Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (19-8-5, 43 points, 4th place Metropolitan division) @ Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-6, 32 points, 6th place Metropolitan division)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: **Another streaming game, only available on ESPN+/Hulu in America**
Opponent Track: The early/extended Christmas break came at a bad time for the Flyers, who looked like they were getting comfortable under interim coach Mike Yeo and had a 4-0-1 record in the lead up to their season pause on December 18th. Philadelphia started out West after Christmas, beating expansion Seattle 3-2 in OT on December 29th, before falling 3-2 in OT the following night in San Jose. But 2022 has seen them get beat up by the other two California teams, losing 6-3 in LA on Saturday and then 4-1 to Anaheim on Tuesday and now they’re back East for the first time in a while.
Pens path ahead: This is the start of a six game road trip for the Pens. After tonight they head west to play Dallas on Saturday before going further out to California next week to play Anaheim, LA and these Sharks from 1/11- 1/15 and then in Vegas on Monday 1/17. After that marathon they finally return home next on 1/20 to play Ottawa.
Season Series: Despite not having any of Sidney Crosby, Mike Sullivan, Evgeni Malkin, Brian Dumoulin, Bryan Rust, Marcus Pettersson or Chad Ruhwedel, the Penguins still defeated the Flyers in the first game of the season 3-2 in overtime (shoutout Kris Letang GWG on Jeff Carter’s assist) way back on November 4th. The second game was scheduled for December 23rd but postponed and will be made up at a date to be named later, presumably sometime next month. So this becomes the second meeting of the season. The Pens go back to Philly on April 24th.
Opponent blog: Our pals over at Broad Street Hockey will have all the Flyers stuff and more. Sometimes I think they revel in their misery and dislike the Flyers almost as much as we dislike the Flyers!
Joel Farabee - Scott Laughton - Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk - Kevin Hayes - Gerry Mayhew
Oskar Lindblom - Morgan Frost - Derrick Brassard
Max Willman - Patrick Brown - Zack MacEwen
? / Rasmus Ristolainen
Cam York / Justin Braun
Keith Yandle / Kevin Connauton
Possible Starting Goalie: Carter Hart (Martin Jones backup)
COVID Protocol: Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov, Jackson Cates and Nick Seeler
IR: Sean Couturier, Nate Thompson, Sam Morin, Ryan Ellis
—Tough break for the Flyers when Giroux and Provorov were added to the COVID list just hours before the Anaheim game. For Provorov, he had not missed any games at all since entering the NHL in 2016.
—The hits kept on coming with Konecny and Sanheim joining the COVID list. This is a seriously depleted team, especially with Couturier and Ellis out with regular injuries.
—Provorov being out allowed the space for 2019 first round pick Cam York to make his NHL debut. It was an impressive debut, with York logging over 20 minutes and posting a 71.3% xGF% on the night. York is being thrown right into the deep end with all the Flyer absences, which only has grown since last game on the left side of the defense with Sanheim’s move to the COVID list.
—If Yandle can dodge the COVID virus, he’s now just nine games away from tying Doug Jarvis’ 955 consecutive game ironman streak.
—Gerry Mayhew is a made up name and person, and I won’t be convinced otherwise. Max Willman? This must be like what people think when they see the Pens’ lineup and see some of the random and extreme depth players when so many NHLers are out. Tough times in Philly with Couturier and Giroux on the shelf and the lineup has to rely on players like Scott Laughton, first line center. Heart really goes out to them....
Effort is futile
The Flyers made a few meaningful changes and moved some pieces around over the off-season. It feels like it’s been about C+, maybe B- moves over all, if you’re feeling generous. Not terrible, and yet the team is still not really much of a factor.
These were the "make or break" risks of Fletcher's offseason, the moves that stat folks (particularly on here) absolutely ripped. They've all either worked out or not totally flopped. Yet it hasn't mattered.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) January 4, 2022
Speaks to the depth of issues with the pre-offseason roster, I think.
And it hasn’t even been spectacular failures to point out as clearly bad ideas and yet, the Flyers just don’t have a lot going on, perpetually stuck about in the middle.
And now for the Pens..
Last Night Game Lines
Jake Guentzel- Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Evan Rodrigues - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brock McGinn
Kasper Bjorkqvist - Brian Boyle - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Projected Starting Goalie: Tristan Jarry (Casey DeSmith started last night)
Scratches: Mark Friedman
COVID Protocol: Jeff Carter, Drew O’Connor
IR: Evgeni Malkin (knee), Jason Zucker (lower body injury)
Taxi Squad: Radim Zohorna, Juuso Riikola, Louis Domingue
—There’s a chance, possibly good, that Carter will find his way back into the lineup after practicing yesterday and looking back on track.
Milestone and streak watch
- The Penguins are on an nine game winning streak, now the sixth longest in franchise history. They’ll look to stretch it to double digits for the first time since 2013.
- Sidney Crosby (1,347) is two points behind reaching Mats Sundin (1,349) for 29th place in all-time NHL scoring.
- Jake Guentzel has at least a point in the last 15 games he has played. It doesn’t officially count as a “point streak”, a streak technically gets broken due to games missed. But, personally, it’s a streak of points for him. Also he has 13G+10A in this stretch of his last 15 games.