Wade Allison makes his NHL debut as the Philadelphia Flyers battle the Pittsburgh Penguins for head-to-head, Pennsylvania bragging rights.
An effort like the one against the Washington Capitals is not allowed. Sitting in sixth within the Mass Mutual Eastern Division, the Philadelphia Flyers must compete with professionalism. Their performance in a 6-1 loss to the Capitals lacked heart. They rolled over when they’re still mathematically alive. Against the in-state rival, Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers need to find their grit.
Tonight, Wade Allison receives the nod from Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault as they continue to develop players. With a big offseason looming, Philadelphia must get a head start on which prospects can play in the NHL. Allison is the latest to make a debut, replacing Nicolas Aube-Kubel in the lineup. He’s the third Flyer to make an NHL debut this season.
Hopefully, the Flyers can power their way to a much-needed win against the Penguins. When a new player debuts, Philadelphia is 0-1-1 this season. With Carter Hart between the pipes, could Allison play a role in reversing the trend?
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Pittsburgh Penguins – Forward Spotlight
Currently, the Penguins are riding a three-game winning streak. The smallest margin of victory in that streak was two goals.
Pittsburgh is averaging a little over five goals per game in their current hot streak.
Colton Sceviour and Jake Guentzel have the hot stick. Those two players accounted for all five goals scored in the latest victory against the New Jersey Devils. Guentzel tallied a hat trick to cap off the win.
The last time these two rivals met, Evgeni Malkin scored and helped set up the game-winner. His fingerprints were all over a 4-3 victory in regulation. Malkin scored on the powerplay, a special team responsible for half of the goals that game. Jared McCann scored the game-winner in the third period.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Defensemen Spotlight
Through the last three games, the Penguins surrender just over two goals on average. The Devils scored four times in a 6-4 loss, but they may have exploited a theory on how to open up Pittsburgh’s defense. In doing so, every New Jersey goal took place during even-strength play. The Devils found success in crashing the crease, keeping a forward available to clean up rebounds. A dash of luck helped late in the third period too.
During this season, the Penguins surrender four goals on average versus the Flyers. Pittsburgh has an underrated defensive core featuring Kris Letang and John Marino on the right side. Their left side could be susceptible to a higher percentage of shots on goal.
Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson must contest a new lineup. Philadelphia has been dangerous on the left side of their powerplay, which tests the Penguins’ penalty kill.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Goaltender Spotlight
Tristan Jarry is the likely goaltender tonight for Pittsburgh.
He’s 2-2-0 versus the Flyers this season. Head-to-head with Hart, he’s 1-2-0. The matchup plays into Philadelphia’s favor.
During his last two performances against the Flyers, Jarry hasn’t played well. He’s just outlasted the Flyers goaltending. In both games, one win and one loss against Brian Elliott, Jarry saved around 87% of the shots he faced. He allowed 3.5 goals in those two recent performances. His success was a testament to how Philadelphia began to trend downward in March.
Flyers vs Penguins Prediction
Following giving up six or more goals, the Flyers are 5-0-2 when rebounding. The efficiency of gaining a positive point in the Eastern Division standings equals perfection. Vigneault and his players do not want to turn in another weak, unprofessional performance against the in-state rivals. If at all, Philadelphia must hang on to bragging rights in head-to-head competition. That means something.
Flyers 4, Penguins 3
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre