No Luck of the Irish this Weekend; Updated Penguins Injury Report and Preview of the Pens Back to Back with Philly.

Injury update: James Neal has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely as of today. Having missed practice on Thursday from “a maintenance day”, Neal revealed to the public that he had to see a doctor regarding his concussion.

Neal has had multiple career concussions, including one from just last season. There is no timetable currently set for Neal, however it is highly unlikely that he plays this weekend.

Chris Kunitz is banged up after taking a fall into the goal post on Tuesday night. In a similar scenario to that of Steven Stamkos, Kunitz was upended when heading toward the net. His shin smashed into the post, which resulted in instant pain. Kunitz played very little of the remaining game and also missed practice on Thursday.

He is considered likely to play this weekend against Philadelphia.

Chris Conner is officially done for the season with a broken foot sustained in his first practice back off of IR. He will be out six weeks, but will likely not be asked to suit up in the playoffs unless the team sustains more injuries.

Jayson Megna has been recalled in the midst of the injuries to Pittsburgh’s forward core. The rookie forward is making his third appearance of the season for the Pens. Megna is known for his excellent speed and lanky frame. He is expected to play on the fourth line or possibly even the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen (Megna filled in on Malkin’s line earlier in the season).

A back to back from hell.

When the NHL created the schedule for the 2013-2014 season, this weekend was definitely set up as an experiment to test the wills of each teams respective fans. Given the weekends festivities, it will also be a test of their livers.

Pittsburgh comes into the series sitting on top of the Metro division, while trailing the Bruins by a single point with a game in hand for the lead in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia comes into the series in the final wildcard position, but has just a two point lead on New Jersey and Detroit.

This series can be a huge difference maker for the Flyers then. With four critical points on the line, the Flyers cannot afford to slip up.  Looking ahead at their schedule, points will become extremely difficult to obtain for the Flyers.

With three games against Pittsburgh, two against Boston, two against St. Louis, one against the likes of Chicago, LA (who is now playing really strong), Dallas, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay, Columbus, and Toronto sure makes for a difficult run to the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Penguins do not have nearly as much to play for, with the exception of Conference supremacy. The Pens will have eleven of their remaining seventeen games at home, playing half against current playoff teams and having just one western road trip consisting of just three games.

The key players are certainly the captains of each club. Claude Giroux might have started the season like a bum, but he has certainly not let that destroy his entire season. Since the 30 game mark he has been arguably the most important player to his team’s success. The only guy who has been statistically better during this time has been Sidney Crosby, you can fake this. It will certainly be a great showcase for two of the NHL’s premier talents.

If Pittsburgh cannot match the desperation of the Flyers, then they will find themselves in trouble. If Philadelphia does not stay disciplined then they will find themselves in trouble.

The Flyers rank 12th in power play and 10th in penalty kill, while the Pens rank 1st in both categories.

Weekend Predictions:

Pittsburgh takes 3 of a possible four points in the back to back.

Crosby out duels Giroux with 3 goals and 1 assists to Claude’s 1 goal and 2 assists. Emery will outplay Mason, but Fleury will outplay them all. An in person viewing of Olli Maatta will cause fans in Philadelphia to break out in a chant for Hextall (if you get this, good for you).