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Penguins know what to expect from Flyers

Wednesday, 04.15.2009 / 1:36 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins don't have to watch a lot of video to know what they're going to get against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Since the start of last season, the teams have met 19 times -- eight times in the 2007-08 regular season, five times in last spring's Eastern Conference Finals, and six more times this season.

"We know what we're up against," Penguins defenseman Hal Gill told NHL.com. "We know their personnel.

"You know the faces on the guys. When they're coming down on you, you know what moves they have, you know their strengths, their weaknesses, if they're going to dump it in, try to make a move, those little things."

Pittsburgh won four of the six meetings between the teams this season, including two of three in Philadelphia. This time of year, though, that only holds so much merit.

"Still just the regular season and playoff hockey is a whole different story," said Jordan Staal. "It's nice to know we've had their number so far, but we have to get going."

One of the players who will get a later start at going is forward Chris Kunitz. The first-line left wing missed the morning skate after spending the night in the hospital with his wife, who went into labor. Coach Dan Bylsma said Kunitz was spending the day with his family, but would be in the lineup Wednesday night, taking his regular spot alongside center Sidney Crosby and right wing Bill Guerin.

The Pens’ other lines will feature League scoring champ Evgeni Malkin centering Petr Sykora and Ruslan Fedotenko; Staal between Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy; and a fourth line of Maxime Talbot, Pascal Dupuis and Eric Godard.

Bylsma did not mention which defenseman would sit from the seven healthy blueliners he has, but his top four likely will be Sergei Gonchar with Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang with Gill. Rob Scuderi also will play with either Philippe Boucher or Mark Eaton.

It's one of the many decisions facing Bylsma in his first go-round as a coach in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His players say they haven't noticed much difference in their coach, who says he's trying to treat the playoffs as he would any other game.

"Usually the indication for me is I wake up at 5 or 5:15 and I roll over, if I can get back to sleep, I'm sleeping pretty well," said Bylsma. "If I get up at 5 and start thinking about power play and line combinations and matchups … I got up with my alarm and felt pretty refreshed."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimleman@nhl.com.
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