-The big news of the day as it pertains to the Penguins is the apparent insertion of Deryk Engelland onto the right wing of the Penguins' fourth line. Robert Bortuzzo will re-assume his place on the third defensive pairing of the Penguins' third defensive pairing alongside Olli Maatta. The Penguins also moved fourth-line wingers Tanner Glass and Craig Adams to the third line on the flanks of Brandon Sutter. Dustin Jeffrey is the odd-man out as a result.
-Engelland is not a forward by any means. If he gets more than five minutes of ice time tonight, we'd be shocked. Tonight, he's essentially Steve MacIntyre. Considering the pugnacious nature of tonight's opponent, his addition to the lineup is understandable. But using him as a forward is just odd. We understand some of the injuries to forwards James Neal, Beau Bennett and Matt D'Agostini have left the Penguins a little thin up front, but this is hardly an ideal situation.
-That said, we do like seeing Robert Bortuzzo back in the lineup. He's a much better player than Engelland and you actually gain something in terms of toughness with Bortuzzo, the team's largest player at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, back in the lineup.
-Having Glass and Adams on the third line isn't ideal either, but they've played well as fourth liners this season. They have earned a promotion, even if its temporary.
-Frankly, the team's third line has been pretty quiet most of the season. Comprised of some combination of Jeffrey, Bennett, Brandon Sutter and a few others, it's probably been the team's worst line so far this young season. Perhaps Glass and Adams can provide a little energy to this unit.
-Assuming Engelland is in the lineup, we would expect to see a lot of double-shifting with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on that fourth line tonight.
-While we don't expect to see Engelland get many shifts, we're interested to see how he keeps up with his linemates, the great Joe Vitale and Harry Zolnierczyk, each of whom can skate well.
-The Penguins will face a desperate and motivated Flyers team. They're desperate because they're in last place in the division. And they'll be motivated because they're playing the Penguins. This is a dangerous game for the Penguins.
-Ever since he was anointed as "the best player in the world" by former coach Peter Laviolette in 2012, things have gone downhill for Claude Giroux. Since that hefty proclamation, he has scored 50 points (since the start of the 2012-13 season), a total which is 20th-best in the NHL. It's a nice total but for someone supposedly better than the likes of Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, it's sub par. This season, Giroux has all of two assists in seven games.
-We wonder how much he misses Jaromir Jagr. Giroux broke out when Jagr was on his line along with Scott Hartnell. Jagr departed in the 2012 offseason and things when up in smoke for Giroux. The Flyers just haven't been able to find a complimentary right winger to fit with Giroux.
-The Flyers' defense is old and slow. They have two nice offensive defensemen in Kimmo Timmonen and Mark Streit but they're each older than dirt at 38 and 35 respectively. They're younger blue liners like Luke Schenn (23), Niklas Grossman (28) and Braydon Coburn (28) aren't exactly great skaters. This is a poor blend of defensemen amassed by general manager Paul Holmgren.
-Interesting enough, the Flyers' goaltending hasn't really been the problem, at least as it pertains to tonight's expected starter Steve Mason who has been solid.
-Like the Penguins, the Flyers are dealing with some significant injuries up front. Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier, the team's major free agent signing this past summer, are sidelined.
-For all his troubles as head coach of the Flyers Laviolette always seemed to now what buttons to push against the Penguins. He would call one of his dreaded timeouts or he would utilized someone like Zac Rinaldo or Harry Zolnierczyk to get under the Penguins' skin. New coach Craig Berube was an assistant under Laviolette. We're interested to see if he will be able to push the right buttons against the Penguins as well.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Beau Bennett and Dustin Jeffrey.
-The Flyers' starters are Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Maxime Talbot, Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossman and Steve Mason.
-Their scratches are Hal Gill, Andrej Meszaros and Jay Rosehill.
19:30: Crosby touches the puck for the first time and is greeted by boos.
19:15: Niskanen strikes a rising slapper from the right point.
18:59: On a delayed penalty, Rob Scuderi flings a wrister from the center point on net. Mason eats it up. Giroux is sent off for hooking Malkin in the slot. Crosby, Kunitz, Jussi Jokinen, Malkin and Martin take the ice.
17:42: Jokinen has a chance just to the right of the cage but can't get a clean shot off. Mason smothers the puck.
17:31: Sutter lifts a heavy wrister from the slot. Mason fights it off.
17:15: The Giroux minor is killed with little threat from the Penguins.
16:18: A wrister by Wayne Simmonds from the Penguins' blue line is blocked out of play by Scuderi.
15:56: Timonen smacks a slap/pass from the right point which deflects wide.
14:51: Crosby pushes the puck up the slot and tries to split Grossman and Coburn but they fight him off the puck.
14:16: Orpik blocks a wrister from the right half wall. The puck takes a big carom to Erik Gustafsson at the right point. Gustafsson pumps a slapper on net which Fleury traps against his chest.
14:04: The Penguins get another power play. The great Joe Vitale hustles after a puck in the Flyers' right wing corner and whips it towards the blue pain. Zolnierczyk drives to the cage but is interfered with by former Penguin Adam Hall. That's two minutes for Hall. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
13:57: Off a sneaky cross-ice feed by Crosby, Malkin kneels down and whacks a one-timer from the right circle on net. Mason fights it off.
13:36: Off a feed from Crosby, Martin rips a wrister from above the right circle. Mason bodies it way.
13:20: Malkin snaps off a wrister from the right circle which is blocked by Grossman's left leg.
13:04: Off a feed by Martin, Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the left half wall. The puck misses the net and ends up cleaning the offensive zone.
12:04: Hall returns to the ice. The Penguins generated a few more nice chances there but the Flyers may have generated some momentum with two early successful penalty kills.
11:34: The great Joe Vitale trips up Brayden Schenn behind the Flyers' net. Not a great penalty for Vitale to take. Martin, Adams, Orpk and Dupuis take the ice.
10:34: Penguins killer Jakub Voracek drives in off the right wing and plays a puck to the blue paint. The Penguins are able to fend it off. Sutters clears the puck.
10:04: Timonen chips a puck in from the right wall on net. Orpik blocks it.
9:34: The Vitale minor is killed with minimal threat from the Penguins.
8:50: Matt Read whacks a loose puck in the slot at the cage. Bortuzzo blocks it.
7:12: Matta flings a wrister off the right half wall at the net. Mason fends it off.
6:46: Gustafsson corrals a loose puck on the right wall and lifts int on net. Fleury punches it away.
6:38: The Flyers are buzzing but Fleury comes up huge. Brayden Schenn flings a wrister from the right half wall. FLeury kicks it out. Michael Raffl is positioned above the blue paint and chops the rebound back on net. Fleury's right leg kicks it out.
5:29: Using Timonen as a screen, Crosby snaps off a wrister from above the right circle. Mason eats it up.
5:18: Read tries to deal a pass off the right wing to Talbot on the left. Maatta is positioned in the slot and jabs his stick at the pass to break it up. Good read.
5:13: Read tries to jam in a forehand shot form the right of the cage. Fleury holds it out.
5:05: Kunitz snaps off a pass from the right wing to Crosby on the left wing. Talbot backchecks and breaks it up with a stick. Nice play.
4:54: Off a rush from the left wing, Couturier plays a puck to the right circle for Talbot. Maatta reads it once again, steals the pass and banks it up ice off the glass for Dupuis in the neutral zone.
4:24: Timonen collects a loose puck at the left point and booms a one-timer which is blocked by Sutter.
4:04: HUGE play by Adams. After the Penguins fumble a puck behind their own net. Simmons has a wide open chance to the right of the cage. Before he can get a clean shot off, Adams pokes it off his stick and reaks it up. That was sure goal.
3:25: The Flyers nearly strike. Off the right wing, Giroux saucers a pass to Voracek wide open on the left wing. Voracek walks in with the puck on his forehand, flips to the forehand and attacks. Martin appears to break up the play before a clean shot can be released.
2:41: Working hard to control the puck along the Flyers' end boards, Engelland fights off Gustafsson, chips a puck to the right of the blue paint for Crosby. The puck bounces a little too much and Crosby can't get a handle on it.
2:13: Rinaldo knocks over Engelland in the neturla zone with a shoulder check.
0:59: Crosby works the puck into the Flyers' zone and is tripped up by Coburn at the blue line. That's two minutes for Coburn. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Flyers 0, Penguins 0.
-That wasn't exactly a stereotypical period of Penguins-Flyers hockey. It wasn't exceptionally physical and both teams seemed to play things tight. Almost like they were afraid to make a mistake. It was a very disciplined effort by both teams.
-The power play hasn't looked all that scary for the Penguins. They put a few decent shots on net but didn't really threaten the Flyers.
-Engelland didn't look all that out of place that period. He only had 2:10 of ice time on four shifts but he did generate one scoring chance.
-The Flyers played a tight defensive game that period. They really didn't allow too many quality scoring chance to the Penguins.
-Streit, the Flyers' other big offseason acquisition, was invisible that period.
-It would be a stretch to say either goaltender was tested a great deal.
-The Penguins have a 12-8 lead in shots on net.
-Attempted shots are tied, 20-20.
-Malkin and Raffl each lead the game with three shots.
-Martin leads the game with 9:52 of ice time.
-Timmonen leads the Flyers with 7:49.
-The Penguins have a 12-8 lead in faceoffs (60 percent).
-Sutter was 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Couturier was my 3 for 7 (43 percent).
-Grossman leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Martin and Orpik each lead the Penguins with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will have 59 of power-play time on fresh ice. Kunitz, Malkin, Crosby, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
19:01: The Coburn minor is killed with little threat from the Penguins once again.
18:22: Off a faceoff win by the great Joe Vitale in the left circle of the Flyers' zone, Maatta booms a one-timer from center point. Mason fights it off.
17:06: Off a feed by Crosby, Dupuis booms a heavy slapper from the right circle. Mason fights it off.
16:24: Martin pops a slapper from the right point. Mason makes the easy save and steers the puck to the right corner.
15:40: Zolnierczyk, on a line with Malkin and Engelland (???), wheels around the Flyers' cage and deals a pass to Niskanen at the right point. Niskanen cranks a one-timer on net. Mason fights it off. Engelland has two chance at the rebound but is denied twice by Mason. Some tough saves by Mason.
13:57: Zolnericzyk snaps off a wrister from the left circle wide on the near side.
12:36: Pinching in on the right wing, Bortuzzo gets a little revenge on Rinaldo, the man who concussed him a few years ago, and slams him to the ice with a big body check. Kris Newbury jumps Bortuzzo and the drop the gloves. Newbury has an early advantage but Bortuzzo eventually regains himself and takes advantage of his size. He lands a few big rights and Newbury eventually falls to the ice. Rinaldo hit Rinaldo with a high hit in 2011 which caused a concussion:
-That hit and the win in the fight had to feel satisfying.
-If you recall, Newbury was knocked out by former Penguins forward Ronald Petrovicky in a scary fight in 2007:
11:15: With Bortuzzo in the penalty box, Maatta is taking a shift with Scuderi.
10:32: Niskanen booms a slapper from the right point which hits body in front.
10:17: Malkin makes three nice plays to keep the puck inside the Flyers' blue line and deals to Jokinen on the right wing. With an acre of ice to work with in the right circle, Jokinen grips and rips a wrister to the far side by the blocker of Mason. What an effort by Malkin to create that chance. He gets the only assist. He could make a case for two. Penguins 1-0.
9:29: Rinaldo lifts a wrister from the right circle on net. Fleury fight sit off.
9:15: Off a feed from the left wing, Coburn snaps off a quick wrister from the slot. Fleury traps it under his legs.
8:42: Sutter has a chance in tight but Mason fights it off.
8:01: Off a fed by Crosby, Niskanen crnks a pedestrian slapper from the right point. Mason says no. Niskanena nd Crosby get assists.
7:52: Scuderi loads up snaps off a slapper from the right half wall. Mason fends it off.
7:47: The Penguins keep hounding the Flyers in their own zone and double the lead. Crosby deals a pass to Niskanen at the right point. Niskanen whacks a slapper which hits off a body or two. Kunitz is able to bang in the rebound to the right of the cage for an easy goal. The Flyers looked gassed that shift. Crosby and Niskanen get assists. Penguins 2-0.
6:57: The Flyers revert to their roots as Luke Schenn is called for cross checking Chukc Kobasew in the slot. Kobasew appears to go down with little resistance. Niskanen, Martin, Malkin, Crosby and Kunitz take the ice.
6:37: Niskanen chops a slapper fro the right half wall. Mason kicks it away.
5:16: Off some strong puck movement, Martin whacks a one-timer from the slot. Mason kicks it out of play.
4:57: The Schenn minor expires. The Penguins peppered Mason with shots .
4:40: Maatta tees up a slapper from the right point. It sails through traffic and hits a post. So close to his first goal.
2:12: The great Joe Vitale smacks Gustafsson with a nice shoulder check behind the Flyers' net.
1:45: Malkin is skating with Dupuis and Crosby.
1:22: Coburn flings a wrister from the right point wide on the near side.
0:59: You don't see this too often. FLeury tries to play a puck behind his cage but loses it to his friend Talbot. As Talbot tries to chase the puck, Fleury sort of pins him against the boards. That's two minutes for interference against Fleury. Jokinen will serve the minor. Adams, Scuderi, Sutter and Martin take the ice.
