The Flyers had themselves a weekend by blasting Buffalo in consecutive 3-0 victories to go along with Thursday’s 4-3 victory over the Rangers. What looms ahead is a week in everyone’s favorite March destination, Pittsburgh, for a mini-playoff-natured three-game series.
For a full look at the week ahead, give the Pod Street Preview: March Madness Begins a read. Here are three storylines for Tuesday night’s game against the Penguins.
Flyers vs. Penguins: Three Storylines
A healthy team thickens the plot, where oh where does TK slot
What a difference a week makes. The Flyers were digging deep into its Taxi and AHL reserves to fill the bench in Tahoe. Tuesday against the Penguins, Philadelphia will have a full roster of NHL talent for the first time since mid-January.
Travis Konecny is the last man off the Covid Protocol list.
While this is certainly welcome news with TK’s feistiness and scoring ability, the Flyers are coming off two shutouts with several lines developing chemistry over the weekend. Additionally, Konecny struggled before being sidelined with eight points (5G, 3A) over 12 games. Three of which came in an early-season hat trick against…the Penguins.
Realistically, TK isn’t going to ride the bench long, even if he doesn’t take the ice tomorrow night. The kid was an All Star a year ago and has consistently notched 24 goals over the past three seasons.
So how does the lineup shakeout when he comes back in?
- The odd man out is likely Connor Bunnaman, who played the 4C role admirably over the past week.
- Does Laughton bump to 4C, Nolan Patrick move to 3C, and TK take the wing with Hayes and G?
- Is the Patrick-at-wing experiment ready to be done, and is he ready to go back to 3C?
- Does the coaching staff capitalize on the luxury of a healthy lineup and ease Konecny into the 4th line with Raffle and NAK? WHO TAKES FACEOFFS?
- Does AV blow the whole thing up?
Great problem for the coaching staff to have and one to watch for on Tuesday night.
Carter Hart, I wish I could quit you…
Any jitters that goalie Carter Hart had after a rough showing in Tahoe were quickly snuffed out on Sunday’s start in Buffalo.
Despite the solid outcome, the game’s start was a bit rocky, with Braun taking a delay of game penalty in the opening minutes. The Sabres PP, featuring a hobbled Jack Eichel, looked strong with a flurry of greats chances, but Hart stood his ground.
Carter, on behalf of the fanbase, please accept this apology for doubting you. NOW DO IT AGAIN!
This week’s four games in six days – and the whole month of March (17 games in 30 days) is the reason why GM Chuck Fletcher brought back a solid backup in Brian Elliott. Both he and Hart will get their starts – and both deserve them after shutouts – to help define this team’s trajectory starting tomorrow night.
It’s too damn hot for Penguins to be creeping around a playoff spot
Rivalry games can be the great equalizer despite the teams’ records. Splice in three consecutive games in a week, and this Flyers/Penguins series is going to be a powder keg.
The Flyers currently sit two points ahead of the Penguins for the fourth playoff spot – and have two games in-hand. A big week from either one of these teams is magnified x4 because of the head-to-head nature.
The other teams currently in playoff position – Washington, Boston, NYI – have to be hoping the Flyers mortar the Penguins and provide a much tougher path to the playoffs for Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and the team.
While this Penguins team is a shell of its glory days, those three players can make any game a toss-up.
One game, one shift, one play at a times… blah, blah, blah, hockey cliches.
The big picture view is this week could make the Penguins rebuild a reality for Hextall (ugh) before the trade deadline.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire