Gameday vs Pittsburgh: Flyers Top Rival Comes to Town

Philadelphia Flyers (1-6-0) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (5-1-0)
Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia, Pa.
7:00 p.m. on CSN and 97.5 FM The Fanatic

Setting the Stage - The Flyers

The scoring problems persist - just 10 goals in seven games - and the Flyers are going into a matchup against another team that can score in bunches.

Mental mistakes and stupid penalties have halted any kind of momentum the Flyers have gathered in their last few games in which they've actually played better. Those problems shone the brightest in their 3-2 loss to Vancouver on Tuesday.

Steve Mason had a horrible turnover behind the net that resulted in an easy tap-in and Zac Rinaldo took a bad high-sticking penalty late in the game that set up the power play goal by Vancouver that won the game.

Then there is the lost defensive pairing of Nicklas Grossmann and Braydon Coburn, who have looked absolutely terrible this season, especially in Tuesday's loss.

Philadelphia will need to not make those same mistakes if it no only wants to end the skid but beat a rough rival and get back on the winning side of things.

The lone bright spot in that game was Tye McGinn, whose two goals gave him the team lead in goals scored with three in just two games this season.

What to Expect - The Opponent

The Penguins are winners of their last two games and are 5-1 to start the season.

On Tuesday, the Penguins beat Edmonton, 3-2, thanks to Evgeni Malkin's game-winner in the third period. Sidney Crosby had three points in that game to give him an NHL-leading 12 points.

Pittsburgh has the third most goals in the NHL with 23 through six games, an average of 3.83.

Crosby's five goals are third in the NHL. Forwards Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Malkin each have six points and Jussi Jokinen has five.

The Masked Men - Project Starters

Philadelphia: Steve Mason (1-4-0, .926 sv%, 2.23 GAA)
Mason is playing well for the Flyers. Granted a mental mistake cost him a goal against Vancouver, Mason has been playing well through his first five starts. He has the team's only win, and deserves to have more than just one.

Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury (5-0-0, .926 sv%, 1.80 GAA)
Fleury looked really bad in training camp and preseason, something that carried over from last season. Penguins fans were getting worried and Fleury was becoming a running joke in the NHL. Fleury is the one doing the laughing now. He's unbeaten in his first five starts and has a 1.80 GAA and .926 save percentage, which have helped the Penguins jump out to a 5-1 start.

 

Keys to the Game

1. Penalties - Taking dumb penalties has cost the Flyers in the past week - giving seven power plays to Detroit in a 5-2 loss and a costly penalty from Rinaldo on Tuesday cost them the game. Staying out of the box will also help keep the 18th-ranked penalty kill unit off the ice.

2. Fleury - He may be on a hot tear to start the season but he still gets flustered easy. Pressuring Fleury and the Penguins defense will create more second-chances.

3. Crosby - Neutralizing "The Next One" is a lot easier said than done. It's doable, but it will require a much better effort from the Flyers blue line and attacking forwards.

Quotable

“Obviously third period is a big period, especially during tight games. That is something we need to work on. I think you can break it down to D-zone coverage and stuff like that. There are a lot of good players in this league so we just need to stick with it, obviously tighten up a few things, and go from there.” - Flyers forward Adam Hall on third period breakdowns.

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John Russo
Editor; Featured Writer

Twitter: @Roose_TCL; @TCLFlyers 
Email: russo@thecheckingline.com