Spying on the Saboteur: Can the Flyers finally get past the Pens?

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Following a pitiful performance on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers are in a must-win situation in Pittsburgh tonight.

Remember when Mike Matheson scored in the third period on Tuesday? That play was a microcosm of the Philadelphia Flyers’ performance. Nothing worked the way it should have, even emptying the net. As Carter Hart began to skate towards the bench, Matheson executed his shooting lane.

Joel Farabee acted as the only silver-lining against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He accounted for both of the Flyers’ goals in the loss. Tonight, Philadelphia is in a must-win scenario. Brian Elliott will start, hoping to add to his five wins on the season. The Flyers need to win to maintain the position in the playoff race.

In 2020-2021, Alain Vigneault lost back-to-back games if the Boston Bruins were the opponent. Following the three-goal defeat on Tuesday, Vigneault will make personnel changes. He’s one of the best in the NHL at making game-to-game adjustments throughout his career. Will Vigneault make the right decisions to keep Philadelphia in the playoff hunt?

Pittsburgh Penguins – Forward Spotlight

Without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin averages at least a point per game. That is not as surprising of a stat as it sounds. Of course, minus a star player, the other star player will take on a larger role. Kasperi Kapanen had himself a two-point night on Tuesday. On the second-line, he commands attention.

On two occasions, Kapanen took advantage of the Flyers. The first time, Shayne Gostisbehere attempted a blue-line pass, intercepted by Kapanen on the way to a goal. Then, on a powerplay, Kapanen made his mark once again. Both plays, finished by Kapanen, began with poor decision-making from Philadelphia. The smarter team usually wins, which were the Penguins.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Defenseman Spotlight

Mark Friedman, who Ron Hextall reunited with, earned his first point of the season. The difference here is he tallied his first point in Pittsburgh as a Penguin. Tuesday was sweet for Friedman. Not only did he face the team who processed him through waivers. He contributed to a team win against his former team.

Friedman is a defenseman who the Flyers will miss. A controversial take could be that he was underutilized under Vigneault. In Pittsburgh, he provides quality depth on a banged-up team. Immediately, Friedman proved to be more than a depth defenseman. One assist later, he helped the Penguins put the game out of Philadelphia’s reach.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Goaltender Spotlight

Back in the crease tonight will be Tristan Jarry. On Tuesday, he saved forty shots on goal. The only player able to sneak a puck behind him was Farabee. Tonight, Elliott will go head-to-head in an attempt to get a win back.

Jarry looked phenomenal on Tuesday. Aside from the first goal from Farabee, he played about as well a team could ask of their goaltender. He would have only surrendered one goal if he could have cleanly gloved the puck in the third period. The Flyers were able to generate shots without any problem. Vigneault will increase the pressure in creating offense, especially converting scoring chances on the powerplay.

Flyers vs Penguins Prediction

This season, I have the utmost confidence in Vigneault rebounding his team after a loss, as long as Philadelphia is not facing the Bruins. Tonight, Pittsburgh opposes the Flyers. In theory, I think Philadelphia could figure out Jarry with Elliott holding down the fort. The Flyers need to play a smarter game because they did a great job defeating themselves on Tuesday.

Flyers 4, Penguins 3

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre

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