0:30: Giroux snaps off a wrister from the right half wall. FLeury fights it off.
0:02: The Flyers cash in late. Giroux controls the puck in the right cirlce and just flings a wrister at the cage. Simmonds positions his stick between his legs and re-directs the shot over the glove hand of Fleury on the far side. What a great play by Simmonds. The Flyers needed that badly, especially at the end of the period. Girou and Brayden Schenn get assists. Penguins 2-1.
-The Flyers are actually using Fallout Boy's "Light 'em Up" as a goal song tonight. They've been rotating most of the season.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Flyers 1.
-The Penguins slowly took that period over and probably could have a larger lead. A strong effort by Mason and a late goal by Simmonds have kept the Penguins in this game.
-Mason was really strong that period. The Penguins peppered him with a ton of shots and he turned away most of them. His teammates owe him a beer.
-The Niskanen-Scuderi defensive pairing was really strong. Scuderi continues to maintain his presence defensively while Niskanen looks really confident with his shot. They read off each other very well.
-For all his smooth puck handling skills, Jokinen's shot is really underrated.
-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 29-13.
-The Penguins have a lead in attempted shots, 52-36.
-Malkin leads the game with four shots.
-Raffl and Gustafsson each lead the Flyers with three shots.
-Martin leads the game with 18:04 of ice time.
-Grossman leads the Flyers with 14:38.
-The Flyers have a 23-21 edge in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Sutter is 8 for 11 (73 percent).
-Giroux is 9 for 14 (64 percent).
-Grossman leads the game with five blocked shots.
-Martin leads the Penguins with three blocked shots.
-Timonen will not return to the game due to a groin injury.
-There was a scoring change on the Penguins' second goal by Kunitz. Dupuis and Niskanen get assists.
-Jersey of the Night: A reader spotted a Rick Tocchet jersey in Philadelphia:
19:45: The Flyers get an early power play as Orpik hooks up Talbot in the Penguins' right circle. That's two minutes. Martin, Scuder, Crosby and Adams take the ice.
18:39: The Flyers nearly tie the game. Streit drives a shot/pass from the right point. It ends up on the stick of Simmonds above the blue paint. Simmonds spins in a tight space and tries to lift a wrister. Fleury sticks with the play and is able to glove the shot while stretching out to his left. What a save.
17:45: The Orpik minor is killed. The Flyers had the one strong chance by Simmonds but generated little else with that chance.
16:37: On a delayed penalty Streit booms a slapper from the right point. It gets blocked. Niskanen is sent off for roughing Brayden Schenn in the right wing corner. Niskanen punched him in the head while battling for the puck. Not a disciplined play by Niskanen. Adams, Martin, Orpik and Crosby take the ice.
15:54: Giroux has one-timer teed up on the right circle but fans on the shot.
15:14: Off a feed by Streit, Voracek cranks a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury fights it off. Brayden Schenn has a chance at the rebound in the slot with a wide open net but jabs the shot over the cage. A replay shows the shot by Schenn glancing off the shaft of Fleury's stick. Oof.
14:37: The Nisaknen minor expires. THe Flyers bombarded the Penguins' net with that chance.
14:06: With the Flyers dominating possession in the Penguins' zone, Gustafsson has a wrister from the right point blocked. Glass dives and poke checks the puck down ice for a big clear which allows his team a change.
13:42: Off a feed by Malkin Kobasew flings a backhander from the left wing. Mason fights it off.
13:23: Off a faceoff win in the Flyers' right circle by Malkin, Jokinen has a chance in the slot. Mason is able to make a big glove save.
12:46: With an icing call, the Penguins call a timeout to get a breather.
12:38: Raffl spins Jokinen to the ice with a big shoulder check in the Penguins' right circle.
11:13: off a feed by Crosby, Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Grossman gets a piece of the shot and deflects it out of play.
10:55: Streit tees up a slapper from the right point. Fleury calmly punches it away.
10:43: Vitale snaps off a pass from the right half wall to Zolnierczyk streaking up the right wing. Zolnierczyk snaps off a wrister high over the cage. Ouch. He could have iced this game with a goal there.
9:53: Voracek snaps off a wrister from the right wing. Fleury punches it away. Raffl has a chance at the rebound but can't get a clean handle on it.
6:20: After a few stagnant minutes of play, Zolnierczyk races after a puck on the right wing of the Flyers' zone and whacks it on net. Mason punches it away.
5:27: Grossman whacks a slapper from the right point. Glass leans down and blocks it.
4:47: Couturier has a chance in tight but can't punch it behind a sprawling Fleury.
