Keystone rivals get another playoff series started
Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 1:10 PM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior WriterFLYERS (47-26-9) at PENGUINS (51-25-6)
TV: NBCSN, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH (HD), ROOT (HD)
Philadelphia 5-4-1; Pittsburgh 6-4-0
The Flyers and Penguins met six times in the regular season with the Flyers winning four of them, including three in regulation and one in overtime.
What's not big about this series? It's huge. It's the Battle of Pennsylvania, the Keystone State Rivalry. These are two teams and two fan bases that do not like each other very much. They have exchanged both physical and verbal blows this season. And now they're on center stage in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
After missing the last three games of the regular season, it appears that both Danny Briere
and Nicklas Grossmann
will return to the Flyers' lineup for Game 1. Both got hurt in the Flyers 6-4 win at Pittsburgh on April 1.
, the expected Game 1 starter in net, will be making his first career appearance at Consol Energy Center. Bryzgalov appeared in three games against the Penguins this season, but they were all at Wells Fargo Center. He did not play in Pittsburgh while with the Coyotes last season. Consol Energy Center is only two years old.
"I'm not afraid of anything [except] the bear in the forest," Bryzgalov said according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Well, that would mean he's not afraid of playoff hockey, even though he hasn't exactly dazzled in the postseason in the last two years. Bryzgalov won only three of 11 playoff games with the Coyotes. He was 0-4 last season with a 4.36 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.
He is also coming off an injury (chip fracture in his right foot) that limited him to playing in only two of the final six regular season games. However, he won 15 games and posted a 1.84 GAA after the All-Star break.
Unlike last season, when the Penguins went into the playoffs without Sidney Crosby
(concussion) and Evgeni Malkin
(knee), they are now healthy and hungry with Game 1 looming.
Malkin won the Art Ross Trophy with 109 points in 75 games. He had nine points in six games against the Flyers.
Crosby has 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 14 games since making his second celebrated return to the lineup this season. He finished the regular season with 37 points in 22 games, including four points in three games against the Flyers.
, who will start the series on Crosby's wing, brings a 17-game point-scoring streak into the playoffs; the longest in the NHL this season and the longest for a Penguins player since Sidney Crosby
's 25-game run during the 2010-11 season.
"I feel good. I feel young. I feel like this year (it) was clicking," Dupuis said. "You play with great teammates, it's always a big plus."
and Steve Sullivan
should be ready to go for Game 1 after each missed the last two games of the regular season.
Well, in Pittsburgh you obviously have Dupuis, who scored his 25th goal of the season Saturday. It happened to be his 33rd birthday. Malkin also closed the regular season on an eight-game point-scoring streak (five goals, nine assists). … Claude Giroux
did not play in the finale, but he had seven points over his last three regular-season games.
Briere (back) and Grossman (back) should be clear for the Flyers while Neal (lower body) and Sullivan (lower body) should be OK for Pittsburgh. The Flyers are still without Andrej Meszaros
(back) and James van Riemsdyk
(left foot). … The Penguins are not sure when Matt Niskanen
(upper body) will return, but Ben Lovejoy
(knee) has been cleared.
Giroux led the Flyers with eight points on a goal and seven assists in five games against Pittsburgh. Jagr scored four of his 19 goals this season against Pittsburgh. … Crosby had 12 points over a season-ending five-game point-scoring streak.
"You think you're mentally tough, but until you go through things … that's what helps you and makes you better," Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "As hard as it seemed at certain points, I think it's something that you can learn from. I think I've always appreciated playing in the playoffs, but I'm sure I'll appreciate it a little more."