Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (11-10-2, 24 points, 6th place Metropolitan Division) @ Philadelphia Flyers (12-10-2, 26 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh, NBC Sports Philadelphia, streaming on ESPN+
Pens’ Path Ahead: The Pens’ recent rhythm of games every-other-day continues by going back to Florida to play in Tampa again on Wednesday and then over to the eastern side of that state to play the Panthers on Friday night. Then the boys will have a well-earned three day break before playing Arizona at home on Tuesday December 12th.
Opponent Track: As we all saw firsthand, the Flyers downed the Pens 4-3 by way of the gimmick on Saturday night to break a two-game losing streak. Philadelphia can afford to empty the tank tonight, if they so choose — they have two days off after tonight and aren’t in action again until Thursday night.
Season Series: The Pens go back to close out the year in Philly on Monday January 8th for the next matchup and third game of the season series. The cross-state rivals lock up after that for the fourth and final time on Sunday February 25th in Pittsburgh to complete a fairly early season series for a divisional opponent.
Hidden Stat: Per Penguins PR department, Pittsburgh has wins in three of its last four visits to Wells Fargo Center (3-1-0).
Getting to know the Flyers
Lines from Saturday
Tyson Foerster - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee - Scott Laughton - Cam Atkinson
Owen Tippett - Morgan Frost - Bobby Brink
Nic Deslauriers - Ryan Poehling - Garnet Hathaway
Cam York / Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler / Sean Walker
Marc Staal / Rasmus Ristolainen
Goalies: Carter Hart, Samuel Ersson
Possible scratches: Noah Cates, Egor Zamula, Louis Belpedio
IR: Ryan Ellis
—2020 first round pick Tyson Foerster is heating up by scoring a goal in each of his last two games (including a really nice shot on the power play against the Pens last time out). Foerster only had five goals in his first 29 NHL games prior to the last week of action.
—Ersson is the backup, but played well enough to get the win on Saturday (the Pens didn’t test him much early). Carter Hart has only won four of hi 12 career games against Pittsburgh and has a less than impressive average of a .894 save% and 3.46 GAA against the Pens over the years. Should the Flyers stick with the somewhat hot hand or go back to their main guy? Interesting question for them to weigh.
—Usually when franchise icons that have a full no movement clause and pick their own destination in a trade like Claude Giroux did, they don’t fetch a useful return to the club that they built their career with. Owen Tippett could be an exception to the rule. Tippett came over from Florida in the deal having not quite lived up to being a top-10 pick but he’s flourished ever since. Tippett scored 27 goals last season (even though it felt empty calorie-ish since someone has to play big minutes and score for a bottom feeder like Philly). He is off to a great start again this season and with his speed and offensive ability is showcasing himself well.
—Admittedly a near sacrilegious thought, but a Guentzel-Crosby-Konecny line might just be one of the sickest groups to maximize the Pens’ captain down the stretch of his career over the next few years. Not that it should be expected to happen or anything with trade politics being a real thing, but just sayin’.
—After cutting Ryan Poehling loose without a qualifying offer, the center has continued on his career track as a fourth line center with two goals and six points in the first quarter of the season. About as expected, but with a $1.4 million salary that Pittsburgh wasn’t in a position to spend on him.
And now for the Penguins
Infographic courtesy of Pens PR
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Drew O’Connor
Jansen Harkins - Lars Eller - Jeff Carter
Radim Zohorna - Joona Koppanen - Vinnie Hinostroza
Ryan Graves / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea / John Ludvig
Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic
Potential scratches: Noel Acciari (lower body injury), Matt Nieto (lower body injury), Dmitri Samorukov
IR: P.O. Joseph (lower body injury), Rickard Rakell (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel (lower body injury)
—Neither Acciari nor Nieto practiced yesterday and now the bottom-six lines are looking pretty rough now.
—Nedeljkovic has now gone 10 days and four games since playing. Jarry has been great lately, but for overall usage and strategy it will be interesting to see when and if they choose to get him in again. Given the next two games coming up are against expected playoff teams (TB, FLA), a night off for resting Jarry makes some sense. But the starter has been playing so well lately it would also be a tough call not not keep riding the hot hand.
The latest power play revamp
Bryan Rust is off the top unit, and for the first time since preseason, Kris Letang is back where he’s been for over a decade with the big guns.
Letang is back on the top power-play unit, joining Karlsson, Crosby, Malkin, and Guentzel.— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) December 3, 2023
The second unit is Pettersson, Rust, Smith, Eller, and Carter.
The weird item would be that Letang ran with the “big 4” through all of preseason, and the group even scored two goals in the final tuneup game. Then Letang was shuttled for an extra forward for the regular season, and ever since then the troubles have been real to convert.
Will this simple move finally work? It can’t hurt at this point.
Sid looking to take over
With one more point against the Flyers, Sidney Crosby will set the record for the most prolific career against Philadelphia. From Pens PR:
Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby has done some of his best work against the Philadelphia Flyers throughout his career. In 84 career games, Crosby has 53 goals, 71 assists and 124 points. His 53 goals are his most against any one team, and his 124 points are tied for most in NHL history:
Career Points vs. Philadelphia, NHL History
Player GP G A PTS
Sidney Crosby 83 53 71 124
Mario Lemieux 71 51 73 124
Jaromir Jagr 101 47 73 120
Bryan Trottier 110 44 73 117
Wayne Gretzky 58 34 66 100
Crosby enters tomorrow’s game with points in 14 of his last 15 games versus Philadelphia (11G-11A). Going back further, Crosby has 40 points (17G-23A) in his last 25 games against them, which includes points in 22 of those 25 games.