3:38: Raffle booms a slapper from the right wing wide on the near side.
3:02: Voracek tries to body Sutter off the puck int he right corner of the Penguins' zone. Sutter simply throws him to the ice.
2:32: The Penguins get aggressive on their forecheck and ice the game. Crosby is in deep on the right wing corner of the Flyers' zone and along with Kunitz, he pressures Coburn into a turnover. Crosby lifts his stick and slides a pass to the slot. Dupuis fakes a slapper, gets Mason to challenge above the blue paint, pulls down his stick and slides a pass to Crosby just to the right of the cage. Crosby calmly taps the puck into the open cage. Dupuis gets the only assist. Kunitz could claim on. Penguins 3-2.
1:38: Mason is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:58: Read deals a pass from the left point down low to Simmonds to the left of the cage. Simmonds re-directs the puck wide of the cage.
0:56: The Flyers call timeout to get organized.
0:12: Taking a pass from Adams in the neutral zone, Malkin fights off a check from Read and aimails a wrister from outside the Flyers' blue line into the open cage for one of us:
-Adams and Crosby get assists. Penguins 4-1.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Flyers 1.
-Regardless of the circumstances, a win against the Flyers is always big. Here's the proof:
-The Penguins dug the hole a little deeper for their rivals and opened up a 10-point lead on them in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.
-This game was actually a lot closer than the score would indicate. The Penguins had to withstand a pretty strong push by the Flyers early in the third period. Philadelphia had two early power plays. Some strong goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury held them at bay and allowed the Penguins to ice the game late.
-Some of the Penguins' offensive exploits will get a lot of attention, and justly so, but Fleury had as much to do with this win as anyone else. The Flyers generated several quality scoring chances as the game after going down 2-0. Fleury stole a few goals, got a little lucky with a strong chance by Brayden Schenn, and proved some stability for his team when the Flyers were dominating puck possession.
-His counterpart, Steve Mason, was really strong too. If not for him, this was a much more lopsided game. The Penguins put their fair share of strong chances on net and Mason calmly made saves and didn't allow many poor rebounds. He deserved a better fate.
-What more do you say about Sidney Crosby? A two-point night seems mundane for him. In seven games, he has 14 points, an average of two points per game.
-The chemistry between Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz is at another level right now.
-Evgeni Malkin had an outstanding game. In addition to his points, he had a strong effort defensively.
-Tanner Glass stepped up in a third line role. He threw a ton of hits and made several key plays defensively in his own zone. His level at play this season compared to last is up considerably.
-If he stays healthy, Jokinen is a 30-goal scorer on this team.
-Deryk Engelland was surprisingly effective in a limited role on the fourth line. Ideally, he's never in that position again, but he made the most out of a bad situation. He had 7:23 of ice time on 11 shifts and recorded one shot.
-Matt Niskanen continues to step up in the absence of Kris Letang. He continues to look very confident.
-Playing with Rob Scuderi will make a lot of defensemen confident. He's a good partner for Niskanen.
-Olli Maatta came through with another strong effort. He had done everything to justify keeping him at this level past that nine-game "tryout" threshold as a junior eligible player. If it were up to us, we'd send him back to London of the OHL simply because there's a difference between looking good through seven games versus looking good through 70 games for a 19-year-old defenseman. Also, with Niskanen, Engelland and Brooks Orpik scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, it would be nice to hang on to the first year of that entry-level contract.
-Special teams weren't outstanding for the Penguins. They went 0 for 4 on the power play and allowed on goal to the Flyers' power play on four chances. The penalty kill had a few key kills at the start of the third period.
-The Flyers actually played a pretty strong disciplined game. They just made a few mistakes at key times and paid the price. They will be off for six days. Hopefully for their sake, they use it to get more acclimated to head coach Craig Berube and rest some bumps and bruises.
-The Flyers' blue line was really slow and sloppy. And losing Kimmo Timonen in the second period didn't help.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 35-25.
-The Flyers had a 63-61 edge in attempted shots.
-Niskanen led the game in shots with six.
-Thomas Raffl led the Flyers with five shots.
-Martin led the game with 27:30 of ice time.
-Giroux led the Flyers with 22:18.
-The Flyers controlled faceoffs, 39-28 (58 percent).
-Sean Couturier was 13 for 21 (62 percent).
-Brandon Sutter was 9 for 14 (64 percent).
-Scuderi and Nicklas Grossman each led the game with five blocked shots.
-Dupuis (220 points) passed up Aleksey Morozov (219) for 34th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.