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Penguins-Flyers Blog

Saturday, 04.25.2009 / 8:25 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By NHL.com Staff

Post-game news and notes, sights and sounds
April 25, 8:25 p.m.

The Penguins' monsterous rally from a 3-0 deficit to take a 5-3 win has them going on to the second round of the playoffs. They're the first team to since the 2001 Dallas Stars to win a playoff series the year after losing in the Stanley Cup Final.

It was an impressive effort by a team on the road with a sold-out crowd 20,072 booing their every move.

With the way the Flyers had really taken the play to them the last two games, it's impressive that the Penguins were able to come back to Philadelphia and win the way they did.

"This is a tough place to play," said Bill Guerin. "It's tough. If you just relax and focus on everything that's going on inside the actual rink, not necessarily the arena, you're going to be OK. If you just enjoy the experience of playing here, it's a lot of fun."

The Flyers weren't having near as much fun.

"Disappointed is the first thing that comes to mind," said Flyers captain Mike Richards. "Everyone feels confident coming into the playoffs with their team, and we did the same. We played well, we did a lot of good things. You can keep saying that, but the fact of the matter is you still lost, we're out. and it's disappointing."

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren also was disappointed, and while there will be change this summer, he wa adamant that the coach would be staying put. Holmgren was asked if coach John Stevens would return next season, and without hesitating, Holmgren said, "Yes."

That's it for your wandering blogger. Hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

-- Adam Kimelman

And it's a game again
April 25, 5:05 p.m.

The Flyers seemed to have control when they went up 3-0 on Danny Briere's goal, but a couple of pucks bouncing in the Penguins' direction has squared this game up.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored his first goal since the 2004 Stanley Cup winner when he shoved the puck under Martin Biron. Then a Simon Gagne cross-ice offensive-zone pass went off Rob Scuderi's stick, allowing the Penguins to break out of their end. Tyler Kennedy fired a shot past a sliding Kimmo Timonen and on net. Biron made the save, but left a rebound that Mark Eaton batted in to make it 3-2.

And at the end of the period came the strangest goal of the series. Bill Guerin threw the puck at the Flyers' goal from the left wall. The puck hit off Timonen's stick in front of the net, popped into air and hit off the heel of Biron's glove, where Sidney Crosby batted it into the net to tie the game and take all the air out of the sold-out crowd of 20,072.

The Penguins will be flying back to Pittsburgh; will the Flyers be jetting in behind them? We'll know soon enough.

-- Adam Kimelman

Late flurry puts Flyers ahead after one
April 25, 4:05 p.m.


The Penguins seemed to have the better of the play early in the first, but a pair of goals 51 seconds apart have the Flyers ahead 2-0 after 20 minutes.

Great play by Mike Richards to swipe the puck from Max Talbot in the Penguins' end to set up Mike Knuble's rebound goal. Then Claude Giroux and his magic hands threw a beautiful cross-ice pass to Joffrey Lupul, who ripped a wrist shot over Marc-Andre Fleury's glove.

It's early, but it looks like we'll be back in Pittsburgh for Game 7 on Monday.

-- Adam Kimelman

Lineups and more
April 25, 3:15 p.m.

Kris Letang is back in the for the Penguins, replacing Philippe Boucher. Boucher had a tough outing in Game 5, so it's not much of a surprise to see him back in the press box.

That's the only change for either team.

I do have to point your attention to a story in the Toronto Globe and Mail on Flyers scout John Champman making the save of the playoffs. I hope this hyperlink works; if not, do a search for John Chapman and Globe and Mail, and you should find. Chapman made the save of the playoff so far and you'll understand why after reading this story.

-- Adam Kimelman

Up and running again
April 25, 1:50 p.m.

First, an apology for the lack of blogs yesterday. It's not that I don't care about all you. Just had some computer issues that I couldn't get resolved.

And I know this is a hockey blog, but I have to say that I saw Ben Folds at the House of Blues in Atlantic City Saturday night, and it was hands-down the best concert I've ever seen. Great setting, incredible performer. If you don't know Ben Folds, he's a piano-based rock singer/songwriter. Great, fun music, great melodies, just really listenable stuff. If you have the chance, I would highly recommend his latest album, "Way Too Normal." Or an older release, "Whatever And Ever Amen." Great stuff.

So about this hockey game. Back in Philly for Game 6, and fans filling the Wachovia Center all are wearing their orange shirts, and I can hear a few drums and horns. I think Mike Knuble summed up the Philly fans the best when he called them a good obnoxious -- if you're the home team.

A few people have asked me how I see this series turning out, and after watching five games, I honestly can say I have no idea. The Flyers could come out and blow the Penguins off the ice and force Game 7, or the Penguins could score three times in the first 10 minutes of the game and clinch the series in easy fashion. Or it could go two or three overtimes.

About the only guarantee I can give is that it will be an entertaining game. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

More later with startings lineups and any changes.

-- Adam Kimelman

No goal -- and why
April 23, 8:30 p.m.

Here's why Evgeni Malkin's second-period goal was waved off on replay, right from the NHL Hockey Operations department in Toronto:

"Play was reviewed to determine if the puck had been kicked into the net by the Pittsburgh player … Review determined that the puck was propelled by a distinct kicking motion off Malkin’s skate and didn't not touch any stick before entering the ice  - no goal."

-- Adam Kimelman

Flyers staying alive
April 23, 8:15 p.m.

The Flyers had just five shots in the first period and went 15:09 between shots between the last 12:38 of the first and first 2:33 of the second, but they came out a bit faster in the second and got a goal from Arron Asham to take a 1-0 lead.

Daniel Carcillo crossed into the Penguins' end and dropped a pass for Asham, who wound up and fired from a stride inside the blue line. Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury looked a bit surprised, and the shot seemed to glance of his glove and into the net at 6:32 of the period.

More in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Paint it white
April 23, 7:15 p.m.


In Philadelphia they have the Orange Crush, and in Calgary it's the C of Red. Well, in Pittsburgh it's a white-out. Almost all the fans are wearing white T-shirts given out at the door.

Line change right off the bat for the Flyers, as Darroll Powe replaced Mike Knuble on a line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. Not a bad decision. Knuble has looked a step slow this series, while Powe has had great jump as part of the strong third line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.

We're underway here in Pittsburgh. Back in a while.

-- Adam Kimelman

Sykora out, Satan in
April 23, 12:45 p.m.

The biggest news from the morning skates are a pair of changes in the Penguins' lineup. Miro Satan will replace Petr Sykora at right wing on the Pens' second line, and Philippe Boucher comes in for Kris Letang on defense.

It's a surprise that the Penguins are the team making the changes, seeing as they're up 3-1 in the series, but Sykora has struggled mightily all four games, including a wide-open net in Game 4. Bylsma showed his cards a bit when he pulled Sykora off Malkin's line in Game 3, and played him just 8:21 in Game 4, the second-fewest of anyone on the team.

Meanwhile, the Flyers are feeling confident. They did everything they could to win Game 4 except beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who did his best concrete wall imitation. Should be interesting when the puck drops tonight. Flyers should be a desperate squad, but the Penguins have little interest in going back to Philadelphia. They've seen enough of that crowd.

Back with more later.

-- Adam Kimelman

Back in The Igloo
April 22, 2:30 p.m.

I know none of you cares about the trouble we sportswriters have getting to and from games -- you get free tickets, what do you have to complain about, etc., etc. I get it, but I do have to say a big, fat thanks for nothing to Southwest Airlines. My flight that was supposed to leave at 8:30 this morning didn't take off until 9:45, and by the time I got to my hotel in Pittsburgh, it was 11:30. Had I driven from Philly and left at 6 a.m., I would have been here by 10:30 or 10:45. So much for the "convenience" of flying.

But I digress.

Just got back from the Penguins practice, and a day later, the players remain incredulous at the 45-save performance Marc-Andre Fleury turned in in Game 4.

"What we did well, it came back to 29 (Fleury) pretty much throughout the game," said coach Dan Bylsma. "He was there making the big saves. When we had breakdowns, he had a coule big glove saves, guys in the slot, and just standing tall when the flurries were around him late in the game. That was a game our goaltender won for us."

The theme today was the Penguins needing to have the desperation the Flyers will have to win the series in their first opportunity. Sidney Crosby was asked if he thought Philadelphia could play any better than they did in Game 4.

"When your'e put in that situation, you'd be surprised what teams can do," he said.

Speaking of what Philadelphia did, Bylsma said the key for his team is to dictate play by keeping the puck in the Flyers' end.

"The key to doing well in hockey is you dictate the game, you force other teams into situations that they struggle in. Playing in the defensive zone for long periods of time, you get tired. ... The longer you play there, the more situations the other team is going to be put in peril. They did that to us. They did a great job of that. We can certainly do a much better job of doing that to them. I think in our building we did a pretty good job of that, and in their building they did a better job of that. The challenge is puck manangement, decisions we make at the line. We can do a  much better job of that. That helps us get to our game, and it prevents them from doing the same thing in the other end. There are things we can do better."

That's it from Mellon Arena. I'll be back with more news from the morning skates.

-- Adam Kimelman

2-0 after two
April 21, 8:55 p.m.

Great pass from Matt Cooke to Tyler Kennedy to set up the second goal. Then Kennedy made a nifty backhand-forehand move to score the goal.

The Pens have been a bit leaky defensively, but Marc-Andre Fleury has been sensational in net.

More from the third period.

-- Adam Kimelman

The goal stands -- here's why
April 21, 8:23 p.m.

Sidney Crosby's goal at 3:19 of the second period was allowed to stand, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Here's the reason from the Situation Room at NHL.com:

"Play was reviewed to determine if the puck was batted in by the glove of Pittsburgh forward Sidney Crosby... the review determined that the puck went off of Crosby's stick, then his body, there was no batting motion -- call on the ice for good goal stands."

-- Adam Kimelman


Back for the second
April 21, 8:15 p.m.

Scoreless first was pretty even. Pens coach Dan Bylsma bounced Sidney Crosby all over the place. Fellow NHL.com writer John McGourty counted seven different linemates for Crosby in the first period.

Game is scoreless, but I'm still not sure how Petr Sykora missed an open net in the first period. From his angle, right on the post, it almost seemed harder for him to miss from there than score.

Had a chance to talk to Pens GM Ray Shero about Flyers forward Scott Hartnell. Shero was assistant GM in Nashville when the Predators drafted Hartnell. Shero wouldn't talk about him too much, but what little he said was very complementary, and said he'd have even nicer things to say after the series.

Penguins appear to have just scored, but the puck took a weird bounce off Sidney Crosby and is under review. I'll have more when there's a decision.

-- Adam Kimelman

Changes
April 21, 7:10 p.m.

One change to the Pens' starting lineup -- coach Dan Bylsma is starting the game with a line of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko. Otherwise, he has the same lineup for the fourth straight game.

No changes for the Flyers.

The Wachovia Center is rocking. Puck drop coming up.

-- Adam Kimelman

Back again
April 21, 4 p.m.

Back at the Wachovia Center waiting for Game 4 to start. Some observations from this morning's skates:

* Penguins coach Dan Bylsma spoke very highly of his fourth line -- Max Talbot, Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams.

"This is a fourth line that can skate, can play physical and also can score. Some fouth lines, ones I played on, couldn’t score, didn't have the speed. Maybe we had the physical aspect or we were role players, but those guys are role players, they have speed, they can score the goal for you, they can grind it out, but they also can do it with speed. Pascal and Max, and certainly Craig Adams is a good skater, as well. For a fourth line they have a bunch of facets to their game."
they can add."

* Bylsma said he thought the Flyers weren't trying to match Jeff Carter on Sidney Crosby as they were trying to move his group away from Jordan Staal and his line. When asked if this was true, Bylsma replied, "You're asking facts about the game, not impressions," and whispered "They got him away."

"When we're home we get our matchups, we get the last change. They're at home, they made some adjustmets accordingly. It's a situation where Jordan Staal's line is focused on defending more at home rather than when it’s a straight third-line matchup."

* Flyers goalie Marty Biron has some fond memories of playing against the Penguins. His first NHL game, as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, was at Mellon Arena. He recalled Petr Nedved scoring on him on the first NHL shot he faced.

"He came in off the wing and the (defenseman) was chasing him, it was a half-breakaway. He pulled up and shot it quick right over (his blocker). I went down ... and it went under the crossbar."

Biron said he didn't know he was starting until the morning skate, when he and Steve Shields were stretching and trying to figure out who should take the first shots. Generally, the starting goalie goes first and then leaves. Shields knew Biron was starting, but Biron didn't.

Biron can -- and will -- talk all day, every day, even on days when he's supposed to start. Think whatever you will of his play, but Biron is a great guy to have in the locker room.

* Have to give credit to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Rob Rossi who nicknamed Chris Kunitz the Kunikaze. That's a great name.

More in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman


Changing it up
April 20, 4 p.m.

One of the small changes the Flyers made during Game 3 was to play Jeff Carter and his line against Sidney Crosby and his group. It's a big difference than past Flyers games, as Mike Richards always had drawn the primary duties against Crosby. 

The biggest difference is the sheer size of Carter vs. Crosby. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Carter has four inches on Crosby and the wingspan to go with it. And while Carter doesn't bring the overt physicality Richards does, he's strong enough in his own right.

"They'be both pretty similar," said Crosby. "Both are strong guys that play fairly physical. Richards is maybe a little more physical than Carter. Both are strong guys, big guys, so there's some similarities there. They're both good in both ends. Both dangersous offensively and defensively. They're solid."

The Flyers also were not too high after the win. As Martin Biron said, "In every game, it has to be mission accomplished." Meaning, each game is its own series; you won, now move on and do it again.

"My own personal feeling is that when you lose a game, make sure it doesn't carry too far and you have to be careful when you win a game you don't think you can rest now and it's going to be any easier," said coach John Stevens. "The next game is going to be the toughest game. They're going to try to get a split just like we were."

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow for Game 4.

-- Adam Kimelman

Back to work
April 20, 1:15 p.m.

The players are back at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia for practice today. The Flyers had an optional practice which about a half-dozen players partook in. Much of the talk afterward was about how they had to put the Game 3 win behind them and move forward. I'll have more of that in a story later on NHL.com.

The Penguins players are practicing now following a team meeting. Before the players went out, Matt Cooke and Evgeni Malkin went on the ice in sandals and shorts and played the oddest form of baseball I've ever seen. Cooke stood near the benches and catapulted the puck over his head to Malkin on the other side of the ice, who tried to smack it like a baseball. Then Malkin would do the same for Cooke. Not sure if they noticed, but the baseball stadium is on the other side of the complex down here in South Philadelphia.

More in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

It's a series again
April 19, 8:20 p.m.

The Flyers played their best game of the series, with emotion and physical but smart play.

Claude Giroux wasn't credited for a fight for his first-period dust-up with Tyler Kennedy, but the rookie center showed a good deal of feistiness in his third NHL playoff game.

"Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do," Giroux said. "There was a scrum there and I was with him and we just decided to go. It's part of hockey."

Jeff Carter, who enjoys interviews about as much as he likes root canal, said it best when he was asked about the contributions from people other than the top two forwards:

"Ross, first NHL goal, that was huge for us. Powe's been doing it all year, he's starting to chip in offensively for us now. If we're going to make any noise here we need those guys to keep going because we can't do it with just two lines."

They also had help from a raucous Wachovia Center; beside having the crowd on their side, the Flyers also were able to get the matchups they wanted, which included more of Jeff Carter's line playing against Sidney Crosby, rather than Mike Richards.

"We talked about that yesterday," said Carter. "That's what Johnny wanted, so that's what we did."

For the first time in the series, the Penguins lost the special teams battle, which Pens coach Dan Bylsma said was a big factor in his team losing. The Penguins went 1-for-5 on the power play after going 3-for-12 in the first two games. The Flyers went 1-for-10, but they're shorthanded goal was a huge one.

"I think  the key to every game -- the regualr season, the postseason, especially the postseason -- is special teams and we came out on the short end of that tonight," said Bylsma.

Both teams are ready to put Game 3 behind them and get ready for practice Monday and Game 4 Tuesday night.

"(Tonight) helps because it would have been 3-0 for them, so we're back in the series right now," said Claude Giroux. "We have to put this win behind us and get ready for next game."

"We have to regroup here and bear down here for the next one," said Sidney Crosby.

We'll be back tomorrow with all the news.

-- Adam Kimelman

We're through two
April 19, 5 p.m.


Claude Giroux is having a strong game. I wasn't a big believer in the whole Giroux-Forsberg comparisons that I read about a month ago, but that pass across to Gagne for the Flyers' fourth goal was a thing of Foppa-esque beauty.

Giroux also scored the series-saving goal earlier in the second. When the Pens tied the game on a great shot by Rob Scuderi 13 seconds into the second, the Flyers looked like they were about to completely fall apart.

But Darroll Powe, Danny Briere and Giroux made a nice rush into the Pens' end, and Briere slipped a sweet pass off the rebound of Powe's shot to Giroux, and he tucked it behind Marc-Andre Fleury at 4:32 of the period.

The Flyers, maybe for the first time in the series, dominated a period. If they keep that play up in the third, they're right back in this series.

-- Adam Kimelman

Best period of the series
April 19, 4:20 p.m.

I would have blogged sooner but I was afraid to look away from the ice because I thought I would miss something.

The tone for this game was set 17 seconds in when Dan Carcillo high-sticked Tyler Kennedy in the face and it wasn't called.

Jeff Carter was great in both ends of the ice for the opening goal, taking the puck away from a Pittsburgh player behind the Flyers' net, then taking a drop pass from Joffrey Lupul, making a pair of real nice moves and backhanding one past Marc-Andre Fleury 2:59 into the game -- on the Flyers' first shot.

Philadelphia's second resulted in their second goal. Mike Richards' shot from the right corner went off Craig Adams and past Fleury for a power-play goal.

Thirty seconds after that, Chris Kunitz threw a flying elbow at Kimmo Timonen -- remember, it was Kunitz's hit on Timonen in the first period of Game 1 that left the All-Star defenseman with a charley horse. Scott Hartnell chased Kunitz down and when the pair squared off, Hartnell dropped Kunitz with one quick punch.

Another 30 seconds later more came more brutality. Claude Giroux Giroux was called for elbowing Mark Eaton. During the delayed penalty, Jordan Staal elbowed Darroll Powe in the head, and Powe retaliated by fighting Kris Letang, while Giroux squared off with Kennedy.

The Penguins' scored with 11.7 seconds left when coach Dan Bylsma put Max Talbot out with the Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko. Talbot buried Braydon Coburn in the back boards chasing a puck. The biscuit bounced to Fedotenko, who passed across to Malkin, who buried a one-timer for his third goal of the series.

Flyers lead 2-1, but they had just two shots until the final 5:56 of the period. A great 20 minutes of hockey. Second period is about to start. Back with more in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Carcillo in, Sbisa out
April 19, 3:15 p.m.


Daniel Carcillo back in for Game 3 after sitting out Game 2 due to suspension. That means rookie Luca Sbisa goes back to the press box.

