Game Preview: Flyers look to dominate shorthanded Penguins


Earlier, the Philadelphia Flyers opened at +125 underdogs on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then, Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin dropped out of the lineup due to COVID19. An already banged-up Penguins roster lost another top forward and defenseman. Tonight, the Flyers are playing a shell of a legitimate Pittsburgh lineup.

Without bias, the rest of the NHL has played a shell of a legitimate Philadelphia lineup. The Flyers were the most injured in the NHL at the beginning of the season. Alain Vigneault coached a makeshift lineup, chiefly on the defensive half, to a 5-2-1 record through eight games.

Both rivals have already played eight games. Tonight is the first time they’ll compete against each other this season. Currently, the Penguins are not blowing the roof off of any arena. They’re seventh in the Metropolitan Division, which isn’t necessarily as advertised. The points in the standings may not suggest it, but Pittsburgh seems a little more inspired than teams like the New Jersey Devils or Columbus Blue Jackets.

They’ll look to draw inspiration in this chapter of the intrastate Pennsylvania rivalry. Philadelphia was awful a season ago but was 5-3-0 head-to-head versus the Penguins.

Who will take the lead in the 2021-2022 claim of Pennsylvania hockey?

Flightless Birds

I understand the Pittsburgh Penguins were defeated most recently by the New Jersey Devils. Comparably, that game was similar to the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening night loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Pittsburgh was unlucky but kept the game close. Everything unraveled due to undisciplined hockey, which is the biggest culprit when teams lose winnable games. A deflection off Evan Rodrigues, a turnover resulting in a shorthanded goal surrendered, a penalty shot, and an empty-net score to cap off a series of unfortunate events summarized in two words: unlucky and undisciplined.

Tonight, Brian Dumoulin could be a costlier loss than Sidney Crosby. Crosby will be a critical loss on the powerplay, but Dumoulin affects five-on-five scenarios. Specifically, the Flyers have been a competitive even-strength team.

Kris Letang should make his way into the lineup tonight. He recently completed COVID19 protocol before being cleared for return. Still, Dumoulin joins Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel as inactive. Crosby only played in one game this season, which was the loss to the Devils.

Missing Tristian Jarry will not help the Penguins’ defense. He kept Pittsburgh in the game versus New Jersey but will miss tonight due to COVID19 protocol.

There’s still time to bet on Philadelphia (current +110.)

A Philadelphia Fly-By

It seems as if everything is going wrong for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are on a three-game losing streak. Last time out, the Philadelphia Flyers shut out the Arizona Coyotes, keeping them at the bottom of the barrel.

Ryan Ellis will remain out of the lineup, but Kevin Hayes is traveling with the team. Hayes, according to Alain Vigneault, is traveling as an extra shooter during goaltender warmups. Neither will dress for tonight’s game, but Hayes’ presence boosts the Flyers on the road.

Vigneault discussed the powerplay following the victory over the Coyotes. He liked the puck movement on the newly designed unit but emphasized the lack of finishing. Ivan Provorov protected the blue line magnificently. The inability to score against the league’s worst penalty kill left a bitter taste. Tonight, this updated powerplay will face the highest test against the league’s best penalty kill.

Kris Letang returning to the lineup helps stabilize the Penguins’ first penalty kill unit. When the second penalty kill unit takes the ice, Philadelphia must execute. There will be no sweeter time to convert a powerplay goal with a refreshed lineup. Mark Friedman resides on the second penalty kill unit ahead of Casey DeSmith.

DeSmith has never recorded a victory against the Flyers.


Other inactive players I didn’t mention for the Pittsburgh Penguins include Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. Those are two more impactful players who could flip this game on its ear. Without these players, it marvels me how the Philadelphia Flyers are the underdogs. Again, take the Flyers in your parlay for a payout.

Flyers win, 3-2.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre