Penguins, Flyers planning home-and-home series of outdoors games
February 5, 2016 7:15 PM
The 2017 game between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers is expected to be part of the NHL’s “Stadium Series,” rather than a Winter Classic game.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
TAMPA, Fla. — The Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are working on an agreement to play a home-and-home series of outdoors games.
The first is planned for Heinz Field in 2017, with another to follow — likely two years later — in Philadelphia.
The NHL generally does not schedule teams to appear in outdoors games in consecutive years.
A long-discussed game at Beaver Stadium in University Park apparently is not part of the agreement.
The Penguins declined to comment, although one team official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “my guess is it will happen.”
The 2017 game is expected to be part of the NHL’s “Stadium Series,” rather than a Winter Classic game.
Winter Classics are played on or around Jan. 1, and a game then conceivably could conflict with a Steelers playoff game.
The Penguins played a Winter Classic game against Washington Jan. 1, 2011 at Heinz Field. They also played a Winter Classic game in Buffalo in 2008 and a Stadium Series game in Chicago in 2014.
Sundqvist makes debut
The NHL is full of guys who were dreaming of playing in the league before they entered grade school. Penguins center Oskar Sundqvist isn’t one of them.
Sundqvist, who made his NHL debut against Tampa Bay Friday night at Amalie Arena, said thoughts of getting to the NHL “started coming to me last year, I think.”
That, he suggested, was a byproduct of growing up in Boden, Sweden.
“I didn’t have much thought about it when I was younger,” he said. “I came from a small town, not a big hockey town.”
Sundqvist was summoned Thursday from the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, after it was determined that checking-line center Eric Fehr would be out for about a month because of an unspecified injury.
Sundqvist, who had five goals and 11 assists in 39 games in the AHL, had worked on a checking line with the Baby Penguins, so his job description didn’t change much when he got the promotion.
“He’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He has good awareness in the [defensive] zone. He’s a big body [6 feet 3, 209 pounds]. He leans on people. He checks well.
“And, for a big guy, he can skate. He’s a mobile guy. I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the right way.”
Veteran forward Matt Cullen has moved up and down the Penguins lineup all season and was chosen to replace center Evgeni Malkin between Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel on the second line this weekend while Malkin recovers from an unspecified injury.
Cullen, at 39, acknowledged Friday that he didn’t expect to keep up with such speedy wingers.
Not when they were on the attack, anyway.
“I told Phil I’ll be the slowest going up the ice, but I might be the fastest coming back [defensively],” Cullen said. “He laughed at that.”
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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