The Flyers (23-10-9), in first place in the Atlantic Division, face a Penguins (20-18-4) team that has fallen to fourth in the division and two spots out of a playoff berth with a dreadful 2-8-0 run in their last 10 games.
The Penguins apparently are grasping at straws, sending down a fourth-line role player, rookie Tim Wallace, who was told the team was looking for any kind of chemistry that could turn the team around. It is unlikely that particular move will bring what they are looking for.
Both teams are working with significant injuries. The Flyers center Danny Briere is now scheduled to play two games with the AHL Phantoms to test his wonky groin. But backup goalie Antero Niittymaki is expected to return to his spot opening the gate tonight. The Penguins, already struggling with the long-term injury to Sergei Gonchar’s shoulder, now have to deal with the loss of Ruslan Fedotenko, who’s vaunted skills as a pugilist leave him out 4-6 weeks with a broken right hand. Also, Pascal Dupuis continues to nurse an ankle injury and is not expected to play tonight.
The Penguins can be dangerous, with their superstar forwards, so the Flyers need to guard against taking this team too lightly due to their recent struggles. But the Flyer’s centers, who had been a bit cold toward the end of the Disney on Ice trip, are back firing on all cylinders. If the Flyers can avoid the first-period doldrums they so often suffer, they should be able to keep the Wachovia Center crowd happy and hold Crosby and Malkin at bay.