Flyers go for four in a row
Thursday, 10.08.2009 / 7:00 PM
Season series -- It's the first installment of this season's Battle of Pennsylvania. The Penguins won four of the six meetings last season -- two in regulation, one in OT and the other in a shootout. The Penguins won twice in Philadelphia while the Flyers won the finale in Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury was 4-1 in net for Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby and Simon Gagne had four goals while Jeff Carter, Ruslan Fedotenko and Evgeni Malkin had three goals. The Penguins also eliminated the Flyers in five games in the first round of the playoffs on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.
PENGUINS (2-1-0) at FLYERS (3-0-0)
Big Story -- Ray Emery has been outstanding in net in his first season for the Flyers, posting three wins, a 2.30 goals-against average and .922 save percentage to make GM Paul Holmgren look like a genius -- at least for the first week of the season.
With the departure of Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi, the Penguins signed Jay McKee, a great shotblocker and hard checker. McKee showed he's also here to protect teammates when he took exception Saturday to Brendan Witt's hard hit on Fedotenko. McKee picked up 19 minutes of penalties to take the NHL's early lead.
Penguins -- The Penguins don't figure to be in a happy mood after Wednesday night's clunker, a 3-0 home loss to Phoenix in which they were outworked and outhustled all night. Pittsburgh won its first two games, at home against the Rangers and in a shootout on Long Island, but has showed only flashes of the form that carried the Pens to the Stanley Cup last spring. Sidney Crosby has two goals, but Evgeni Malkin has yet to find the back of the net.
Flyers -- Just about everything has gone right for the Flyers in this season's 3-0-0 start. Ray Emery has been brilliant in goal, newcomer Chris Pronger has brought size and toughness to the blue line and the offense has generated 13 goals in three games. Captain Mike Richards has five, including a hat trick in Tuesday's scintillating 6-5 overtime win over Washington.
Who's Hot -- Richards' five goals are tied with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead. Defenseman Matt Carle set up all four of Philadelphia's second-period goals against the Caps, tying the NHL single-period record for assists by a defenseman. Crosby scored goals in Pittsburgh's first two games and reached the 400-point mark in his 292nd NHL game, the sixth-fastest player in League history to get to 400.
Injury Report -- Flyers' fourth-line center Blair Betts will be out a month with a separated shoulder. Penguins forward Maxime Talbot is out until mid-November following shoulder surgery and defenseman Ben Lovejoy is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.
Stat Pack -- The Flyers have the second-highest points percentage in the history of the NHL. They've earned 57.8 percent of all available points in their 3,263 games dating back to 1967. They've won 16 division championships, three conference championships and two Stanley Cups, but none since 1975.
Puck Drop -- Despite his team's fast start on offense, "We don’t want to get involved in a track meet with the Pittsburghs and the Washingtons of the world," Flyers coach John Stevens said after beating the Caps. "I think we’re built just a little bit differently, but we do have an exciting offensive team and I think you saw that, but we’re going to be a little bit different in hopefully shutting the game down a little bit more."
--John McGourty, NHL.com