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Season Teeters, Gm23: Penguins Lines, Notes & What to Watch vs Flyers

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Pittsburgh Penguins Lines Philadelphia Flyers

The Pittsburgh Penguins (12-9-1) season is teetering as they face the Philadelphia Flyers (12-5-3) on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. As the East Division nears the halfway point, the Penguins are outside a playoff spot and the top four teams are beginning to pull away.

The Penguins squandered a three-goal lead on Thursday and lost 4-3 to the Flyers. The loss had consequences.

As PHN+ pointed out days ago, the three-game set against the Philadelphia Flyers could be a make-or-break moment for the Penguins season. A quick check of the standings confirms the scenario for the Penguins. If the Penguins win on Saturday, they pull within three points of Washington and the New York Islanders for a playoff spot (though New York plays Saturday, too). That’s the good news.

If they lose to Philadelphia, the Penguins will remain at least three points back, and trail Philadelphia by at least four points, and Philadelphia has two games in hand.

The Penguins have played two stinkers in the last three games, including Sunday’s shutout by the New York Islanders.

New York has points in six straight. Washington is a perennial power. So, too is Boston. If the Penguins win today, they stay in the thick of the division; lose and the uphill chase begins with only 33 games remaining.

The winning percentage necessary to make up more than four points in 33 games against good teams will be a HIGH, HIGH bar to reach.

Brian Dumoulin will return to the Penguins top pair. We detailed just how significant that is.

We expect Tristan Jarry and Carter Hart to face off again on Saturday. The Flyers gave Brian Elliott the spot start on Thursday, so Hart should be in the cage for Philadelphia. Hart has not been great, yet. He is 6-4-3 with an .893 save percentage and 3.49 GAA.

Jarry’s numbers slipped a bit in the Penguins loss on Thursday, down to an .899 save percentage and up to a 3.13 GAA>

What to Watch:

“The majority of games are won and lost at the net fronts, and you’ve got to do a good job at both ends of the rink in that regard,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’ve got to defend hard at our net, and we’ve got to try to get to the net front in the opponents end.”

Why does every quote scream for a crazy Viking at the net?

On Tuesday, the Penguins burned the Flyers forecheck like mom burns the biscuits every Thanksgiving, but on Thursday it all went wrong after the 3-0 lead. PHN asked Jake Guentzel and Marcus Petterson what happened. Both pointed to execution.

“I don’t think they changed a whole lot. Our execution changed. I think we counted eight to 10 scoring chances in the first game, where we started in our D-zone. We got the speed we wanted and created some tape-to-tape passes. That creates speed for us,” Pettersson said. “In the second game, we were a little slow. The passes weren’t really clean, on the tape. We weren’t predictable enough for each other, then we lose our speed. 

That allows them to play aggressive.”

I loved Pettersson’s answer. I wish more players gave detailed responses like that. The game on Saturday will hinge on the above.

(BTW–if anyone else provides more hockey insight than PHN, we’d like to know, so we can add more!)

So, Saturday is Flyers forecheck vs. Penguins breakout.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & Special Teams

LWCRW
Jake GuentzelEvan RodriguesKasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-ReeseTeddy BluegerBrock McGinn
Jason Zucker Drew O'ConnorDanton Heinen
Sam LaffertyBrian BoyleDominik Simon
LDRD
Brian DumoulinJohn Marino
Marcus PetterssonMark Friedman
Mike MathesonChad Ruhwedel

Philadelphia Flyers Lines

LWCRW
Claude Giroux Sean CouturierJakub Voracek
Joel FarabeeKevin HayesTravis Konecny
James Van RiemsdykNolan PatrickNicolas Aube-Kubel
Oskar Lindblom Scott Laughton Wade Allison
LDRD
Ivan ProvorovJustin Braun
Travis SanheimPhilippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere Robert Hagg
TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins16.7%, (2-12) 19h NHL90%, (1-9) 8th NHL
Dallas Stars10% (1-10) 25th NHL80%, (2-10) 12th NHL

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

*The Penguins are 4-5-1 when being outshot.

*P.O. Joseph and Drew O’Connor “re-assigned” to the WBS Penguins

*The Penguins have points in four of their last five home games against the Flyers (3-1-1) and are 8-3-1 over their last 12 home games vs. Philadelphia. 

*This is the Penguins’ second set of back-to-back games. They’re scheduled to have nine sets of back-to-back games in 2020-21.

*On Thursday, (per NHLPR) Mark Friedman became the 10th player since 2009-10 to score his first career goal against the team that drafted him.

*The Penguins’ .800 winning percentage at home (8-2-0) is sixth-best in the NHL.

*Kris Letang has nine points in his last seven games, inlcuding five goals.

*Six of the Penguins last nine goals have come from blueliners, and 12 of the Penguins 65 goals (18.5%) this year have come from their defensemen. Only the Montreal Canadiens (14/71, 19.7%), Florida Panthers (14/71, 19.7%) and Dallas Stars (9/48, 18.8%) have a higher percentage

How to Watch

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: 105.9 The X

Subscribe to PHN+

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Katz
Katz
7 months ago

According to the Philly announcer Elliott is getting the start?

RG_at_GBP
RG_at_GBP
7 months ago

Have I missed an update on Friedman’s condition?

Cal
Cal
7 months ago

Huge game and a must win. Someones gotta take the lead on this team today.

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