Who: Philadelphia Flyers (19-17-6, 44 points, 6th place Eastern Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (27-13-2, 56 points, 3rd place in the Eastern Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, NBC Sports-Philadelphia across the way, and NBCSN nationally
Opponent Track: It’s hard to believe less than six weeks ago on March 6th the Flyers had more points than the Pens coming into the game the last time these teams met. Starting that night, Pittsburgh is 15-4-1 ever since. The Flyers are 7-12-3. Philly is just 1-3-1 in the last five games and finding new lows every game; losing 5-3 to Buffalo on Sunday and then getting blown out 6-1 by Washington on Tuesday night.
Pens path ahead: The Pens have this one home game then go on the road for the weekend for two afternoon games in Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday. Then next week the boys return back home for a five game home-stand that begins with seeing the Devils three times next Tuesday, Thursday and the following Sunday (4/24).
Season Series: The Pens are only 2-3-0 vs PHI this season. Philly won the opening game of the season Pittsburgh 6-3 on January 13th and then 5-2 on 1/15, in what seems like ages ago. The Pens won by a score of 5-2 on 3/2, and the Flyers went from a 3-0 hole to win on 4-3 on 3/4. Pittsburgh bounced back to win 4-3 on 3/4. After today, the Pens go to Philly on May 3+4 to finish the regular season series.
Recent History: The Pens are 9-3-1 vs PHI in the last 12 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
—Just from the stat sheet, it doesn’t paint the picture as to why Philadelphia has collapsed (until you get to their goaltending, anyways). At 2.90 goals/game, the Flyers are a respectable 14th place in the league. They haven’t had the most impressive offense, but it hasn’t been bad and there’s no real fingers to point in blame here.
—But then you get to those goaltenders. Carter Hart has undoubtedly been one of the worst players in the league, and one of the single biggest disappointments this season. The Flyers are 30th in goals allowed at 3.57 goals/game, worst in the league (besides Ottawa).
Lines from Tuesday night
James van Riemsdyk - Sean Couturier - Joel Farabee
Jakub Voracek - Claude Giroux - Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Nolan Patrick
Oscar Lindbolm - Tanner Laczynski - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Ivan Provorov / Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim / Robert Hagg
Shayne Gotisbehere / Phil Myers
Possible Starting goalie: ?
Scratches: Alex Lyon, Sam Morin
IR: Morgan Frost
—The Flyers had Brian Elliott go the distance in a 6-1 loss on Tuesday to the Caps after allowing four first period goals. But Hart is just 0-5-2 with an .850 save% since March 20th and was recently made a healthy scratch. That didn’t much seem to work giving up four goals in a loss to Buffalo on Sunday for his last time out. No matter where the Flyers have turned in net, they’ve been giving up a ton of goals.
Flyers down bad
Broad Street Hockey has turned into a tough place to be (hate to see it) with biting but honest headlines lately such as, “This team quit” and “The walking dead” and “Doomsday”. After hyping up the start of another season, including dancing on the old and bad Penguins graves after the first two games of the season, it turns out this will not, in fact, be the year of the great Flyer coming out party.
There’s still a few weeks left in the season, and you just know changes will be coming after they figure out what direction to go. From BSH:
One of the key points to come out of Fletcher’s presser on Monday after the trade deadline passed was that, with 15 (now 14) games left in the season, there was still a lot of time left to play, and this remaining stretch was going to be very important, if only for internal evaluation purposes. Management has a lot to address when the offseason hits, and there are likely very few untouchables on this team at this point, so it doesn’t feel like much of a stretch to say that these players are playing to set a more positive tone and not get themselves traded.
And, in short, if the players want to prove that they’re worth betting on next season, a game like this? It isn’t it. The Flyers, although not perfect, did some good work in the first few games of this month, but they backslid into March level flatness and breakdown of defense and details last night, and that simply cannot be how things go from here on out. Maybe the Flyers regroup well for Thursday’s game, we’re very much hoping that they do, because the team should be better than this, and they should be proving that. And if they don’t, well, we’re in for a long last month of the season.
Here’s a random, crazy thought....The Flyers have some talented individual pieces scattered their roster, but they’re not really old and not really young. They don’t have a ton of cap space ($13 million, but will need new contracts for Hart, Sanheim and Patrick). Also the Flyers have been pretty steady, stable, not making bold player moves really over about the last 10 years or so, which is a far cry from their manic, desperate days (ala trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on the same day, signing Brzygalof, etc)....Ya know which GM has had some success and is looking for a job and has never been afraid to role the dice and make lots of trades?....
....Wouldn’t that be something.
And now for the Pens..
Yesterday’s practice lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jared McCann - Jeff Carter - Jason Zucker
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Evan Rodrigues
Radim Zohorna - Mark Jankowski - Colton Sceviour
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Sam Lafferty, Chad Ruhwedel, Frederick Gaudreau (injured)
IR: Evgeni Malkin, Mark Friedman, Kasperi Kapanen, Brandon Tanev
Taxi Squad: Juuso Riikola, Yannick Weber, Emil Larmi, Anthony Angello
—The Pens are likely to break Jeff Carter in as a center, and give him the best two non-Crosby offensive wingers possible in McCann and Zucker. It will be fascinating to see which of these wingers might form a connection with Carter the most, they might just stay there, with the other going to join Evgeni Malkin+Kasperi Kapanen on the second line someday when we’re allowed to have nice things.
—Also with the public news that Tanev is likely out for at least the rest of the regular season, this is a great opportunity for Rodrigues to hook up with what remains of the Buzzsaw line as an audition for what could morph into the Pens’ fourth line down the stretch.
The diagonal letter jersey returns to Pittsburgh
Tonight for the first time the Pens will wear their reverse retro jersey at home this season. It’s a one-off but small step in the right direction for how it used to be in the old days where NHL home teams wore white and the visitor got to showcase their color, giving the home crowd a new and different color matchup most nights. Instead now, the visitor wears white and the home team wears their color for the same old scheme game after game (besides when the home team like the Pens wears an alternate).