With the Flyers playing six games over nine days, head coach Alain Vigneault had mentioned the possibility of using more personnel.
There could be more changes Thursday when the Flyers (11-5-3) play the Penguins (12-8-1) in Game 2 of their three-game set.
Let's get into the essentials for the game:
- When: 7 p.m. ET with The Warm Up at 6 p.m. ET and Flyers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. ET
- Where: PPG Paints Arena
- Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
• Starting tonight, the Flyers will play three games in four days to wrap up a stretch of six games in nine days.
Vigneault utilized seven defensemen and 13 forwards over the last three games.
In the Flyers' 5-2 loss Tuesday to the Penguins, Travis Konecny reentered the lineup after a 14-day stint on the NHL's COVID protocol list. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was a healthy scratch at forward, while defenseman Erik Gustafsson sat for a second straight game. The Flyers were not very good as a whole and on the back end.
Could there be lineup changes tonight? Or a shuffling of the lines?
"At this time, I have a few moving parts, game-time decisions," Vigneault said Thursday after morning skate. "So I can't really expand on that at this moment.
"We might have these plans where we're going to do some rotations, but sometimes the money doesn't permit us, the 23-man roster doesn't permit us. We just finished a stretch of [three games in four days], we're starting another one — three in four, six in nine. When I say there might be some moving parts tonight, maybe that will come into the equation — we'll see tonight how things unfold."
At forward, it would not be surprising to see Aube-Kubel return to the lineup. He's one of the team's better forecheckers who consistently plays a north-south game. The Flyers could use those qualities after a 5-2 loss. Connor Bunnaman, Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick appear to be candidates to sit for a game.
Patrick, a natural center, has played right winger the last four games. He's scoreless over the past 12 games but Tuesday night was one of his more offensively active games. If Bunnaman comes out, Patrick could slide back to center. It may be time for that. It's also possible Patrick could sit instead, given Aube-Kubel is a right winger. Lindblom is only three games back after recovering from the coronavirus. He played a season-low 12:52 minutes in Tuesday's loss.
Both Patrick (migraine disorder) and Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis) entered 2020-21 after missing extended periods of time last season.
"I see Nolan working extremely hard, getting more involved," Vigneault said. "It hasn't materialized on the score sheet, it has come up a little bit more frequently on our scoring chances that we keep. I've always felt all along that defensively he's been responsible, I just wanted him to be a little bit grittier in those battles inside.
"With him and Oskar, we have to show patience. Those guys coming back, when you're out for that length of time and you don't train for that length of time, it takes a while to get back. We've got to show patience, we've got to show confidence. They know where their game is — they have to show resilience, they have to be positive with themselves, they have to continue to work to get their game to where it needs to be so that they can help our team."
• For a second straight game, the Penguins will miss three-time champion Sidney Crosby, who is out because of the NHL's COVID protocol.
Update, 4:57 p.m. — Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said in the morning that Crosby was still in COVID protocol. However, the team announced before 5 p.m. ET that Crosby has been activated off the NHL's COVID protocol list. Pittsburgh did not clarify whether Crosby would play tonight. The presumption is the move means Crosby will play.
• Brian Elliott is 5-1-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and two shutouts.
He'll face the Penguins for the first time this season.
"You know what you're going to get from him every game," Claude Giroux said Thursday. "We've always had confidence in Moose and his confidence is high right now."
• Sean Couturier has put together a seven-game point streak during which he has put up five goals, six assists and a plus-8 rating. Since Feb. 7, here are the NHL's points-per-game leaders:
1. Patrick Kane — 1.73
2. Auston Matthews — 1.70
3. Sean Couturier — 1.57
During that stretch, Kane has played 11 games, Matthews 10 and Couturier seven.
James van Riemsdyk-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Claude Giroux-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman-Nolan Patrick-Michael Raffl
Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere
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