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Game 2 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia Flyers 1/15/2021: lines, how to watch

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The Pens and Flyers are running it back

NHL: JAN 13 Penguins at Flyers Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (0-1-0, 0 points, 8th place in the Eastern Division) @ Philadelphia Flyers (1-0-0, 2 points, t-1st place Eastern Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh viewing area, NBC-Philadelphia in Philly, NHL Network elsewhere in America, Sportsnet in Canada

Opponent Track: Defeated the Pens 6-3 on Wednesday night. Up next, the Flyers get a rare two-day break and are back in action at home to play Buffalo on Monday-Tuesday of next week for their next games.

Pens path ahead: The Pens go back to Pittsburgh for the next four games, getting Washington on Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night, then seeing the NY Rangers next Friday and again the following Sunday (1/24).

Season Series: Like every team in the Eastern division, the Pens and Flyers will meet eight times this season. But they won’t see each other for quite a while, given the circumstances. They play again on March 2nd and 4th in Pittsburgh.

Recent History: The Pens are 7-3-2 in the last 12 against the Flyers, but the most recent game looms largest at this point.

SBN Team Counterpart: Broad Street Hockey will have ya covered from the Philly perspective

Player Stats at a Glance

via hockeydb:

—Score six goals and it looks good for now. Every Flyer forward, save Jakub Voracek, recorded at least a point. The second line was a real problem for Pittsburgh, with Farabee’s four points leading the way.

—Besides Erik Gustafsson, who had two power play assists coming by the way of shots from the blue line, no other Flyer defenseman recorded a point on Wednesday.

Possible Lines

Forwards

Oskar Lindblom - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny

Claude Giroux - Kevin Hayes - Joel Farabee

James van Riemsdyk - Nolan Patrick - Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl - Scott Laughton - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defense

Ivan Provorov / Justin Braun

Travis Sanheim / Phil Myers

Robert Hagg / Erik Gustafsson

Expected starting goalie: Carter Hart

Scratches: Morgan Frost (healthy), Mark Friedman (healthy), Shayne Gostisbehere (COVID protocal)

Taxi Squad: Connor Bunnaman, Andy Andreoff, Sam Morin, Nate Prosser, Alex Lyon, Carsen Twarynski

He said it

—Gustafsson was Philly’s only major external off-season addition, coming over as a free agent from Calgary to help replace the retirement of Matt Niskanen.

Matchup and usage trends

In the first game (per Natural Stat Trick)...

-Sidney Crosby’s line played mostly against the Flyers top pair (Provorov/Braun) but also played a lot against the second pair (Sanheim/Myers). And while forward distribution was fairly evenly split, the Flyers had no problem putting their fourth line (Raffl-Laughton-Aube-Kubel) against the Pens’ top line, which ended up being the most common matchup. This also culminated in Raffl’s goal that proved to be the game winner.

-Evgeni Malkin’s line played heavily against the Flyers’ second pair (Sanheim/Myers) and while the forward shares were split, Philly commonly matched their second line (Giroux-Hayes-Farabee) against the Pittsburgh second line.

-The Jankowski line saw the most of the Flyers’ top line (Lindbolm-Couturier-Konecny).

-Teddy Blueger’s line saw a ton of the third pair (Hagg/Gustafsson) and then a bit of the Flyers’ third line (JvR-Patrick-Voracek)

We’ll see if the coaches adjust from these tendencies. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Couturier, last year’s Selke winner as top defensive forward in the league, wasn’t in a defensive/matchup role at all playing more at ES against Jankowski (5:04) than Crosby (4:22) and Malkin (3:04). The Flyers were very willing to use checking forward lines on the Pens’ stars. At even strength, the Pens’ top lines produced no offense, and worse both lines were on ice for goals against. It goes without saying that is an area for improvement in order to win.

And now for the Pens..

Trivia and facts, with data from Pens PR:

-Jake Guentzel has 11 points (4G-7A) in 12 career regular season games against the Flyers. Including postseason games, Guentzel has 24 points (10G-14A) in 18 games vs PHI.

-In 11 games he started following a game he lost last season, Tristan Jarry posted a .918 save percentage (315 saves/343 shots) and two shutouts.

-Five of the coaches in tonight’s game are former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coaches (Mike Sullivan, Todd Reirden, Mike Vellucci, Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo).

-It didn’t help on Wednesday, but the Pens as a road team were 10-1-1 last season when scoring the game’s first goal.

-In Sidney Crosby’s last 12 games against the Flyers, he has 22 points (8G-14A) which includes points in 10 of those 12 games.

-Jared McCann will appear in his 100th career game with the Pens tonight. McCann has 53 points (25G-28A) in his first 99 games for Pittsburgh, including an assist on Wednesday.

Lines:

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Evan Rodrigues

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Jared McCann - Mark Jankowski - Brandon Tanev

Colton Sceviour - Teddy Blueger -Sam Lafferty

Defense

Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang

Mike Matheson / John Marino

Marcus Pettersson / Cody Ceci

Scratches: Juuso Riikola (healthy), Chad Ruhwedel (healthy)

Expected starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

IR: Zach Aston-Reese

NHL Non-Roster: Kasperi Kapanen (COVID protocol, quarantine)

Taxi Squad: Anthony Angello, Frederick Gaudreau, Drew O’Connor, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Alex D’Orio, Maxime Lagace

He said it...

3 keys to the game:

  1. As mentioned in the usage section, the Pens need more out of the Malkin line (and more defending against the Hayes line). Especially with the Flyers electing to often to send their defensive ace in Couturier off to play lower lines and not check 87/71. In theory, the Pens need to make the most of that, assuming that usage trend holds again for this game. A lot is expected of the Pens’ powerful second line and they need to do more than they showed on Wednesday.
  2. How does Jarry bounce back for the second game? The loss wasn’t all on him, and perhaps this is more aptly focuses on “how does the team defense bounce back”, but either way, Pittsburgh has to cut down on key mistakes and keep the puck out of the net more than the did in a four goal against third period.
  3. Win the special teams battle. The Pens’ PK looked shaky early. Their power play looked even worse, only spared on paper by Crosby making a special play. It’s tough to play winning hockey when losing on special teams. Doubly so on the road and early in the season. Plus it’s the NHL, most power plays happen early in the game and set the tone for the game. The Pens fell behind and were playing from a position of catching up for a lot of the game due to giving up the two goals while on the PK. That needs to be flipped this time around for desired results.