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Drop The Puck Already: Flyers-Hawks

Season gets underway with news from both team's morning skate

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers

Well, it's here. Finally here! The Flyers open the 2019-20 season in the much anticipated NHL Global Series against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague.

An important two points are on the line, and to prepare you for tonight's action below are the storylines and reaction from the team's morning skate.

PITLICK IS IN

* Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault announced that forward Tyler Pitlick is in the lineup. He's been medically cleared to play and Tyler himself declared his urgency to get going, so tonight will be his first game of any kind since missing all of training camp and preseason rehabbing from wrist surgery in the summer.

PITLICK: "They're [coaching staff] are confident in my game and they know what I'm going to bring. I guess that's a good feeling for me that they feel that way, but it doesn't matter because if I don't play well, then that will be that."

As a result, the Flyers will dress 12 forwards, six defensemen and Carter Hart will get the call in net. Lines from the skate are as follows:

 

LINE PLAY
Giroux - Hayes - Voracek
Lindblom - Couturier - Konecny
Twarynski - Laughton - van Riemsdyk
Bunnaman - Raffl - Pitlick 

Provorov - Braun
Gostisbehere - Hagg
Sanheim - Niskanen 

Hart

 VIGNEAULT (on his lines): "I haven't found, yet, lines or duos that, not that I'm not comfortable with, but that I feel would bring us more consistent performances, so I'm trying different things."

Video: Hear from the players after morning skate in Prague 

BREAKING UP

You may have taken notice of the line combinations above and the subtle, but significant changes with Pitlick joining the group. Most notably, Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux will be on separate lines.

As a result, in order to balance things out and spread the wealth, James van Riemsdyk will be skating alongside Carsen Twarynski (who is making his NHL debut) and Scott Laughton at center. Bunnaman will make his NHL debut on the fourth line alongside Pitlick and Raffl at center. 

JVR will be featured on the team's top power-play unit which, with the addition of Kevin Hayes, has an all new, big-body look to it: Voracek-Giroux-Hayes-van Riemsdyk as the forwards and Shayne Gostisbehere up at the point. 

van RIEMSDYK: "I think down the stretch on the power-play last year we were much better. Last year was last year, but we have a lot of different faces now that guys are trying to implement. Certainly it's something we're going to have to work out, but we have a lot of skilled players out there and I think we can make it work."

 On the blueline, another switch that comes as a little surprise is Ivan Provorov anchoring the top pair with Justin Braun. Braun had spent nearly all of training camp with Shayne Gostisbehere, who will play with Robert Hagg.

PROVOROV: "Every defenseman here is here for a reason. You should be able to play with everyone. Brauner's a great player. He's played in the league for a while. He's got tons of experience, so it shouldn't take us too long to get used to each other."

 

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

* The Chicago Blackhawks come into tonight's game after an up and down preseason: losing the first two, winning the next, then dropping both games in North America for defeating Berlin in their Global Series Challenge exhibition (3-1).

* Corey Crawford will get the start in net tonight... He allowed seven goals on 50 shots in two appearances during the preseason, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.50 GAA & .860 save percentage.

* An injury to their back end will force the Hawks to play defensemen Dennis Gilbert. This will be Gilbert's second game in the NHL, but Chicago head coach Jeremy Colliton is confident due to Gilbert's training camp and preseason.

COLLITON: "He came a long way last year. When he got his chance (to make his NHL debut), I thought he was very solid. To me, he opened some eyes as far as he's not that far away. He's had a good summer and he's been solid in Training Camp and he forced his way in. We feel very comfortable with him that he can give us solid minutes."

Puck drop is 2pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen live on 97.5 The Fanatic.

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