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Flyers vs. Penguins preview: Special teams, as always, the key to beating Pittsburgh

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The Flyers are a good special teams club, which is good, considering games between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh so often come down to special teams.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

It's hard to be confident about the Philadelphia Flyers after last night's embarrassment in Chicago, but then again ... well, it's hard as a Flyers fan to take the Pittsburgh Penguins seriously at this point too.

Sure, they might be the best team in the Metropolitan Division. But the Flyers have gone 13-7-0 against the Pens including playoffs in the last three seasons, and as we all know, the Flyers are pretty clearly in Pittsburgh's heads no matter where each team might sit in the standings.

The Pens are an improved team this year, and they obviously can be dangerous offensively. But Pittsburgh is also prone to fly off the handle in games against the Flyers, giving that potent Philadelphia power play plenty of chances to cash in. The Flyers have 28 power play goals in 21 games against Pittsburgh dating back to the beginning of the 2011-12 regular season, and these teams have combined for 735 penalty minutes in those games. The Flyers have taken a slight majority of the penalty minutes but have allowed "just" 19 power play goals.

To make a long story short, the Flyers are a very skilled special teams club. These games against Pittsburgh often come down to special teams.

That might change tonight. It could change on any given night. And as we saw in Chicago, the Flyers just aren't very good at even strength, especially against elite level teams like Pittsburgh. But if the Flyers can follow the script that's allowed them success against the Penguins in the recent past -- effectively shutting down, or at least limiting, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin while capitalizing on special teams opportunities -- then they should come away with their second victory of the season tonight.

If the game is played primarily at even strength, the Flyers stand to lose. So hope for typical Battle of Pennsylvania antics, or at least a high scoring mess of a game, tonight at Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins will be wearing their retro black-and-"Pittsburgh gold" uniforms tonight. Of course, "Pittsburgh gold" is just "yellow" to the rest of the world, but they're a little block-headed out there.

As far as lineups, no word on if there will be any changes for Philadelphia since they held a very optional morning skate this AM. We'd assume Ray Emery will be starting in goal considering Steve Mason's bad night less than 25 hours ago, but who knows. Also no word on Braydon Coburn, who took warmups in Chicago but didn't play. He would be a big help.

Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins

8 p.m. ET | 5 p.m. PT
Consol Energy Center | Pittsburgh, Pa.

Watch: NBCSN, NBCSports.com
In Canada: Sportsnet 360, TVA 2 (French)
Listen on 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Pittsburgh perspective at PensBurgh