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Phase 3 Exhibition Game Preview: Flyers-Penguins

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(Photo: Brian Born/Philadelphia Flyers)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

After nearly five months of careful planning to make a return, hockey is finally back. There is a game on Tuesday, and even though it is only an exhibition, it will be great to have a live game back.

For the Flyers, this is not necessarily their only tune-up. The Round Robin will allow for them to get even more experience and work out some of the rust and flaws in their game leading up to the first round. This is, however, the only exhibition game that holds no meaning other than to just get back into the rhythm of a game.

And what a game this could be. The Flyers get a rivalry matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, quite the way to make their return to the ice.

Game time is 4 p.m.

Team Leaders (Regular Season Stats)

Philadelphia Flyers GP G A P Pittsburgh Penguins GP G A P
Travis Konecny 66 24 37 61 Evgeni Malkin 55 25 49 74
Sean Couturier 69 22 37 59 Bryan Rust 55 27 29 56
Jake Voracek 69 12 44 56 Sidney Crosby 41 16 31 47
Claude Giroux 69 21 32 53 Kris Letang 61 15 29 44
Kevin Hayes  69 23 18 41 Jake Guentzel 39 20 23 43
 
Player to Watch
54 Egor Zamula 59 Jake Guentzel
Last 5 Games: N/A Last 5 Games: N/A
 
We don't know all of the details of the Flyers lineup, but Alain Vigneault did announce that 20-year-old prospect defenseman Egor Zamula will be in the lineup. Zamula is just a few months removed from back surgery and has never played a game at the NHL level, so this will be a good test for him against top competition.
 
The pause allowed for many injured players to get some much needed recovery time, and it allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to get Jake Guentzel back into their lineup. Guentzel was sidelined on Dec. 30 with a shoulder injury that was expected to end his season, but the four-to-six month recovery time has since come and gone and he will be back on the ice. Guentzel gets his first game action in nearly eight months.
 
Projected Goalie Matchup (Regular Season Stats)
79 Carter Hart 30 Matt Murray
43 GP, 24-13-3, 2.42 GAA, .914 SV% 38 GP, 20-11-5, 2.87 GAA, .899 SV%

Vigneault also announced goalies for the exhibition and the net will be split for the game. Carter Hart is the starter and is expected to play the first two periods before Brian Elliott takes over for the third. Obviously, for both goalies, this is their first game action in months, but it is especially important for Hart, who missed a couple of days of practice late last week for precautionary reasons.

The Penguins are in a similar situation to the Flyers, looking to get both goalies some time in the only tuneup they will have before a five-game qualifying round series. Mike Sullivan said Matt Murray will start and play the first half of the game. Tristan Jarry will come in after that and finish the game.

Flyers Projected Lineup Notes

  • The Flyers are dressing 13 forwards and seven defensemen, the maximum at both positions for the game. The 13 forwards will be the most utilized rotation of top lines in practice. Expect Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek to be on a line and expect Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny to be on a line. The remaining forwards -- James van Riemsdyk, Derek Grant, Tyler Pitlick, Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson, Joel Farabee and Nicolas Aube-Kubel -- will likely be rotated as the team looks for the best combinations.
  • Defensively, the Flyers are going to have Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Friedman and Egor Zamula in the lineup. That leaves four other open spaces, which will most likely go to younger defensemen like Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Phil Myers and Robert Hagg. The two defensemen with the most veteran experience -- Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun -- could be the two scratches.
  • Projected Lines
    • Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Jake Voracek
    • Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny
    • James van Riemsdyk - Derek Grant - Tyler Pitlick
    • Joel Farabee - Nate Thompson - Nicolas Aube-Kubel/Michael Raffl
    • Ivan Provorov - Robert Hagg
    • Travis Sanheim - Phil Myers
    • Shayne Gostisbehere - Mark Friedman/Egor Zamula

Penguins Projected Lineup Notes

  • As of Tuesday morning's media availability, Sullivan had not decided if Sidney Crosby would play in Tuesday's exhibition, though he will go through the normal gameday routine. Crosby had been skating on his own, but missed multiple practice days. Crosby was a full participant in Monday's practice.
  • In their most recent practices, Evgeni Malkin was centering the top line with Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust. Evan Rodrigues was centering Guentzel and Conor Sheary. Jared McCann centered a line with Patrick Marleau and Patric Hornqvist and Teddy Bleuger centered a line with Zach Aston-Reese and Brandon Tanev.
  • While it is not known if Pittsburgh is dressing the addition forward or defenseman allowed, the Penguins Top-6 defensemen throughout Phase 3 have been Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, John Marino, Jack Johnson and Justin Schultz. Sullivan said that his lineup would be the regular group that has formed the lineup in practice in the last few days.
  • Projected Lines
    • Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin/Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
    • Jake Guentzel - Evan Rodrigues - Conor Sheary
    • Patrick Marleau - Jared McCann - Patric Hornqvist
    • Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Bleuger - Brandon Tanev
    • Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
    • Marcus Pettersson - John Marino
    • Jack Johnson - Justin Schultz

Game Notes (Regular Season Stats)

  • Power Play: Flyers (14th), Penguins (16th)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (11th), Penguins (10th)
  • Recent History vs. Penguins
    • Oct. 29, 2019 - Penguins 7, Flyers 1 (at PIT)
    • Jan. 21, 2020 - Flyers 3, Penguins 0 (at PHI)
    • Jan. 31, 2020 - Penguins 4, Flyers 3 (F/OT) (at PIT)
  • Flyers Leaders vs. Penguins
    • Claude Giroux - 51 GP, 16 G, 35 A, 51 P
    • Jake Voracek - 43 GP, 23 G, 20 A, 43 P
    • Sean Couturier - 37 GP, 6 G, 17 A, 23 P
    • Carter Hart - 3 GP, 1-1-0, 2.15 GAA, .936 SV%
    • Brian Elliott - 17 GP, 9-4-3, 3.03 GAA, .910 SV%

Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia+/NBCSN
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic/97.3 ESPN

YWT: The Philadelphia Flyers Podcast

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