Flyers

Flyers

Updated: Saturday, 11 a.m.

Patric Hornqvist provided the perfect summation.

The Penguins' forward knows well about the level Flyers fans can reach at the Wells Fargo Center with nearly 20,000 people in the seats. Add on possibly 50,000 more in a football stadium and Hornqvist smiled when picturing the scene.

"A chance to play in front of a lot fans, against a really good team, a good rivalry," Hornqvist said. "It's going to be a hell of a night."

It should indeed, weather permitting.

The Flyers and Penguins hit the ice for practice Friday at Lincoln Financial Field to soak in the elements ahead of Saturday's 2019 Stadium Series (8 p.m./NBC).

The game is not just another game because it's truly an event.

Let's go behind the uniqueness of the whole thing with sights and sounds from Friday as we gear up for Saturday's outdoor madness under the lights.

Play like a champion

The Flyers are enjoying the comfy and spacious locker room of the Eagles.

They also have some shiny motivation.

That, of course, is the Eagles' Super Bowl LII championship trophy.

To salute the Birds, goalie Carter Hart went with an Eagles-themed mask (see story).

 


He also had the chance to meet defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

"That was cool, just to see him there," Hart said. "Yeah, he's huge.

"I got a Fletcher Cox jersey signed to me and I got him a signed Hart jersey, too."

'You probably expect some fireworks'

A few notable quotes from Flyers leaders Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds:

Giroux has a fun relationship with Flyers fans. As the current longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia, he knows how passionate they are and fully understands their tough love.

For Simmonds, a pending unrestricted free agent, Saturday could be his last game as a Flyer with the NHL trade deadline on Monday and his situation up in the air (see story).

I'm going to be thinking about winning the game, not if it's my last game or not with the Flyers.

Simmonds also loves the Flyers-Penguins rivalry, which he's been a part of since 2011.

Whether it's beginning of the season, end of the season, any time we play Pittsburgh, you probably expect some fireworks.

Enemy territory

Evgeni Malkin created a stir among Flyers fans when he dangerously swung his stick at Michael Raffl during the Penguins' 4-1 win Feb. 11 at the Wells Fargo Center.

He then took another swing at the Flyers three days later (see story).

Malkin was unavailable to the media Friday. The Penguins practiced at 4 p.m. and afterward Malkin was in and out of the visiting dressing area before media members were allowed access to the locker room.

You can expect a warm welcome from fans Saturday night.

 

He may actually garner heavier boos than Sidney Crosby, who has tortured the Flyers over his career with 97 points (40 goals, 57 assists) in 65 regular-season games.

Crosby appreciates the rivalry, which now includes two outdoor games.

"It's hard to think you can add to it, but if you could, this would be a way to do it," Crosby said.

Beware of the conditions

The forecast is calling for rain but, for now, the NHL believes it can play the game as scheduled (see story).

"If it starts to rain pretty hard, as far as wearing a visor, your vision, ice conditions, all that kind of stuff — that can come into play," Crosby said. "To what extent it's going to rain, if it's light, it's not too bad, but if it starts to pour pretty good, that could be a different story."


Overall, playing outside presents different challenges.

Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon offered a glimpse into those challenges:

I was talking to [Ivan Provorov], he was talking about [2016-17], when they played [at Heinz Field], he said he couldn't shoot the puck. With this portable ice, the puck has a tendency to move away from you — it'll hit your stick and it just kind of slides. It's like ice in curling, there's that little ripple effect. 

There are all kinds of different things that you have to think about when you're playing these types of games and one of the things is if you have an opportunity to shoot, shoot. Don't complicate it.

Feel for the Hart

Somewhat surprisingly, 33-year-old Brian Elliott is starting in net over Hart (see story), the 20-year-old sensation fans have fallen in love with since his arrival — and really, since his draft day in the summer of 2016.

Hart, who will now miss time with a lower-body injury announced Saturday morning (see story), is coming off being benched in back-to-back games. The second came Thursday night in Montreal, when he allowed three goals on nine shots in 10:33 ice time of a 5-1 loss to the Canadiens.

 

Elliott said he can relate and certainly isn't worried about Hart:

I'm pretty sure I've been shelled a couple times in Montreal. They come out so hard in that building and they can roll you over. It doesn't matter if they're last in the league or first in the league, they play that way at home where they can roll teams over. 

It's overwhelming sometimes and you learn from it. He's definitely going to learn from it, he's a mature kid and he's shown that he can play with the best in the world, so he won't have any trouble.

To get you further ready for Saturday's game, let's check out some more sights and sounds:

https://twitter.com/johnborukNBCS/status/1099082214447476736 https://twitter.com/johnborukNBCS/status/1099080084995092481 https://twitter.com/johnborukNBCS/status/1099304507585056768

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