Currently riding a two-game slide, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ will certainly have their hands full against a hungry Philadelphia Flyers team Wednesday.
Scoring nine goals in their last two games, the Flyers’ come into Wednesday’s matchup firing on all cylinders, and seem to have regained the offensive prowess they had when they eliminated Pittsburgh in the 2012 NHL Playoffs.
As for the Penguins, they enter this game having registered just two goals in their last two games; however, they will have a forwards’ Beau Bennett and James Neal — two players they didn’t have in their last meeting on Oct. 17.
Hopefully now with a game under their belts, Bennett and Neal can provide a spark into a recently sluggish offense. A scoring unit thats seen star Evgeni Malkin record just three goals on the season, perhaps a return to the CONSOL Energy Center is just what Pittsburgh’ needs.
What they won’t be entirely pleased to see is Flyers’ forward Claude Giroux, who got his first goal of the season last Saturday and has three points (1G, 2A) in his last two games. Having compiled just seven assists until he potted that goal, Giroux will without a doubt be coming in with a full head of steam, considering his history within this rivalry.
So while we anticipate a grueling matchup between these two in-state rivals, let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not:
Hot — Claude Giroux, Vincent Lecavalier, Braydon Schenn, Jakub Voracek
As referenced before, Giroux has three points in the past two contests, so Pittsburgh’ needs to be on their toes when number-28 comes into town. Lecavalier, Schenn, and Voracek all have three points in their last two games as well, so the Pens’ might want to key-in on keeping them in check too.
Cold – Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Kimmo Timonen
Couturier, the Flyers’ eighth-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, has just two assists in his past 10 games and just four helpers on the season. Simmonds, who’s highly-touted as a prominent figure in front of the net, has just two assists in his last five contests. And Timonen, who’s a known for his power play presence, has only one point (1A) on the year.
Hot – Jussi Jokinen, Chris Kunitz
It’s hard to figure out who’s hot for Pittsburgh because there hasn’t been any stand-outs in recent action. However, if I were to pick, Jokinen has four points (3G, 1A) in the past five games. Currently tied for first on the team in goals (8), Jokinen ranks first in shot percentage (19%), and has been contributing steadily so far this season. Kunitz, who is one of the players tied with Jokinen for the team-lead in goals, has four points (3G, 1A) in his last five games as well.
Cold – Beau Bennett, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Niskanen
Although it isn’t fair to say that Bennett is cold because of his recent return from a lengthy injured reserve stint, he’s had a hard time producing in the games he has played in. Recording just two points (2A) on the year so far, Bennett needs to start scoring goals to help balance out the lineup. Dupuis has just three points (3A) in his last 10 games, and hasn’t scored a goal since Oct. 15, which is somewhat surprising considering the amount he potted last season (20). Niskanen has an overall minus-4 rating in the past two games, and after getting off to a hot-start to the season (six points in his first seven games), he’s only got one assist in his last seven contests.