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Flyers vs. Penguins preview: Rolling on through the Metro

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Do we still like divisional games? Are we still excited?

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Flyers vs. Penguins 3.26.17
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

*taps microphone* He-hello? Is anyone still out there? Is anyone still reading these things, watching this team?

The Flyers have dropped their last seven games, four of which in either the shootout or overtime, in case you needed reminding. It’s been a lot of close hockey, with the Flyers losing five of these past seven by just one goal. They’ve kept in it, just couldn’t close. The performance hasn’t been atrocious, per se, but they’re looking to tighten it up, still.

The Penguins currently sit at sixth in the Metro, five points ahead of the Flyers. They’re rested, after their win over the Lightning on Saturday, but also figure to be without Evgeni Malkin, who is listed as day to day with an upper body injury.

There’s been shuffling galore happening in Flyers World, so let’s dive into a few of the key changes and moves.

1. Veteran reappearances and secondary scoring

One of the silver linings of Friday’s loss was the strong performances by veterans Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere. After a scoring drought and rough showing in Brooklyn, respectively, the two both notched goals over the evening at home, and looked to be getting back on track.

But the team still remains carried by its first line, as all other scoring came from members of the Ginger Line. Simmonds’ goal made for a bit of secondary scoring, and the rest of the bottom nine got some good looks over the course of the game, but just couldn’t capitalize. It seems, if nothing else, like a move in the right direction, if only they can keep moving in that direction.

2. AMac returns(?)

And a potential change to the lineup! After being out with a knee injury after blocking a shot at the end of the game against Edmonton last month, tonight looks promising for Andrew MacDonald to return to play. He practiced with the team yesterday, and Hakstol praised his performance, therein. Coach and teammates alike seem excited for his return, for the stability and veteran presence he brings. And say what you want about his performance to date; given a team that’s been so much in their heads of late, maybe just what they need is to think that they’re gaining back a key piece, in order to get things going again. Maybe.

3. RIP the Honey Bees

This isn’t the first game where we’ve seen the Flyers doing some shuffling of the fourth line, but now they’ve really taken that to another level. For some reason, they decided to meet one of the faster teams in the league with a fourth line of Lehtera, Laughton, and Weise.

Yeah, I don’t know, either.

But the narrative surrounding the team this weekend has been that of need for veterans to show up and work to both produce and stabilize the team. This move seems a gesture towards that—hoping that Weise and Lehtera can provide some sort of veteran stability to an admittedly somewhat volatile young team—even if it is at the expense of some speed.

The models over at Corsica favor the Penguins pretty distinctly in this one, giving the Flyers a high of 47.7 percent and average of 43.1 percent chance of winning.

You can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.

Forwards

Giroux - Couturier - Voracek

Martel - Patrick - Simmonds

Raffl - Filppula - Konecny

Lehtera - Laughton - Weise

Defensemen

Provorov - MacDonald

Gostisbehere - Hagg

Sanheim - Manning

Goalies

Elliott

(Neuvirth)