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Penguins/Flyers Preview 7/28/2020: Hockey is back! (Exhibition, anyways)

It’ll be a Pens/Flyers game unlike any other

NHL: JAN 31 Flyers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0) “at” Philadelphia Flyers (0-0) [Philly has been tabbed as the home team in this game]

When: 4:00 p.m. eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Pittsburgh viewing area, NBC Sports Philadelphia on the unfortunate end of the commonwealth, NBCSN across America

Opponent Track: After today’s lone exhibition, the Flyers head to the round robin area for the top four teams in the conference. Philly will start by playing Boston on Sunday August 2nd. They then face Washington on Thursday August 6th and Tampa on Sunday August 8th.

Pens path ahead: After this one, it’ll be showtime for the Pens who go into an elimination series against the Canadiens. Game 1 of the qualification round against Montreal starts on Saturday, 8pm.

Season Series: Pittsburgh went 2-1 vs PHI this year, the Pens walloped the Flyers 7-1 way back in October, Philly won 3-0 on January 21st and the Pittsburgh took a 4-3 overtime win (on a Sidney Crosby OT goal lol) on January 31st. There was one game cancelled as result of the season stoppage

SBN Team Counterpart: Our friends at Broad Street Hockey will have you covered from the Philly perspective


—After a slight injury scare last week that caused a brief amount of time missed, Carter Hart skated on Sunday and deemed himself good to go moving forward.

—The Flyers were an interesting team in that the stars gave up a bit of personal boxcars (Voracek and Giroux most notably) but team balance improved.

Breaking in a new core

As Kelly from BSH shows, it’ll be some firsts for many Flyer players this August.

When the playoffs get started the Flyers will have some youngsters playing big minutes and pivotal roles.

From Carter Hart in goal to Philippe Myers and Travis Sanheim on defense, and up front with guys like Nicolas Aube-Kubel and potentially Farabee; the Flyers certainly have youth and inexperience in key spots for these playoffs.

Hart will be playing in his first professional postseason action the minute he steps on the ice, ditto Myers, while Sanheim was part of four games during the 2017-18 playoffs against the Penguins, but nothing like the high leverage situations he’ll play in as part of the Flyers’ second pairing behind Provorov and Matt Niskanen.

Though the Flyers have veteran options to turn to in the event that some of their prominent youth falters, they’ve been at their best with these youngsters playing big roles this season thus far —and wouldn’t be as dynamic without them in key roles.

Possible Lines (based on practice Sunday)


Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk - Derek Grant -Tyler Pitlick

Michael Raffl/Joel Farabee - Nate Thompson- Nic Aube-Kubel


Ivan Provorov / Matt Niskanen

Travis Sanheim / Philippe Myers

Robert Hagg / Justin Braun

-Shayne Gotisbehere, healthy scratch? Barring a change of lines from practice it looks like that could be what they’re working towards.

And now for the Pens..

Possible Lines (based on practice yesterday)


Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Conor Sheary

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Patrick Marleau - Jared McCann -Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev


Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / John Marino

Jack Johnson/ Justin Schultz

Expected scratches: Anthony Angello, Kevin Czuczman, Adam Johnson, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Sam Lafferty, Emil Larmi, Juuso Riikola, Evan Rodrigues, Chad Ruhwedel, Casey DeSmith, Phil Varone

—-It’s unknown and speculative if Crosby will play, but hockey is back so why stop being hopeful now? Sid himself said on the weekend he was hoping to practice with the team on Monday and play on Tuesday if all went well...And he completed part one of that yesterday and did so with “no restrictions”. So ideally he’s able to close out those plans by playing in this exhibition to tune up for Saturday.

—Finally hockey is back! After 53 years as a successful franchise, there aren’t too many firsts for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but these are unprecedented times. So it’s come to be that the team plays their first somewhat competitive game in the calendar month of July, ever.

—-And yet, who knows what we’ll see exactly. The players themselves probably don’t even know at this point what it will be like to play an NHL level game in a totally empty building. It’s going to be weird at first, and since this is an exhibition surely the first shift or first five minutes or first period is going to be extremely weird for everyone involved. And it’s fair to include fans in that too. No one knows what is going to happen or how quality the play will be or what the level of intensity is — it’s still Pens and Flyers our there, so you’d think it will have some bad blood! And yet, it’s still quite literally the first dip into uncharted waters. Welcome back NHL hockey and let’s see how this pans out.