Flyers vs. Penguins preview: The Battle of Pennsylvania renews

Bruce Bennett

The Flyers host the Penguins in another Battle of Pennsylvania on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

After tonight's game, the Flyers have six full days off. Six full days to mill over whatever outcome we see on the ice tonight, an outcome that will be dramatized, either positively or negatively, by the fact that it will come against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

You don't want to spend the next week miserable, do you? The Flyers don't either, and that's why it'd be really nice to get a win tonight in the first installment of this year's Battle of Pennsylvania.

Pens_blue_mediumFlyers_orange_medium
Pittsburgh Penguins (5-1-0, 10 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (1-6-0, 2 pts)
7 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: CSN Philly, Root Pittsburgh, NHL Net | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Pittsburgh perspective at Pensburgh

The Flyers will stick with basically the same lineup we've seen in the last two games, which were both solid, win-deserving performances (at least during five-on-five play). The only change we're expecting from Tuesday's lineup is the Jay Rosehill for Kris Newbury swap on the fourth line.

It's interesting, then, that the Penguins will insert noted face puncher Derek Deryk Engelland on their fourth line this evening. Engelland is typically a defenseman but has played forward from time to time in situations where they decide face punching is more important than skill, like tonight. Dustin Jeffery will sit in Engelland's place.

It's a dumb move when the Flyers do this stuff and it's equally as dumb when the Penguins do it, especially considering Rosehill is out tonight and Engelland will serve literally zero purpose. On the flip side, the Penguins are a much weaker team at forward than they have been in recent years -- not to say they're a weak team, just weaker -- and some have suggested that Engelland's insertion in the lineup is more an indication of Pittsburgh's ugly forward depth.

Just glance at their lineup. It lacks the typical flair we're used to seeing, especially with James Neal on the injured reserve due to an issue he may or may not have picked up playing wiffle ball. Former Flyer Harry Zolnierczyk was recalled from the AHL to take Neal's place on the roster, and we might expect him to do something stupid tonight. Kris Letang, Matt D'Agostini and Beau Bennett are also out of the lineup for Pittsburgh.

The Flyers will of course be without Vincent Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell again this evening, but we've seen solid progress at five-on-five in the last two games, and if the Flyers are able to put together the same kind of performance tonight, a win is certainly in the cards.

Steve Mason will get the start in goal. We expect the defensive pairings and the lines, save the Newbury-for-Rosehill swap, to remain the same as we saw on Tuesday vs. Vancouver. Marc-Andre Fleury is in goal for the Penguins.

It's the Battle of Pennsylvania, and these games always feel a bit different than any other. You're excited, Penguins fans are excited, and the teams are excited. Let's hope we feel the same way come 10 p.m. Our game thread will be up at 6 p.m, and you can catch the game on CSN locally and NHL Network nationally in the USA.

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