Nick Grossmann scored the first Flyers' goal in their 6-5 win over the Penguins on Feb. 20. Grossmann's stauts for tonight's game is unknown after he suffered a groin injury in the Flyers' 4-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday.
The last chapter in the Battle of Pennsylvania may have been the most exciting hockey game of the season. Back-and-forth action, hard-hitting, trash-talking - the usual for any Flyers-Penguins game.
Tonight, the Penguins enter the Wells Fargo Center for the second time this season, the first since the season opener. It also marks the second game of a crucial week for the Flyers, who most recently lost to the New York Rangers, 4-2, on Tuesday.
With games against the Bruins and Sabres over the weekend, the Flyers can't take any game this week lightly. But with the way they flatlined after the first period on Tuesday, there is no room for error tonight. There is no room to give away another game. This is a must-win.
Just a week ago, there was a chance the Flyers would avoid facing Evgeni Malkin due to concussion-like symptoms. But Malkin has since returned to the Penguins' lineup and has been gaining points since.
Obviously, Sidney Crosby is always a threat. And with several players who have success against the Flyers, most notably Tyler Kennedy, the Pens are a deep group.
But the Flyers can score too, especially if the Penguins get caught up in the physical game and keep putting the Flyers on the power play. Between Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux, there are plenty of opportunities to score, and recently, the Flyers have had great success against both Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun.
The Flyers could also be without two key players. Nick Grossmann suffered a groin injury on Tuesday and is day-to-day. His status is currently unknown for tonight's game. Meanwhile, Matt Read was well ahead of schedule on his recovery and, according to reports, is "a possibility" for tonight's game. Read said he still has pain in his ribs when shooting but would still play given the opportunity.
Ilya Bryzgalov, the ironman he has been in net this season, will likely get another start. The loss on Tuesday was not his fault by any stretch with a short-handed defense in front of him.
The importance of this game simply cannot be expressed in words. This game could determine the future of the Flyers as a playoff team or a team that just never found the success needed to get through.
Blame it on health, blame it on coaching, blame it on team assembly. Whatever you blame it on, this could be the game that identifies all.
So are we in store for another instant classic and thrill or more disappointment on a season that has lacked the excitement of years past? Whatever the result, it will be entertaining for sure.