With a two-game road trip, Alain Vigneault's club will get its first crack at Metropolitan Division play.
The Flyers (5-2-1) start their divisional competition Thursday night when they face the Penguins (3-3-2).
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
• The Metropolitan Division has the potential to be the deepest in the NHL this season. There shouldn't be any cheapie to make the playoffs out of the division.
So far, the Metropolitan Division has six teams with positive goal differentials. The Pacific has three, the Atlantic two and the Central two.
And four of the NHL's top eight point percentages are Metropolitan Division clubs: the Hurricanes (1.000), Capitals (.722), Rangers (.700) and Flyers (.688).
"It's early in the season that we just have to worry about ourselves, make sure we put ourselves in a position that halfway through the season we're in the playoff race or up there in the standings," Claude Giroux said Monday. "It's not a secret that there are a lot of good hockey teams in our division, but at the same time, we're going to play them, so it's going to be in our control."
After the Flyers play the Penguins, they head to D.C. to meet the Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
"When you're talking about divisional games, you're talking about four-point games," Vigneault said Wednesday. "Extremely important, we understand that.
"I've watched Pittsburgh play quite a few times this year. Even though they've been missing some key players at different times, they're a team that plays real hard, real structured. They're getting a lot offensively from their group and defensively, they're not spending a lot of time in their end. They're a good team."
• Pittsburgh has dealt with a difficult COVID-19 situation and injuries to many of its top players.
Against the Flyers, the Penguins are expected to be without Sidney Crosby (COVID-19 protocol), Evgeni Malkin (knee), Bryan Rust (lower body), Brian Dumoulin (COVID-19 protocol), Marcus Pettersson (COVID-19 protocol) and Chad Ruhwedel (COVID-19 protocol).
Crosby and Dumoulin tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday. Crosby has played only one game this season after recovering from a wrist injury. Malkin has yet to play. Rust has played only two games and Kris Letang only four.
"Every time we play Pittsburgh, in general, it's great games, great battles," Ivan Provorov said Wednesday. "Crosby's still one of the top guys in the league. I think overall, even without them, they've been doing pretty good so far, so it's going to be a good challenge and a good game."
• On this two-game trip, the Flyers will be without top-pair defenseman Ryan Ellis (lower body). After tonight and Saturday, he'll have missed seven straight games. Here's the latest on the Flyers' injury front.
Coming off a 29-save shutout of the Coyotes on Tuesday, Carter Hart will start in net tonight for the Flyers.
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee-Derick Brassard-Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-James van Riemsdyk
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Nate Thompson-Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle-Nick Seeler
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