Just ten days ago, the Flyers hosted the Penguins in the last game before the All-Star Break. The Flyers shut out the Pens 3-0, continuing on a hot streak in which they won five of their last seven. One could say that the break came at the worst time for the Flyers.
This will be the third contest of the season between the two Pennsylvania clubs. Back in October, it was all Pittsburgh as they trounced the Flyers 7-1. Last week the Flyers returned the favor, shutting out the Pens. They will play one more game as the Flyers will host at the end of March.
The Flyers headed into the All-Star break on a high note, however, as their streaky season continues. Just after the Christmas break, the Flyers went into a bit of a free-fall, having lost five of six games. They won four straight going into the Christmas break. After a ten-day lay-off and injuries still looming, what can we expect as they start the unofficial second half of the season? The Pens have been hit by the injury bug just like the Flyers. Sidney Crosby missed a significant amount of time with knee surgery and all-star, Jake Guentzel, is expected to miss the remainder of the season after having shoulder surgery. However, the Penguins keep winning and sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 68 points.
Just yesterday, the Flyers called up both Alex Lyon and Connor Bunnaman. The news proved that Hart had not yet healed from an abdominal strain. He is set to miss at least another week, which may not be a bad thing since they play two of three on the road. If Hart is back in a week, that puts him to start at home vs New Jersey on Feb. 6th.
Shayne Gostisbehere was back at practice after having minor arthroscopic surgery on his knee. It is reported that he will not play Friday as he is not ready to return to the lineup but did travel with the team to Pittsburgh.
With Michael Raffl set to return after his injury from the LA Kings game, the lines will look like this, minus Ghost and Brian Elliot getting the start.
Look for the Giroux line to have a really good game. If the Flyers have any chance of winning, the top line must lead the way. One other note, I am excited to see the line Laughton, Hayes and Farabee back together. this line has played really well together and showed some really good chemistry.
Expect a Heavy Dose of Sidney Crosby
Last week, Crosby had one of his worst games against the Flyers. In fact, he was held scoreless which felt like the first time in forever. It wasn’t, the Flyers held him scoreless in one of four games last year. However, in the previous three seasons, the Flyers only held Crosby pointless in three games. Three out of twelve are not very good odds.
Crosby missed a tap in goal on a puck sitting in the crease behind Brian Elliot. His shots were not Crosby-like. He just didn’t have it last week. I have a feeling he is going to rebound and will be all over the ice. Crosby has more points against the Flyers than he does any other NHL team with 102 points against the Orange and Black.
Watching Crosby is still amazing. He has so much talent it makes me sick. Not only that, his leg strength is amazing as he is damn near impossible to push off of the puck. There is a reason he has led the Penguins to hoist multiple Cups.
Tasked with shutting down Crosby will likely be Sean Couturier’s line. Coots is the best defensive forward on the roster and one of the best in the league. He is a perennial Selke Trophy candidate. It will be up to Alain Vigneault to roll his lines to get this preferred matchup.
I am not feeling confident about this one. I think that the break came at the worst possible time when the Flyers were playing really good hockey. Regardless, the Flyers need to start strong and continue to build momentum heading into the playoff push.
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