Flyers, Pens Match Up For Another Classic Battle
Philadelphia Flyers (11-12-1) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (15-8-0)
Wells Fargo Center -- Philadelphia, PA
7:00 PM on CSN and 97.5 The Fanatic
Setting the Stage
This is the third of four meetings between the Flyers and Penguins. They have split the season series with the road team having won each game. In their last meeting the Flyers won a wild 6-5 game thanks to Jakub Voracek's hat trick.
The Flyers lost on Tuesday to the Rangers, 4-2, snapping a two-game winning streak and knocking them back below .500. With 24 games played, they have played the most games in the NHL thanks to a busy February.
Pittsburgh is on a two-game winning streak, having beaten the Habs and Lightning respectively. In those two wins, Pittsburgh has scored a combined 11 goals. Chris Kunitz (3), Sidney Crosby and Matt Cooke (2) scored seven of those 11 goals.
Evgeni Malkin has been fine in his return from concussion symptons, scoring a goal and assist in their win over Tampa on Tuesday. For the Flyers, they have three guys listed as day-to-day, with Nicklas Grossmann most likely to play against Pittsburgh.
What to Expect
The first meeting between these two teams was a 3-1 win by Pittsburgh. The second, however, was a ridiculous 7-6 game on NBC. This could either be another shootout, or a grittier, nastier game could be expected between the biggest rivalry in hockey currently.
Voracek, who scored three goals in their last meeting, leads the Flyers in points (27), assists (17) and is tied with Wayne Simmonds in goals (10). His linemate, captain Claude Giroux, is second with 23 points (7 goals, 16 assists).
Crosby has been incredible for the Penguins once again, sitting first in the NHL in points (36) and assists (25). James Neal is in the top five in the league in goals, netting a team-high 14. Kunitz is second in points (28) and goals (12) on the team.
The Masked Men
Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to get the start in net for Philadelphia. As long as he is having days off, he will start it appears. He has a 2.68 GAA and .903 save percentage in his league-high 22 starts.
Marc-Andre Fleury should be in net for the Pens. He's 11-5 with a 2.44 GAA and .911 save percentage. He's allowed at least three goals in three of his last four games.
Keys to the Game
1. Slow Down. The Penguins are one of the fastest teams in the NHL. They can really light the lamp against the Flyers, especially if they aren't fully healthy at the blue line. The Flyers will have to dictate the pace of the game. If they get caught up in a fast-paced game, they won't win.
2. Luke Schenn. Tuesday's 4-2 loss was one of the worst games Schenn has had this season. Twice he was way out of position, resulting in Ryan Callahan's game-tying goal at the end of the first and Rick Nash's go-ahead goal early in the third. He will have to get back on track in terms of playing smarter: using the body to man-up the puck carrier, don't give up his ground down low, and not turnover the puck.
3. Team Effort. The entire Flyers team needs to simply play better. Giroux, Bryzgalov, Sean Couturier and Kimmo Timonen all stood out to have had poor showings in the Flyers loss Tuesday. A bad loss combined with playing their hated rival should wake the team back up.
“We need a little bit of separation. Pittsburgh is ahead of us and they have games in hand. Every game will seem more and more important. … It seems like it’s been playoff hockey since Game 15.”
- LW Scott Hartnell