GAME 19: FLYERS @ PENGUINS
Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (11-4-3) are in Western Pennsylvania the remainder of the week to take on Mike Sullivan's Pittsburgh Penguins (11-8-1) at PPG Paints Arena. This is the first of three straight games in Pittsburgh -- the first time in Flyers' franchise regular season history that the club will play three consecutive road games in the same city. Game time tonight is 7:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The games tonight, Thursday and Saturday will be the third, fourth and fifth of eight meetings between the Flyers and Penguins this season. The teams last faced off during the opening week of the regular season, as the Flyers earned 6-3 and 5-2 home wins.
Winners of three straight games, the Flyers enter this game coming off back-to-back 3-0 wins in Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday. In the latter game, the Flyers received goals from Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl and James van Riemsdyk.
JVR was selected by Flyers' fans as the Herr's Foods "Fire on Ice" Flyer of the month
for February. For the month, van Riemsdyk posted 12 points (5g, 7a) in eight games. Back in January, the NHL selected JVR as its East Division Player of the Month.
Both of van Riemsdyk's regular linemates also had stellar February production. Defending Selke Trophy winning center Sean Couturier returned from IR to post at least one point in every game and 10 points (5g, 5a) overall in six games. Right winger Joel Farabee had 12 points (3g, 9a) over his eight games.
Travis Konecny exited the NHL's COVID-19 protocol on Sunday. There are no Flyers on the list at present. Konecny skated on his own on Monday and will join the team in Pittsburgh. Officially, his availability is a game-day decision. If he gives it a go, it will be the first time since the second game of the regular season, the Flyers have their full lineup intact. Even on opening night, the Flyers were missing one player (Shayne Gostisbehere, who started the season in COVID-19 protocol).
On Sunday, Phil Myers re-entered the lineup after sitting out as a healthy scratch the previous afternoon. He skated on a pair with Robert Hägg. Erik Gustafsson exited the lineup.
Much has changed in Pittsburgh since the Flyers last saw the Penguins, and there are three familiar faces now on the Penguins' side. Former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is now the GM of the Penguins, replacing Jim Rutherford. Former Flyers assistant general manager Chris "Sarge" Pryor has reunited in Pittsburgh with Hextall as his assistant.
Last Thursday, the Penguins claimed defenseman Mark Friedman off waivers from the Flyers. Philadelphia had hoped to assign Friedman to the Taxi Squad but Pittsburgh grabbed him and placed him on their NHL roster. The 25-year-old right handed defenseman has donned No. 52 for the Penguins.
The Penguins split their back-to-back road sets this past week with Washington (3-2 overtime win, 5-2 loss) and the New York Islanders (4-3 overtime win, 2-0 loss).
Mark Jankowski is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Back during to the season-opening b2b losses to the Flyers, goaltender Tristan Jarry (Carter Hart's offseason training partner and good friend) was roughed up in both games. While Sidney Crosby scored a goal apiece in each of the first two game (he leads the Penguins overall with 7 goals and 18 points in 20 games), Evgeni Malkin (four goals and 12 points overall this season) was nowhere near his top form in either game. However, Bryan Rust and Jared McCann were highly effective in the first two games.
(Will be updated)
FLYERS (speculative based on Konecny return)
25 James van Riemsdyk - 14 Sean Couturier - 86 Joel Farabee
28 Claude Giroux - 13 Kevin Hayes - 19 Nolan Patrick
23 Oskar Lindblom - 21 Scott Laughton - 93 Jakub Voracek
12 Michael Raffl - 82 Connor Bunnaman - 11 Travis Konecny
9 Ivan Provorov - 53 Shayne Gostisbehere
6 Travis Sanheim - 61 Justin Braun
8 Robert Hägg - 5 Phil Myers
79 Carter Hart
[37 Brian Elliott]
PP1: JVR, Couturier, Hayes, Farabee, Provorov.
PP2: Giroux, Patrick, Voracek, Konecny, Gostisbehere.
Scratches: 62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel (healthy), 56 Erik Gustafsson (healthy)
Injured reserve: 48 Morgan Frost (shoulder surgery).
COVID-19 protocol: None
59 Jake Guentzel - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 17 Bryan Rust
19 Jared McCann - 18 Sam Lafferty - 42 Kasperi Kapanen
46 Zach Aston-Reese - 53 Teddy Blueger - 13 Brandon Tanev
57 Anthony Angello - 41 Josh Currie - 7 Colton Sceviour
28 Marcus Pettersson - 58 Kris Letang
5 Mike Matheson - 6 John Marino
4 Cody Ceci - 52 Mark Friedman
35 Tristan Jarry
[1 Casey DeSmith]
PP1: Rust, xxx Guentzel, Malkin, Letang Kris Letang
PP2: McCann, Jankowski, Kapanen, Matheson, Marino
Scratches:2 Chad Ruhwedel (healthy), 52 Mark Friedman (healthy), 14 Mark Jakowski (day-to-day, upper-body).
Injured reserve: 9 Evan Rodrigues (lower body), 16 Jason Zucker (lower body), 50 Juuso Riikola (upper body).
COVID-19 Protocol: 87 Sidney Crosby.