Pens have done very well lately going 6-2-2 in the last ten 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

—As perhaps to be expected given rankings, in last week’s Pens/Flyers game the penalty kills of both teams were a combined 6/6.

—Somewhat quietly, Tristan Jarry only has a .908 even strength save% in seven games played in calendar 2020, leading the Pens to a dip in what was a top 5-10 metric for much of the year when Jarry was propping them up. Matt Murray has a .933 ES save% in four games in 2020 so far. It’ll be interesting to see how Mike Sullivan divvies up playing time in the net, especially since as of recently Jarry’s results have been the weakest of the season for him, and Murray has been getting good results as of late.

Player Stats at a Glance

via hockeydb:

—Carter Hart remains injured coming out of the break, so the Pens should certainly expect to see veteran Brian Elliott in the net tonight. Elliott only had to make 19 saves to record a shutout against Pittsburgh last week in what was a very dull effort by the Pens.

Travis Konecny, the lone Philly rep at the All-Star game, was nice to Alex Letang in St. Louis. So conflicting!

Possible Lines (based on practice yesterday)

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk - Claude Giroux - Travis Konecny

Michael Raffl - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Joel Farabee

Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Connor Bunnaman - Tyler Pitlick

Defense

Ivan Provorov / Matt Niskanen

Travis Sanheim / Justin Braun

Robert Hagg / Phillipe Myers

Expected Scratches: Carter Hart (injured), Shayne Gotisbehere (knee injury)

Injured Reserve: Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom (get well soon!), Samuel Morin

Giroux was working as a center yesterday which is a departure from the norm but certainly helps the center depth down the lineup. The Couturier line will likely match Crosby’s group as much as Philly can get them out there together, so the Giroux line going head-to-head with Malkin will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this matchup depending on which team wins that battle.

—Kinda hope Lindblom scores his next NHL goal in PPG Paints Arena and he’s given a standing ovation to match what the Flyer fans did for Mario in ‘93. Only fitting, right? Here’s to hoping that is able to happen!

And now for the Pens..

Infographic

Potential Lines (based on yesterday practice)

Forwards:

Jared McCann - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon

Bryan Rust - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev

Alex Galchenyuk - Andrew Agozzino - Anthony Angello

Defense:

Jack Johnson/ Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / John Marino

Juuso Riikola / Chad Ruhwedel or Justin Schultz (lower body injury)

Expected scratches: Dominik Kahun (concussion)

Injured Reserve: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Jake Guentzel (shoulder)

—Anthony Angello, 23, will be set to make his NHL debut unless they go with 11F+7D for some reason.

Justin Schultz practiced yesterday and worked with the second power play group. He was also already officially removed from injured reserve last week. As is almost always the case, there’s no official designation on his status just quite yet, but a lot of good signs are pointing to Schultz making his return to the lineup for his first game since December 17th. In fact, Schultz has only played six games since November 19th, so it’s been quite a while since he’s been able to regularly play.

—Kahun was said to be skating before the team and with the skills coach yesterday. He remains in concussion protocol and while it’s good he can be active, he isn’t really on the horizon for an immediate return.

—No improvement yet on Dumoulin, which isn’t the best sign ever, but isn’t worth reading a lot into either. Sullivan says Dumoulin has not yet skated but continues his off-ice rehab process, likely meaning his return will happen weeks down the line.

Home heroes

As they usually are, the Pens have been outstanding at home this season at PPG Paints. From Pens PR:

PPG Paints Arena has been one of the toughest places in the league for a visiting team to play in 2019-20. The Penguins lead all NHL teams in home wins this season with 18, and also rank in the top-10 in multiple home categories:

Category NHL Rank

Wins (18) 1st

Points (39) 2nd

Goals For (89) 6th

PK% (84.8%) 9th

Bryan Rust (18GP, 11G-16A-27PTS), Sidney Crosby (12GP, 5G-12A-17PTS), as well as Evgeni Malkin (18GP, 9G-16A-25PTS) rank near or in the top-10 in home points-per-game. Rust’s 1.50, Crosby’s 1.42, and Malkin’s 1.39 points-per-game average are eighth, 10th, and 11th in the NHL, respectively.

The Penguins leaders in at PPG Paints Arena are as follows:

Category Player

Goals Jake Guentzel (13)

Assists Evgeni Malkin/Bryan Rust (16)

Points Jake Guentzel (28)