Flyers steeled for unique three-game set in Pittsburgh

Sean Couturier

It’s one thing to compete for three straight games in the other guys’ building during a playoff series.

But a trio of matches on the road during the regular season?

That’s never been done before.

At least not in the 54-year-history of the Flyers.

But that’s all about to change starting Tuesday when the Flyers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for a crazy trilogy of matches at PPG Paints Arena brought on by pandemic rescheduling.

After Tuesday night, there are games Thursday night and Saturday afternoon; all part of another “first’’. . .six games in nine days.

Which is something coach Alain Vigneault brings up only about once a day.

The Flyers, coming off three straight wins – including a pair of impressive 3-0 shutouts at Buffalo over the weekend – should have some confidence going into this one-of-a-kind situation.

After all, they easily handled the Penguins in a pair of wins at the Wells Fargo Center to start the season and their defense really picked up in their dominance of the Sabres.

Right now, the Flyers (who had a day off Monday) are running neck-and-neck with teams like the Penguins, Islanders, Capitals, etc., so this “series’’ has be to be classified as “serious.’’

“In a shortened season (56 games), every point counts,’’ Shayne Gostisbehere said. “Every game is a divisional game. Our division is definitely a tough one.

“I think for us, three games in Pittsburgh will be a good test for us. We got a good start on the road trip and I think we just want to keep rolling.’’

One thing working in the Flyers’ favor: They have games in hand on just about everyone in the NHL East Division because they had four games postponed due to the pandemic. So there are points to be garnered if they can just maintain their steady play this week.

>History made

The two games of the Buffalo series mark the first time in franchise history that the Flyers have posted shutouts in consecutive games where both games were on the road.

They had two consecutive road shutouts in January of 1999 when they blanked Washington on Jan. 13 and Ottawa on Jan. 18, but there was a 4-3 home loss to Toronto in between the two shutouts on Jan. 16.

Overall, it’s the first time the Flyers posted consecutive shutouts since Oct. 2015, when they blanked Florida on Oct. 12 and Chicago on Oct. 14, both at home.

It’s also the first time they have shut out the same opponent in consecutive games since doing so against the New York Rangers in October 1999, blanking them at home on Oct. 20 and in New York on Oct. 22.

>Couturier rolling

Perhaps because he missed 10 games and maybe because so much attention has been paid to James van Riemsdyk’s brilliant campaign, the exploits of Sean Couturier have been a bit overlooked.

Since coming back from a serious rib injury, Couturier has recorded five goals/10 points in six games. Most importantly, he came up big while six players were sidelined due to the pandemic.

Having Couturier and van Riemsdyk together spells trouble for opponents.

And adding a offensively gifted player such as Joel Farabee makes the mix that much more lethal.

“I think all three of us are pretty smart players,’’ Couturier said. “We try to be responsible with and without the puck. I think down low we can cycle teams, myself and ‘Riemer’ are big bodies. We can wear down some ‘D’ men. We find the open areas.

“Whenever one guy needs to forecheck, he does it and the other guys back him up. Right now it’s clicking and hopefully we can keep this rolling for awhile.’’

>Konecny skates

Travis Konecny, the last Flyer to be coming off the COVID quarantine list, skated on Monday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. and was scheduled to meet the Flyers in Pittsburgh. No official word on his playing status. Konecny has not played a game since Feb. 7 at Washington.

About Wayne Fish 1449 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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