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Flyers look for first winning October since 2011 vs. Penguins

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It’s the first Flyers vs. Penguins matchup of the season folks, let’s get it.

Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

For the first time this season, the Flyers will take on their cross-state rivals in the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins got off to a surprising hot start, bolstered by a five game win streak that sent their record to 6-2-0. Since then, they’ve lost three out of their last four — although they did win their last game in a shutout vs. Dallas. Previous records go out the window when it’s a divisional matchup though, especially Flyers vs. Penguins.

Tonight the orange and black will look to do something they haven’t done since the 2011-12 season: post a winning October record. It’s been seven long seasons since this team has been able to accomplish that, and it would bode well for the confidence moving forward. We know all about the St. Louis Blues’ story last season, and what they overcame. But for a team in the Flyers who need a good start for once, this is a pretty huge game.

They’ll hope to do so after an embarrassing loss on Long Island. It was a rough go-around all night long and the Flyers have to be better, if they hope to pull of the win. Brian Elliott appears to be getting the nod, after Carter Hart struggled mightily vs. the Islanders. Even though it’s still October, this is a pretty important game for the Flyers in a four straight game divisional stretch, with another back-to-back looming.

No roster changes have been made, as the team will look to ride 12 healthy forwards for as long as they possibly can. One would assume Robert Hagg finds himself back in the lineup after Samuel Morin struggled on Sunday night. It should be interesting to see if he and Shayne Gostisbehere are spit up however, as the pairing has been a nightmare all season.

Players to watch for

Brian Elliott — It was certainly not ideal in the slightest to have Elliott come in relief of Hart on Sunday, but Alain Vigneault’s hand had been forced. Elliott starts a big game for the Flyers looking to get them further up the Metropolitan division standings. Elliott was sharp in relief, but his last start was a shaky outing vs. Columbus.

Shayne Gostisbehere — Plain and simple, Ghost needs to step up his game. The Flyers defenseman has been poor to begin the season — and although some of that is his partner — he needs to be held accountable. A big game from Gostisbehere would do wonders for not only his confidence, but the team as a whole. No better time to do it than vs. Pittsburgh, am I right?

Joel FarabeeIn his first taste of the Penguins vs. Flyers rivalry, it should be interesting to see how the young forward fares. He’s looked strong in the few games he’s gotten so far this season, but this will arguably be his biggest test so far. To steal a page from the Gostisbehere blurb, no better time for your first (second) NHL goal, Joel.

Two Big Questions

1. Will Gostisbehere rebound from a tough night on Long Island?

The entire season so far for Ghost has been a struggle, but Sunday night was particularly bad. At some point, he’s going to need to breakthrough if this team is going to reach their full potential. Even if he doesn’t dominate at 5-on-5, at least being a lethal force on the power play again is something he needs to be.

2. Can Brian Elliott do it again?

Elliott has been incredible to start the season, and another one of those performances would be huge tonight. It sucks seeing Carter Hart struggle, but if Moose can continue to play as he has been until Hart gets back on track, that would be quite beneficial for the short-term success of the team.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Forwards

JVR — Giroux — Voracek

Lindblom — Couturier — Konecny

Pitlick — Hayes — Farabee

Raffl — Vorobyev — Stewart

Defense

Provorov — Niskanen

Sanheim — Braun

Gostisbehere — Hagg

Goalie

Elliott

(Hart)