March 24, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) carries the puck up ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the overtime period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins Preview

Oct 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) screens Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. The Penguins defeated the Flyers, 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It was almost a month ago when the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins last saw each other. Tonight is the second of five meetings between the two and it should be a fun one in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Flyers were a much different team back on Oct. 17. They were 1-6 and had lost their last game in heartbreak-fashion. Steve Mason managed to keep the Flyers around for forty minutes. During the third period, the flood gates opened and the Penguins won 4-1. This time around, the Flyers are coming off their best game of the season and are looking to win their third consecutive game.

Playing the backend of a back-to-back is not easy. The Penguins are also well rested. Their last game was Saturday Nov. 9 where they lost to the St. Louis Blues 2-1.

In the last two seasons, Pittsburgh has taken control of this rivalry, winning four of the past five games against the Flyers. While the Penguins have the dominant hand, rivalry games are too unpredictable. If you need any coaxing, watch the highlights of this game.

The Penguins have hit a skid, going 5-5 in their last ten and have also lost their last two games while the Flyers have gone 3-1-1 in their last four.

Like the Flyers, the Penguins have some issues with one of their top forwards. During the offseason Superstar Evgeni Malkin. Malkin signed a mega-contract valued at 8 years, $76 million – an average cap hit of $9.5 million per season – but has not lived up to the hype of the contract.  Going into tonight’s contest, Malkin only has three goals and 12 assists. This is unlike Malkin who has two Art Ross trophies, a Hart Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Calder Trophy. Malkin is a sleeping giant, just waiting to be awoken.

While the Flyers do not have the offensive firepower of Malkin and Sidney Crosby, they do have forward depth. Every line scored Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators and both power play units tallied a goal. Captain Claude Giroux could have had a goal to add to his two assists last night, but Craig Anderson made a spectacular save. Since calling the players only meeting after the loss to New Jersey, Giroux has three points in two games. The Flyers have outscored their opponents 9-2 in the last two games.

For the Flyers to win tonight, they have to grind it out against the Penguins. They need to be physical and play with a snarl the whole game. The Penguins are a run and gun hockey team, and if the Flyers can play physical, but disciplined hockey, they have a chance to win tonight.

Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. on NBCSN.

Lines:

LINE 1 — Scott Hartnell / Claude Giroux / Jakub Voracek
LINE 2 — Brayden Schenn / Vincent Lecavalier / Wayne Simmonds
LINE 3 — Steve Downie / Sean Couturier / Matt Read
LINE 4 — Jay Rosehill / Adam Hall / Zac Rinaldo

LINE 1 — Kimmo Timonen / Braydon Coburn
LINE 2 — Nicklas Grossmann / Mark Streit
LINE 3 — Erik Gustafsson / Luke Schenn

STARTER — Ray Emery – (1-3, 3.25 GAA, .879 SV%)

 

Notes:

-The Flyers are 5-2 at Consol Energy Center. 7-3 including th3 2012 playoffs.

-Pittsburgh owns the 7th ranked power play – 21.7 percent – in the National Hockey League. If the Flyers allow them to play a man up multiple times, the Pens will capitalize.

-While the Flyers power play does rank near the bottom of the league – 11.9 percent – they showed some improvement Tuesday night. Erik Gustafsson seemed very comfortable, and I would expect him to stay on the second unit tonight.

-In his career against the Penguins, Emery is 4-4-2 with a 2.95 GAA and an .885 SV%.

-Fluery is 24-13-1 with a 2.76 GAA and a .903 SV% in his career against the Flyers. This season, he is among the best in the N.H.L. with a record of 10-4, a 2.07 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

Tags: Claude Giroux NHL Philadelphia Flyers

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