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Game 23 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Pittsburgh Penguins 3/6/2021: lines, how to watch

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Afternoon hockey today from Pittsburgh!

NHL: MAR 04 Flyers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who: Philadelphia Flyers (12-5-3, 27 points, 4th place Eastern Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (12-9-1, 25 points, 5th place in the Eastern Division)

When: 1:00 p.m. eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, NBC Sports-Philadelphia across the way, and NBC Sports everywhere else

Opponent Track: The Flyers are 4-2-1 in their last seven games. After today, they return home for a four game homestand that begins with playing the Capitals tomorrow night.

Pens path ahead: The Pens have a back-to-back of their own with the Rangers coming to the ‘Burgh on Sunday night and a second game on Tuesday. At that point Pittsburgh hits the road for their first games against Buffalo on Thursday and next Saturday.

Season Series: The Flyers are up 3-1 on the Pens this season. Philly won the opening game of the season Pittsburgh 6-3 on January 13th and then 5-2 two days later. The Pens returned the favor by holding their home turf 5-2 on Tuesday, before the Flyers cameback to win on Thursday 4-3. After this week, the Flyers come back to Pittsburgh on April 15, and the Pens go to Philly on May 3+4 to finish the regular season series.

Recent History: The Pens are 8-3-1 vs PHI in the last 11 games at PPG Paints Arena.

SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Broad Street Hockey for the latest news to know about the Flyers.

Player Stats at a Glance

via hockeydb:

—After scoring two goals on Tuesday night, Joel Farabee was an addition to the COVID list on Thursday. We’ll see if he’s able to come back any time soon, ala Sidney Crosby, otherwise his loss in the lineup for the Flyers will be a meaningful one if it continues.

Possible Lines

FORWARDS

James van Riemsdyk - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny

Oscar Lindbolm - Claude Giroux - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Connor Bunnamann - Nolan Patrick - Michael Raffl

DEFENSEMEN

Ivan Provorov / Justin Braun

Travis Sanheim / Phil Myers

Robert Hagg / Shayne Gotisbehere

Announced starting goalie: Brian Elliott

Scratches: Erik Gustafsson

IR: Morgan Frost

—Coach Alain Vigneault altered all four of his lines and three of his d-pairs from Tuesday to Thursday. Some of that was needed with Farabee going on the COVID list, but the Flyers really found their footing as the game went on. Claude Giroux only had 1 goal in 17 games on the season coming into Thursday (mostly while on the wing), and he scored two goals alone on Thursday back in a center spot.

—Vigneault also announced yesterday that Brian Elliott again gets the nod to play in today’s game following his win on Thursday.

Braun stepping up

Defenseman Justin Braun has been playing strong since coming back from the COVID list. From Sam Carchidi at The Inquirer:

He is plus-5 in the four games since returning, playing three games on the second pairing with Travis Sanheim, and being on the top pairing Thursday with Ivan Provorov.

Braun, 34, played a season-high 22:23 Thursday and was plus-2. He is a team-leading plus-9 for the season.

“It stinks when you’re quarantined, and you’re happy to be back and around the guys — and I think that gives you a little extra energy to be back and doing what you love,” Braun said.

Before returning from contracting the coronavirus, Braun had been primarily used on the second or third pairings.

And now for the Pens..

Lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jared McCann - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen

Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev

Sam Lafferty - Mark Jankowski - Anthony Angello

Defense

Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / John Marino

Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci

Possible starting goalie: ?

Scratches: Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman

IR: Juuso Riikola, Evan Rodrigues, Jason Zucker

Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Emil Larmi. Frederick Gaudreau, Josh Currie

—The good news for the Pens is that it looks like Brian Dumoulin will be back in the lineup for the first time since January 26th. Dumoulin practiced in full yesterday on his normal spot with Letang, which will trickle down to help put the other defensemen all in more favorable postions and usages as well.

—The Pens did not mention which goalie will be starting. Jarry played well so he might get the nod for his third crack at the Flyers this week. There is a game tomorrow, so it stands to reason whichever goalie does not play today likely should be starting against NYR in the quick turnaround.

A surge of Letang

No defenseman in the NHL is lighting up the scoreboard right now as much as Kris Letang. This nugget is from the Pens PR squad:

Kris Letang continued his hot streak on Thursday night, scoring Pittsburgh’s first goal of the game and also finishing plus-2. The goal gives Letang five on the year, and only Aaron Ekblad (8), Jeff Petry (7), Darnell Nurse (6) and Drew Doughty (6) have more goals among defensemen. All five of Letang’s goals have come in his last seven games dating back to Feb. 20, and during that span, no NHL defenseman has more goals or points:

Player GP G A PTS

Kris Letang 7 5 4 9

Thomas Chabot 6 0 7 7

John Carlson 7 1 6 7

Cam Fowler 6 1 6 7

Mattias Ekholm 4 4 2 6