GAME PREVIEW: FLYERS @ PENGUINS
Concluding a three-game road trip, the Philadelphia Flyers (1-3-2) are in western Pennsylvania tonight to take on their cross-state archrivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins (3-1-0). Game time is 7:30 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.
This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season, and the first of two in Pittsburgh.
The clubs will rematch on January 20 in Philadelphia, April 1 in Pittsburgh and April 5 in Philly. Last season, the Flyers won each of the last four games they played against the Pens. Overall, the Flyers enjoy a 9-1-1 record at the Consol Energy Center in the regular season; 11-2-1 if the 2012 playoffs are included.
After tonight’s game, the Flyers return home. They will take on the Detroit Red Wings at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night. On Tuesday, the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings come to town. Flyers outlook
Any hopes that the Flyers would carry over momentum from Saturday’s 6-5 comeback win in Dallas were quickly dashed last night in Chicago. The powerhouse Blackhawks ran roughshod over Philadelphia, dominating the first period to a degree that Philadelphia looked an ECHL-caliber team in comparison to the Blackhawks.
The Flyers were considerably more competitive over the final 40 minutes of play, but they were already in a 3-0 hole in the scoreboard. Philly’s vaunted comeback ability failed them in this game, as they made no headway in closing the deficit and went on to lose by a 4-0 count.
Philadelphia’s penalty killing started the season on a 9-for-10 run but has been torched twice in each of the last two games. Tonight, they will go up against a Penguins team that has clicked at a staggering (but unsustainable) 47 percent efficiency. The club’s five-on-five play has been a sore spot all season. The Flyers enter tonight’s game against the high-scoring Penguins having been outscored by a 17-10 margin at even strength in six games.
Braydon Coburn (lower-body injury) has been practicing with the team and coach Craig Berube hoped to have the veteran defenseman back in the lineup last night. Coburn, who has been wearing a walking boot on his left foot when not on the ice, still did not feel ready to play last night.
The Flyers’ lineup could see some changes tonight after being shut out last night in Chicago. The club is still missing Vincent Lecavalier (left foot injury). Jason Akeson has been a healthy scratch in each of the last two games. Penguins outlook
Tonight’s game marks the conclusion of a three-game homestand for the Penguins. The team enters tonight’s game averaging four goals per game while yielding only 10.
Last Thursday, the Penguins roared out to a quick 2-0 lead over the Dallas Stars on power play goals by Sidney Crosby (an own goal that went in off the stick of Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn) and Chris Kunitz (rebound put-in of a Kris Letang shot). The Pens were unable to build on the lead, however, and entered the third period clinging to a 2-1 lead. Goals in the final three minutes of the third period by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin lifted the Stars to a stunning 3-2 win.
On Saturday, the Penguins found themselves trailing the New York Islanders by a 1-0 count at the first intermission. Closely spaced second-period power play goals by Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hörnqvist put the Penguins ahead 2-1 in the latter stages of the second period. Hörnqvist tallied an empty-net insurance goal late in the final stanza as the Pens went on to a 3-1 victory. Marc-Andre Fleury turned back 34 of 35 shots to earn the win in net.
The Penguins have undergone significant changes since they last faced the Flyers. Out are longtime head coach Dan Bylsma, general manager Ray Shero, controversial but high-scoring winger James Neal and top-pairing defenseman Matt Niskanen. In are new head coach Mike Johnston, general manager Jim Rutherford and new players such as former Predators forward Hörnqvist (who has racked up four goals and four assists in his first six games as a Penguin) and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (one assist, plus-two). The club also added two-stint former Flyers winger Steve Downie (zero points, minus-one, 15 penalty minutes).
On the injury front, forward Beau Bennett is on IR with a lower-body injury. Pascal Dupuis got hit by a puck in the head/neck area in Thursday’s game and had to be stretchered off the ice. Fortunately, the player escaped serious injury and he was right back in the lineup on Saturday.
After tonight’s game, the Penguins are right back in action tomorrow night. The Pens will head to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Red Wings. Projected lineups (subject to change)
12 Michael Raffl – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek
10 Brayden Schenn – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 17 Wayne Simmonds
18 R.J. Umberger – 14 Sean Couturier – 24 Matt Read
36 Zac Rinaldo – 76 Chris VandeVelde – 41 Blair Jones
8 Nicklas Grossmann – 47 Andrew MacDonald
55 Nick Schultz – 32 Mark Streit
15 Michael Del Zotto – 22 Luke Schenn
29 Ray Emery
[35 Steve Mason]
Scratches: Vincent Lecavalier (left foot), Jason Akeson (healthy), Braydon Coburn (lower body).
14 Chris Kunitz – 87 Sidney Crosby – 72 Patric Hörnqvist
71 Evgeni Malkin – 16 Brandon Sutter – 9 Pascal Dupuis
17 Blake Comeau – 13 Nick Spaling – 23 Steve Downie
27 Craig Adams – 57 Marcel Goc – 38 Zach Sill
3 Olli Määttä – 58 Kris Letang
10 Christian Ehrhoff – 7 Paul Martin
47 Simon Despres – 4 Rob Scuderi
29 Marc-Andre Fleury
[1 Thomas Greiss]
This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.