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Wednesday Night Rivalry

5 Reasons to watch Penguins-Flyers

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin lead Pittsburgh against desperate Philadelphia

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

Wednesday Night Rivalry: PIT@PHI

Coors Light Wednesday Night Rivalry Preview: PIT@PHI

NHL Tonight previews the Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers

  • 05:56 •

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers will have their eyes on different prizes when they play the Wednesday Night Rivalry game at Wells Fargo Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).

The Penguins are in in a three-way battle with the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the NHL standings. Pittsburgh is 3-0-1 entering the finale of a five-game road trip after a 4-3 shootout loss at the Calgary Flames on Monday.

Pittsburgh is all but assured of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs; Philadelphia will have to scramble to make it. The Flyers trail the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning by seven points in the race for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

 

Here are 5 reasons to tune in:

Sidney Crosby

After leading the Penguins to the Stanley Cup last season and powering Team Canada to the championship at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in September, Crosby has his eyes set on helping Pittsburgh become the first NHL team to win the Cup in back-to-back seasons since the Detroit Red Wings in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Despite missing the first six games of the season with a concussion, his 35 goals are tied with Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins for the NHL lead, and he's been in the top five in scoring for most of the season. Crosby is relentless on the puck and combines the kind of 200-foot game coaches adore with some of the best offensive skills of anyone in the League.

Video: PIT@CGY: Crosby deflects Sheary's shot past Elliott

 

Evgeni Malkin

Malkin's offensive production has taken off. He scored his 33rd goal of the season against the Calgary Flames on Monday, giving him seven goals in his past seven games. He's also risen to fifth in the NHL scoring race. Malkin's presence presents a dilemma for opponents, who have to decide which line to deploy their top checkers against. When he's on a hot streak, as has been the case since he returned from injury a month ago, the Penguins can be almost impossible to play against.

Video: PIT@CGY: Malkin finishes off give-and-go for PPG

 

Wayne Simmonds

Few players in the NHL have scored as consistently as Simmonds, whose next goal will be his 200th in the NHL. Simmonds has played five full seasons with the Flyers; he's scored at least 28 goals in all five. A lot of those goals come because Simmonds is willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice, especially on the power play. Half of his 28 goals this season have come with the Flyers up a man, and he's scored 56 power-play goals since the start of the 2013-14 season.

Video: COL@PHI: Simmonds banks shorthanded goal past Smith

 

Justin Schultz

Being traded to Pittsburgh by the Edmonton Oilers before the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline has helped Schultz take his game to a whole new level. He's already put up NHL career highs in goals (12), assists (34) and points (46), and his play has helped Pittsburgh overcome a host of injuries on defense this season -- most notably to Kris Letang, who's been limited to 41 games and hasn't played since Feb. 21.

Video: PIT@WPG: Schultz rips a slapper top-shelf for PPG

 

Desperation

Coaches always talk about wanting their teams to play desperate hockey. But times are indeed desperate for the Flyers, who have struggled in the past couple of weeks and dropped behind teams like the Islanders, Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs in the race for the second wild card. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol guided them on a late-season run to the playoffs in 2015-16; they're running out of time to match that feat this season.

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