Hockey is back. The NHL drops the puck on the 2020-21 season at last on Wednesday evening, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are once again welcoming you back.

The Flyers start a new season after coming one win short of reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2010. While it is primarily the same team that took the ice a few months ago in that Game 7 loss to the Islanders, there are a few internal additions that could make a difference.

The Penguins return with the familiar core group, trying to make a return to prominence after bowing out in the qualifying round of the playoffs over the summer.

The season opener from Wells Fargo Center is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Team Leaders (Stats from 2019-20 Regular Season)

Philadelphia FlyersGPGAPPittsburgh PenguinsGPGAP
Travis Konecny66243761Evgeni Malkin55254974
Sean Couturier69223759Bryan Rust55272956
Jake Voracek69124456Sidney Crosby41163147
Claude Giroux69213253Kris Letang61152944
Kevin Hayes69231841Jake Guentzel39202343

Players To Watch
After missing the entire 2019-20 season, Nolan Patrick makes his return to the lineup officially. It has been a long time coming for Patrick, who was a constant subject of conversation with his status so unknown. In his return in the intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday, Patrick scored a goal, and his health has remained good throughout training camp. Hopefully, this is the start of a new chapter for the former second overall pick, but it will certainly be worth watching to see how he looks in a competitive game setting against a divisional opponent again.
The success of the Pittsburgh Penguins centers a lot around Sidney Crosby. The Penguins captain missed significant time last season, playing in just 44 games, but he is ready for the start of a new season and will look to lead the Penguins back to where they have been for many years near the top of the standings. Crosby is always an offensive threat and it's no secret the success he has against the Flyers. If any player will provide the spark to get the Penguins going early, this is the guy.
Goalie Matchup
Carter Hart begins his third season and expectations for him continue to soar after he showed a lot of success in the playoffs, recording a pair of shutouts and winning a series by out-dueling Carey Price. Even in a shortened season where keeping your goalie fresh will be so critical, Hart will get his share of starts and he could further establish himself as one of the NHL's top goalies.The Penguins made the decision to move on from Matt Murray in the offseason, leaving Tristan Jarry as the man in net. A lot will be put on Jarry's shoulders in the shortened season and he posted excellent numbers last season. It may take a similar performance to help the Penguins make a run at the playoffs, so Jarry will need to be consistent and on point throughout the season. After being named an All-Star a season ago and generating a lot of talk as the Penguins goalie of the future, confirmed by the Murray trade, it's time to see if that pays off for the Penguins.Projected Lineups

Flyers Line Combos

Flyers Scratches: Morgan Frost, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Friedman

Opponent Line Combos

Penguins Scratches: Chad Ruhwedel, Juuso Riikola

Lineup Notes

  • Flyers: You can't ignore the Flyers depth up front. By adding Oskar Lindblom and Patrick, the Flyers move Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to the fourth line, and both players were in much more significant roles last season at times. Having them on your fourth line gives you a chance to provide offense at any point in the game. Defensively, the Flyers are using Justin Braun in Matt Niskanen's familiar place, keeping the Travis Sanheim-Phil Myers pairing together and keeping newcomer Erik Gustafsson with Robert Hagg.
  • Penguins: One of the key offseason additions for the Penguins, Kasperi Kapanen, will not be available for Wednesday's game due to COVID-19 protocols as he completes his quarantine. Outside of that, it is an expected lineup for the Penguins. Newcomer Evan Rodrigues will play alongside Crosby and Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust and Jason Zucker will play together as well.

Game Notes

  • Power Play (Rankings from 2019-20 Regular Season): Flyers (14th), Penguins (16th)
  • Penalty Kill (Rankings from 2019-20 Regular Season): Flyers (11th), Penguins (T-8th)
  • Recent History vs. Penguins
    • Oct. 29, 2019 - Penguins 7, Flyers 1 (at PIT)
    • Jan. 21, 2020 - Flyers 3, Penguins 0 (at PHI)
    • Jan. 31, 2020 - Penguins 4, Flyers 3 (F/OT) (at PIT)
  • Flyers Leaders vs. Penguins
    • Claude Giroux - 51 GP, 16 G, 35 A, 51 P
    • Jake Voracek - 43 GP, 23 G, 20 A, 43 P
    • Joel Farabee - 3 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P
    • Sean Couturier - 37 GP, 6 G, 17 A, 23 P
    • Carter Hart - 3 GP, 1-1-0, 2.15 GAA, .936 SV%
  • Milestone Watch
    • Travis Konecny plays in his 300th NHL game tonight.
    • Jake Voracek needs two assists to pass Mark Recchi for fifth all-time in Flyers history.

Where to Watch
TV: NBCSN
Radio: 97.3 ESPN

Game Preview Video

Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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