German Rubtsov

Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers would much rather go into their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week riding a win over the Penguins than stewing over a loss to the division rival.

They'll decide their fate ahead of the break Tuesday night when the Flyers (26-17-6) host the Penguins (31-13-5).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• If the Flyers want to beat Pittsburgh, they'll have to find a way to at least somewhat slow down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Since returning from core muscle surgery, Crosby has eight points (three goals, five assists) in four games, while Malkin has gone scoreless only twice over his last 19 games, a stretch in which he has put up 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists).

Those two have notoriously hurt the Flyers. Crosby owns 102 points (42 goals, 60 assists) in 68 career games against the Flyers and Malkin boasts 70 points (27 goals, 43 assists) in 56 lifetime meetings with the orange and black.

During the Flyers' 7-1 loss to the Penguins on Oct. 29, the lone matchup thus far in 2019-20, Crosby enjoyed a three-point game and Malkin was out. The Flyers have been far better defensively at home, so let's see what adjustments they make in Game 2 of the four-game regular-season series.

• Speaking of playing at home, the Flyers have taken significant strides in that area. They are 16-4-4 with 36 points at home after going 19-18-4 with 42 points last season.

Another important improvement has been their play against the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers are 8-2-3 vs. divisional opponents compared to a 10-16-2 mark against the Metro last season.

Interestingly, the Flyers and Penguins have been polar opposites against the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Flyers are 18-6-4 vs. the East compared to 8-11-2 against the West, while the Penguins are 11-9-3 vs. the East compared to 20-4-2 against the West.

• The Flyers will be without Michael Raffl (upper body) as rookie call-up German Rubtsov enters the lineup.

Joel Farabee, who has goals in back-to-back games, should see greater minutes.

Projected lineup

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
German Rubtsov-Connor Bunnaman-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

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Flyers recall Mikhail Vorobyev, send down German Rubtsov

Flyers recall Mikhail Vorobyev, send down German Rubtsov

Updated: 2:12 p.m.

Mikhail Vorobyev is back and German Rubtsov’s taste of the NHL is done for now.

The Flyers on Wednesday recalled Vorobyev from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and sent Rubtsov to the Phantoms.

Rubtsov, a 21-year-old forward, made his NHL debut last week and played three games with the Flyers in limited fourth-line minutes. It’s not that he didn’t play well; the Flyers likely just want to see him continue to develop in a much bigger role in Lehigh Valley, where he was handling the puck and playing in all situations.

However, head coach Alain Vigneault was not pleased with his fourth line Tuesday night, which Rubtsov centered in a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes.

"[Playing more with the Phantoms] had something to do with it, but really it had more to do with giving our team the best chance to win," Vigneault said Wednesday after practice. "He looked … I don’t want to say … overwhelmed is not the right word, but he was fighting it a little bit with and without the puck."

Carolina outplayed the Flyers through the first two periods, often pinning the Flyers in their own end. Rubtsov ended up playing no more than two minutes in the third period.

“I thought for the first 40 minutes, Ruby’s line spent most of their time in our zone," Vigneault said.

In another effort to boost the fourth line, Vigneault shifted Michael Raffl down to the unit and bumped up Carsen Twarynski to the third line.

“I just didn’t feel we were getting what I needed from our fourth line, especially when we’re playing four games in six nights," Vigneault said. "I talked to Raffy about it, I told him I was looking for balance, I want to be able to play four lines right now and I think this gives us a better chance to do that.”

Vorobyev, a 2015 fourth-round pick, has played five games with the Flyers this season and is expected to center the fourth line. He has skill and penalty kill ability and the Flyers will want to see more consistency.

“Misha, originally when he got here, I thought I liked the way he was playing, his energy," Vigneault said. "It slipped a little bit, so we just made an easy change and hopefully Misha will be good for us [Thursday].”

It doesn't hurt, either, to let Rubtsov continue his development offensively in the AHL. With the Phantoms, he had six points in seven games. He opened the season in Lehigh Valley and has always been regarded for his defensive focus.

"The idea with him going to Lehigh Valley was to allow him to get more offensive puck touches, maybe play some power play, try to develop the offensive part of his game," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said last week. "That’s something we’ll want to be mindful of while he’s up here, but certainly we’re very confident that he can come in and play well away from the puck, compete and use his size and hockey sense to his advantage."

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Chuck Fletcher shows he wasn't kidding with latest slew of Flyers' roster moves

Chuck Fletcher shows he wasn't kidding with latest slew of Flyers' roster moves

Chuck Fletcher has shown he is not afraid to try different things.

After all, he expected to.

"I anticipate an awful lot of roster changes the first six weeks of the year,” the Flyers’ general manager said in late September.

"There's not going to be any final roster, final cuts. There's going to an ebb and flow of players between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley for the early part of the season, depending on who we're playing, the health of our team, whether we need right shots or left shots, or wingers or centeremen."

Two days after taking a 7-1 drubbing from the Penguins, the Flyers made a slew of roster moves Thursday. The team called up Philippe Myers, German Rubtsov and Carsen Twarynski from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, while loaning Mikhail Vorobyev to the Phantoms and sending Samuel Morin to Lehigh Valley on a conditioning stint.

Scott Laughton also underwent successful surgery Wednesday on his right index finger, which he had broken last Saturday. He is expected to be out three to four weeks and will be placed on long-term injured reserve (see story).

The roster is now at a maximum of 23 players. The Flyers had to do some maneuvering to make these call-ups.

They’ve been bullish on Philippe Myers, who will step into the Flyers’ defensive pairs, which would likely make Robert Hagg the team’s extra blueliner.

"He’s gone down, played big minutes and played well," Fletcher said Thursday. "He’s earned the right to be back up here. We knew it would be a matter of time and part of the reason we let him go down was to play big minutes, play power play, play penalty kill — let him get his game to regular-season level versus training camp level. And when we do put him in, hopefully he’s playing with a high degree of confidence."

Rubtsov can play center or winger and it seems he’ll play down the middle on the Flyers’ fourth line, between Twarynski and either Chris Stewart or Tyler Pitlick.

A 21-year-old 2016 first-round pick, Rubtsov is smart and steady with sneaky offensive ability. He had six points and a plus-4 mark in seven games with the Phantoms.

"Rubtsov is what you guys saw in training camp. He’s competitive, consistent — remarkably consistent for a 21-year-old — plays the game the right way defensively," Fletcher said. "The idea with him going to Lehigh Valley was to allow him to get more offensive puck touches, maybe play some power play, try to develop the offensive part of his game. That’s something we’ll want to be mindful of while he’s up here, but certainly we’re very confident that he can come in and play well away from the puck, compete and use his size and hockey sense to his advantage."

The Flyers are 5-5-1 after October (see story). Fletcher, head coach Alain Vigneault and the staff are still looking for the right mixture, even potentially trying four rookies in the lineup Friday night against the Devils.

Here were the lines and pairings at practice Thursday:

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
Carsen Twarynski-German Rubtsov-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers

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