Flyers killer Jake Guentzel expects tough opposition from Penguins’ cross-state rivals
The last time Jake Guentzel played against the Philadelphia Flyers, it was during a hotly contested, first-round playoff series last season.
The Flyers put up a good fight against their bitter cross-state rivals until Guentzel put them away with a four-goal effort in Game 6.
Seven short months later, the Flyers are in disarray. Heading into a matchup with the Penguins on Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena, they’ve lost six of their last seven games and fallen into last place in the Eastern Conference.
They fired general manager Ron Hextall after a 6-0 loss to Toronto last Saturday night, and the future of coach Dave Hakstol hangs in the balance while they search for a replacement.
They have the league’s third-worst defense and second-worst penalty kill and goaltending, as it seemingly has for decades, remains a problem.
Guentzel, though, said it’s in the best interest of the Penguins to expect that the dangerous version of the Flyers from last April, not the wounded current version, will arrive in town Saturday night.
“We obviously know they have really good players, high-end players,” Guentzel said. “They’re a good team. We know it’s going to be an emotional game, a rivalry game. We have to expect their best and have our best.”
Guentzel, incidentally, torched the Flyers in that first-round playoff series beyond his four-goal game. Playing on a red-hot line with Sidney Crosby, he piled up 13 points in the six-game series.
He certainly wouldn’t mind be labeled as a Flyers killer moving forward.
“That’s the games you want to play in and be a part of it,” Guentzel said. “I think if you can raise your level in those games, it’s for the best.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.