After two full days off, the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins will return to the ice in South Philadelphia for Game 4 of their First Round series. Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 series lead after a 5-1 drubbing in Game 3. Travis Sanheim scored the lone goal for the Flyers, his first ever goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
WATCH / LISTEN / FACE-OFF
TV: NBCSP, NBCSN CBC (Canada)
RADIO: 97.5 The Fanatic
PUCK DROP: 7:00 P.M.
LINE COMBINATIONS (Courtesy of Daily Faceoff)
Philadelphia: (Flyers Line Combinations)
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol did some tinkering with his lines towards the end of Game 3, and that carried over to yesterday’s practice where he rolled out new forward lines. Oskar Lindblom saw his minutes diminish in Game 3, and he has been scratched for Game 4. Jordan Weal will replace the Swede. Hakstol reunited Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek on the 1st line, while moving Michael Raffl down to the 3rd line. Travis Konecny was also brought up to the 2nd line with Nolan Patrick and Wayne Simmonds. Sean Couturier’s status is still up in the air, as the Flyers have yet to release an update on his situation. For now, we’ll call him a game time decision.
Giroux – Couturier – Voracek
Konecny – Patrick – Simmonds
Weal – Filppula – Raffl
Laughton – Lehtera – Read
Provorov – Gostisbehere
Sanheim – MacDonald
Manning – Gudas
Pittsburgh: (Penguins Line Combinations)
The Penguins will be without Patric Hornqvist this evening, as he will miss out with an upper body injury. During Pittsburgh’s optional practice yesterday; Kris Letang was also missing, but he took a maintenance day and will be in the lineup tonight. Dominik Simon has been called upon to replace Hornqvist, and he’ll slot into that first line alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.
Guentzel – Crosby – Simon
Hagelin – Malkin – Kessel
Sheary – Brassard – Rust
Aston-Reese – Sheahan – Kuhnhackl
Dumolin – Letang
Maata – Schultz
Oleksiak – Ruhwedel
THREE STORYLINES TO WATCH
Obviously, the big storyline from the Flyers perspective is the status of Sean Couturier. We’ve all seen the video of the injury by now, and it’s extremely unfortunate that a flukey accident occurred during the most important time of the season. Philadelphia held an optional skate this morning, and #14 was not on the ice. Although, he wasn’t the only player missing. I’d expect Couturier to attempt to play unless something is severely injured or broken. On a positive note, after he left practice yesterday Nolan Patrick was taking Couturier’s reps with the 1st line.
If the Flyers want to get back in this series, they need their big guns to step up in a big way starting now. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds have a point a piece, and Jakub Voracek is barely doing better with 2 points. The team’s leading point getter is Couturier, who might not play in Game 4. When you look at the team across from the Flyers, think about how Crosby took over Game 1 and how Malkin contributed with big games in both Games 1 and 3. It’s time for the Flyers big guns to step up to the plate and take control.
It’s going to take an entire team effort for the Flyers to claw back into this series and force it into a best of 3. For the most part, the young bucks have been the one’s carrying the bulk of this team’s play. Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick have certainly looked up to the task of the playoffs, Ivan Provorov continues to amaze at only 21 years old. Travis Sanheim hasn’t looked out of place at all since his return to team, it’s the veterans holding this team back. From the coach down to the 4th line, everyone needs to up their game and play with added energy. They can’t hang their heads if they go down 2 goals, we’ve seen what happens when they do this series and it’s not pretty. Have some pride for the crest on the front of your jersey, it’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs for crying out loud. What more motivation could one need?