The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers will celebrate their respective 50th anniversary this season by altering the setting for their next installment of their bitter rivalry. The Keystone State representatives take the action outdoors as they will play under the lights at Heinz Field, the home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It’s a cool experience,” said forward Brayden Schenn, who scored his first career NHL goal in the Flyers’ 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park in 2012. “A lot of families are coming to town. We obviously know there are two points on the line, but it’s a whole difference experience, and it’s pretty cool for us as well.” The 25-year-old Schenn tallied in his third straight game in Wednesday’s 4-1 setback to Washington, marking the free-falling Flyers’ sixth loss in eight contests. Pittsburgh has kept the heat on the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals with a 7-1-3 mark since the All-Star break, with captain Sidney Crosby recording 11 points (five goals, six assists) in that span as well as tallying twice in the Penguins’ 5-4 victory in Philadelphia on Oct. 29.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, SN, TVAS2, NHL.TV
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Penguins as moderate -210 favorites and they have been bet up to -225. The totalhit the board at 5.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Flyers – C J. Weal (Questionable Saturday, Upper Body), RW J. Vracek (Questionable Saturday, Undisclosed).
Penguins – D J. Schultz (Questionable Saturday, concussion), D K. Letang (Questionable Saturday, Upper Body), C N. Bonino (Questionable Saturday, Illness).
WEATHER REPORT: It has been unseasonably warm in Pittsburgh the last couple of days, with temperatures hitting the 70’s, which could make for some tough sledding, but temperatures will return to around freezing for puck drop Saturday night. There will also be a 32 percent chance of snow showers during the game.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Pittsburgh maintains one of the most dangerous attacks offensively in the NHL. They continue to keep the pressure on first place Washington, but also have Columbus and now New York right in their rearview mirror. While Philadelphia is losers in three of its last four and are in some real danger of letting their season slip away.” – Covers Expert Brandon Shively.
ABOUT THE FLYERS (28-25-7, 26-25 O/U): Veteran Jakub Voracek hasn’t missed a game this season and that streak will continue on Saturday, as he has been confirmed to play despite aggravating a groin injury in practice. The 27-year-old, who tallied twice in the first encounter with the Penguins, nearly scored in his second straight game on Wednesday before an official review wiped out his apparent game-opening goal versus Washington. Fellow forward Jordan Weal believes he’ll be a game-time decision despite “feeling better every day” with an undisclosed injury while Michal Neuvirth is expected to make sixth straight start and ninth in 10 games on Saturday.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (37-14-8, 36-19 O/U): Ron Hainsey has yet to compete in a playoff contest during his 891-game NHL career, but the veteran stay-at-home defenseman likely is well on his way after being acquired from cellar-dwelling Carolina on Thursday morning. Hainsey’s presence is needed along the blue line for the ailing Penguins, as veteran Trevor Daley (knee) and Olli Maatta (hand) are nursing long-term injuries while Kris Letang (upper body) and Justin Schultz (concussion) are considered day-to-day. Coach Mike Sullivan doesn’t believe that the inclusion of the 35-year-old Hainsey into an injury-riddled lineup will cause too much of an adjustment. “It’s a little bit of a challenge, but I don’t think it’s anything that’s overwhelming for our team,” Sullivan said. “… When we add new players into the group, these guys will help them along the way. I don’t think it’s anything where we’re not capable of meeting that challenge.”
* Flyers are 3-12 in their last 15 road games.
* Penguins are 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Under is 6-1-2 in Flyers last nine overall.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Pittsburgh.
Check out the full list of hot and cold trends here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Check back later for complete consensus data.