Just a few nights after facing the second highest scoring team in the NHL, the Penguins will face the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, the NHL’s highest scoring team, averaging 3.52 goals per game.
For the Penguins, they will go into the matchup with an inexperienced blueline and without several regulars.
Of note, Deryk Engelland remains out with a lower body injury, while Zbynek Michalek is not ready to return to the lineup. Both did not practice on Wednesday and the Penguins expected to go into tomorrow’s game with their current top-6 of Brooks Orpik-Matt Niskanen, Simon Despres-Paul Martin and Alexandre Picard-Robert Bortuzzo.
Head coach Dan Bylsma called Engelland day to day. He did not sound optimistic that Engelland will be available to play. Engelland last skated on Saturday night.
Kris Letang is on injured reserve due to a concussion. Letang though was around the facility today, for what it’s worth.
The Penguins will continue to rely heavily on Paul Martin who’s averaging 28:35 of ice time, in his last three games. Martin who has improved his play of late, logged 29:43 of ice time in Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Bruins.
The Penguins will be getting a Flyers team in back to back situations as Philadelphia faces the Sabres in Buffalo tonight.
Flyers thrilled with play of Talbot, Jagr so far
There’s a ton of story lines for tomorrow night’s game and two of them are Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr.
We all know how the Jagr situation played out but the buzz inside the Penguins locker room this week has been that the players didn’t really believe he was going to sign here like maybe some of the fans and even ownership thought at one point.
Jagr has been everything the Flyers could have hoped for. He’s been an excellent teammate bringing a strong work ethic off the ice to the team, almost always among one of the first players in the weight room but most importantly he’s been a factor on the ice.
Jagr who has returned to the lineup from a sore groin that caused him to miss four games, is averaging a point per game with 21 points in 21 games, including 8 goals and 4 power play tallies.
Meanwhile, looking to change the culture of their locker room, Flyers GM Paul HolmgrenÂ might haveÂ overpaid for Max Talbot but everyone connected to the Flyers is singing Talbot’s praises for what he’s brought to the table on and off the ice.
Talbot who has quickly emerged as a leader with the Flyers, is on pace for a career year with 6 goals and 12 points thus far on the season. His career high in goals is 12 when he scored 12 goals in back to back seasons in 2007-2008, 2008-2009. This is the best offensive hockey Talbot is playing since undergoing shoulder surgery following the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup run where he scored 8 playoff goals.
While Tablot leaving the Penguins this past off-season wasn’t a surprise to anyone on the team, Talbot signing with Philadelphia was a big surprise.
4th Liners outscoring Crosby, Staal, Malkin & Neal in last 3 games
The Penguins are 2-1 in their last three games, despite getting little to nothing offensively from their four best offensive players; Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Jordan Staal.
In the Penguins last three games, Craig Adams (2G-1A), Arron Asham (1G-1A), Joe Vitale (1A), and Richard Park (1 Assist) have combined for 7 points, while Crosby (1 Assist), Malkin (1 Assist), Staal (0 Pts) and Neal (0 Pts) have combined for just 2 points.
Power Play Work
The Penguins to no surprise spent a lot of time working on the power play today. The team is 0-for-9 in their last three games, highlighted by Monday’s 5-on-3 opportunities against Boston where the Penguins had no cohesion or movement.
I still see Tyler Kennedy as a player who deserves a look in place of Steve Sullivan in 5-on-3 situations down low on the left side.
The team is 1-for-16 in their last five games. The Penguins are looking for moreÂ movement but the coaching staff appears to be struggling to find the right spot for the likes of Sidney Crosby.
Something that’s been an issue for years due to Crosby and Malkin being left handed shots.