PITTSBURGH - Sean Couturier will return to the lineup Thursday when the Flyers play streaking Pittsburgh at the Consol Energy Center.
The rookie center has been sidelined since teammate Kimmo Timonen's slap shot hit him near his left ear on Dec. 17 against Boston. Couturier said he lost most of his hearing in the ear, but that it is now almost back to normal.
Couturier could be on a line with Brayden Schenn and Harry Zolnierczyk Thursday.
The scratches: Zac Rinaldo, Jody Shelley and Matt Walker. Erik Gustafsson (wrist) still is not ready to return.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a 3-0 lifetime record in Pittsburgh, will get the start. Bobrovsky is 7-2-1 with a 2.57 GAA and .913 save percentage. Ilya Bryzgalov is 14-8-3 with a 3.10 GAA and .890 save percentage, and he has lost four straight.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't address the issue when asked if Bob's performance Thursday would affect his decision on the Winter Classic starter.
From here, I'd say it's 95/5 that Bryzgalov starts the Winter Classic Monday against the Rangers. But if Bob stands on his head Thursday....well, you never know.
* * *
Pittsburgh will be trying to extend a four-game winning streak; the Flyers have lost two straight and are trying to avoid their first three-game skid of the season.
* * *
Jaromir Jagr was not himself Wednesday. The usually gregarious Flyers winger, who won five scoring titles with the Penguins, was mostly agitated during a news conference. He admitted on Thursday that he was upset with how the Pittsburgh media has portrayed him.
"Maybe I overreacted. I'm just not happy with some of the media here," he said after Thursday's morning skate. "They make up everything. That was the problem. That's when they start everything, and it's tough to control.
"It's bothered me for a long time, and I was a little bit mad about it yesterday," he added. "It's not going to help me, but at least" he relieved his frustration.
Among the things that apparently bothered Jagr were reports that he had agreed to return to Pittsburgh before signing with the Flyers.