The Flyers lineup could get an unexpected boost tonight when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight for the third game of this year's four-game season series. Wait, there's no chance Matt Read's actually going to play tonight, is there?!
Pittsburgh Penguins (15-8-0, 30) at Philadelphia Flyers (11-12-1, 23)
7 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: CSN Philly, NHL Network, Root Sports | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Pittsburgh perspective at Pensburgh
Everybody's been quiet about the lineup so we truly won't know for sure until warmups, but on-ice indications at this morning's skate say that Read and Nicklas Grossmann could be in tonight against the Pens. Grossmann's listed at day-to-day after suffering a minor leg injury on Tuesday against the Rangers, so it's not all that surprising that he could play.
But Read's return would be an utter shock. On February 21, he was declared out for six weeks with muscle tears in his rib cage. He wasn't expected back until early April -- and uh, it's early March right now. When he exited the lineup, Read was the Flyers leading scorer. He says he still has pain when he shoots, so we probably shouldn't expect him to shoot much if he does get back, and that'll obviously impact his production. But if he can't injure himself further by playing, he's still likely better than some of the alternatives and it'd be nice to see him back on the ice.
If Read does play, it'll be interesting to see what Peter Laviolette does with the lineup. Does he mess with a top six that's been performing pretty well, or does he throw Read up there? Does he just slot in Read on that vacant fourth line hole, allowing him to ease back into the lineup? Regardless, if Read's in, it's almost certain that Mike Knuble sits.
Back to the defense: Grossmann and defensive partner Braydon Coburn typically play almost all the tough minutes against Evgeni Malkin and the Pens' top line, so if he's out tonight that'll be a real burden on Laviolette and the coaching staff. The Pens are a tough team to matchup with regardless, but when you're missing a top-four defenseman that eats big minutes, it's even tougher. Let's hope and pray that Grossmann plays. It's Kurtis Foster otherwise.
The power play was really solid against the Rangers on Tuesday night, scoring two goals, and given how skilled the Flyers are at getting under Pittsburgh's thin skin, that'll be important tonight. Luckily, the addition of Simon Gagne has improved the second unit to the point where the Flyers look downright dangerous on the PP every single time they hit the ice. The Penguins PK is converting at just 80 percent, good for 18th in the league, so let's score lots of power play goals tonight and then throw a big party after the game.
(Oh, by the way... Pittsburgh's PP is good too, so stay out of the box please.)
Questions to Answer
- Sidney Crosby's really good, been on fire lately. Can the Flyers stop him blahblah blahblah NBCSportsPierreMcGuire rabblerabbleblah?
- Can the Flyers win the special teams battle?
- Line changes were bad on Tuesday. Improvement?
- Ilya Bryzgalov did not have his best game against the Rangers. Bounce back?
- Jake Scoracek, all the points, etc. Yes?