Flyers vs. Penguins preview: Fourth line gets bump with return of Sean Couturier

I've never been more intimidated in my life.

Boo Jagr, by all means. Boo Talbot as well. But for anyone going to the game tonight, you better be booing everyone wearing orange and black, not just those two. This is Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, not Jagr's a jagoff or Mad Max is a traitor. The Flyers are the real enemy and we have to make them fear coming into the CEC.

That's Bob Purkey, a commenter over at (ugly) sister blog Pensburgh. It's a really solid comment on knowing booing Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot because of the team they play for, not their Benedict-like traits that actually weren't Benedict-like at all. It's a really good comment... until that last sentence.

I've never been intimidated in Pittsburgh and I'm willing to put my life savings (it's not much, but whatever) on the line and say I never will be intimidated there. Pretty funny that you guys think you can be all big and bad, though.

The story of tonight's game between the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, the second meeting of the season between the two teams, is obviously the whole Jagr-and-Talbot-returning thing. But we know that whole storyline. Jagr will probably score a goal tonight, as will Talbot, it'll be really cool.

There's more to thus game than that, at least from our perspective. For starters, Sean Couturier will be back in the lineup, according to the Inquirer, and that's obviously wonderful news after he missed a few games following Kimmo Timonen's Skull Destructor 3000 hitting him in the back of the head.

The best news of all is that it really improves the fourth line. With Brayden Schenn in the lineup still, Zac Rinaldo and Jody Shelley will both sit as healthy scratches, and a fourth line of Couturier, Schenn and Harry Zolnierczyk is not bad at all. They might actually be able to inflict quite a bit of damage tonight if all goes well.

The rest of the lineup should stay the same. It doesn't seem like Erik Gustafsson is ready to get back into the mix just yet, still recovering from his wrist injury, so the defense will look the same as it did in Tampa Bay the other night. One other difference, though: Sergei Bobrovsky is in goal, and Ilya Bryzgalov will ride the pine tonight. Couple Bryz's awful play of late with Bob's success in Pittsburgh and it sort of seems like a no brainer.

A little more on the Penguins after the jump.

Pittsburgh has won four straight, and even though they're still without Kris Letang and some schmuck named Sidney Crosby, they're absolutely firing on all cylinders. They're tied with the Flyers in the standings, and whoever wins tonight's game will tie the Rangers for first place in the Atlantic -- albeit with an extra game played in the case of the Flyers, an extra two in the case of the Penguins.

The scoring has been absolutely deadly for the Pens of late, and they've scored 30 goals in the seven games since playing the Flyers in Philly on December 8.

Evgeni Malkin has been leading the charge along with linemates Chris Kunitz and James Neal, and the Flyers are absolutely going to have to shut them down tonight if they want to have a chance. Luckily, Malkin sometimes seems to lose his head a bit when he plays the Flyers, so perhaps they can use that edge to get to No. 71.

It'll be Marc-Andre Fleury in net for the Pens, who have a lineup that'll look like so, according to NHL.com:

Kunitz - Malkin - Neal
Dupuis - Staal - Kennedy
Sullivan - Vitale - Cooke
Williams - Adams - Asham

Orpik - Michalek
Despres - Niskanen
Lovejoy - Picard

The Penguins have yet to beat the Flyers in their new building. Let's not let that happen quite yet. Puck drop is a few minutes after 7 p.m. on CSN Philly, ROOT Sports in Pittsburgh or 94WIP. You'd probably rather dig a fork into your own eye than watch on ROOT Sports, though, and I'm not really exaggerating. Game thread at 6.

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