Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Game Preview


The Pittsburgh Penguins will faceoff against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins can surely use the two points that are up for grabs as the Metropolitan Division playoff seeding is extremely tight. Currently, the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins are tied at 95 points, and the Washington Capitals only one point behind.

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This game doesn’t mean much to the Flyers in terms of standings, as they are already eliminated from playoff contention. However, in this well-known heated rivalry, I wouldn’t expect anything less than maximum effort and physical play. I use the word “physical” loosely, because this one has downright nasty written all over it.

Players To Watch

For the Philadelphia Flyers, the obvious players to keep an eye on will be Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Voracek is only three points behind Sidney Crosby in the NHL scoring race with 76 points. Claude Giroux is quietly having a very good season statistically as well, boasting 69 points. To put that into perspective, he trails Evgeni Malkin by one point.

Other players to watch will be Pittsburgh-born R.J. Umberger and shutdown Center Sean Couturier. Umberger has been disappointing this season but he always tends to ramp things up when playing in Pittsburgh. Couturier is the ultimate annoyance for Evgeni Malkin, as he always plays him very tight. He has been able to shut down the big Russian Center on multiple occasions and always seems to frustrate him into bad penalties. That will be a matchup the Pittsburgh Penguins will need to keep a close eye on tonight.

Who should the Pittsburgh Penguins watch the closest? Zac Rinaldo, of course. Not due to any type of offensive production threat, but instead, the threat of him trying to end someone’s season with his normal unnecessary antics.

For the Pittsburgh Penguins, of course, the usual suspects of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will have a huge impact on this contest. It seems that this team lives or dies based on how well Crosby and Malkin handle the frustrating physicality of the Flyers.

However, two other names to watch tonight are Ian Cole and Patric Hornqvist. Cole saw a boost in playing time on Sunday with Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff injured and the Penguins dressing five defensemen. He logged over 25 minutes of ice time and had the highest possession numbers on the team. After a very impressive outing, I’d expect to see an increased role for him tonight. Hornqvist’s play in front of the net has been quite frustrating for opponents. The Flyers will likely take offense to him attacking the crease as he does, and he could draw them into bad penalties. Of course, that’s as long as the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins can avoid unnecessary retaliation.

Line Combinations

There was no indication of lines from this morning’s skate since it was an optional practice. I’ll assume we’ll see the following.

Perron – Crosby – Hornqvist
Kunitz – Malkin – Comeau
Winnick – Sutter – Downie
Bennett – Lapierre – Spaling/Adams

Martin – Lovejoy
Scuderi – Cole

We will also likely see Daniel Winnik taking shifts on Defense during shorthanded situations.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are five points away from clinching a playoff berth. The points are important tonight, but so is staying healthy. There’s no need to get caught up in goonery in this one.  Play hockey, stay healthy, and continue preparing for the post season.

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