Penguins lineup remains the same, meaning Eric Godard, Miroslav Satan and Philippe Boucher remain out.

Pens will start the Staal-Cooke-Kenney line against the Flyers' trio of Carcillo, Darroll Powe and Arron Asham. Yes, Carcillo will start the game.

-- Adam Kimelman

Back in the East ... of Pennsylvania
April 19, 3:05 p.m.


Sorry for the delay in blogs. Bill Guerin's overtime winner late Friday night was followed by a five-hour

cross-state drive Saturday afternoon and some quality family time Saturday night.

But here we are at the lovely Wachovia Center, waiting for Game 3 to get started.

Some news coming out of Saturday's practices:

* Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen is a pretty mild-mannered guy, but he's been pretty outspoken in this series. He yapped at the referees loud enough to earn himself a game-misconduct at the end of Game 2. And Friday after the game, he talked about the different way the on-ice officials are treating the Flyers vs. the Penguins.

"I didn't see the refs yelling at thir bench at all," said Timonen. "Not one time. And I could see them comng over to our bench a few times. ... It makes you wonder why."

On Saturday, he continued his rant -- well, low-key discussion, which is about as loud as Timonen ever gets.

"You see (Sidney) Crosby and these guys going to the refs and talk ign to them," said Timonen. "It looks like they talk to them back, and when we go talk to them they yell at us."

* The Penguins had a giant screen erected outside Mellon Arena for fans who couldn't get tickets could watch the game. They won't have that opportunity for Game 3, though. NBC, which will televise the game nationally, won't allow the Pens to show the game on the big screen.

"We love putting the screen outside for our fans, but obviously we'll abide by NBC's decision," Penguins vice-president of communications Tom McMillan told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "Tuesday night we'll be back again with the screen for the FSN broadcast."

According to the newspaper, an NBC spokesman had no comment.

NBC Sports has a policy that does not allow any sports teams to show their broadcasts on arena screens. NBC also will carry Game 6 on April 25 - if necessary - which will not be shown on the big screen.

* Last year against the Penguins in the conference finals, the Flyers trailed 0-2. This year, despite being in the same hole, they feel a little bit better.

"Last year we looked a little tired, I think," said Kimmo Timonen, who sat out all but the final game in that series due to a blood clot in his ankle. "They looked a little fresher.

"This year, I thought we've palyed well -- we had a chance to put (Game 2) away."

* Priceless quote from Sergei Gonchar in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Evgeni Malkin moved out of Gonchar's home about three months ago. When asked if things are different around the Gonchar house since the League's leading scorer left, Gonchar said no.

"He moved out and my wife delivered anohter baby. So one baby is out and another is in."

Puck drop should be about 3:15 p.m. Back with any lineup changes in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

A little history
April 17, 9:55 p.m.

Just realized the last time the Flyers and Penguins played an overtime playoff game in Pittsburgh. It was May 4, 2000. Keith Primeau scored in the fifth overtime to give the Flyers a 2-1 victory.

Five overtimes. And I have to drive from Pittsburgh to Philly sometime Saturday. I'm hoping someone can channel Marty Havlat.

-- Adam Kimelman

Heading to overtime
April 17, 9:40 p.m.

Jordan Staal draws a hooking penalty on Jeff Carter. On the ensuing power play, Evgeni Malkin and Bill Guerin camp in front of the Flyers' net. Kris Letang fires a shot from the point that tips off Malkin and gets past Martin Biron at 16:23 of the period.

The Penguins played in two overtime game in last year's playoffs, winning both, including the triple-overtime thriller in Game 5 of last year's Cup Final.

The Flyers went 2-1 in overtime games last spring, highlighted by their Game 7 first-round win in Washington.

-- Adam Kimelman

Flower in bloom
April 17, 9:20 p.m.

Save of the series just made by Marc-Andre Fleury. Flyers have a two-on-one in close. Joffrey Lupul's shot is blocked and rolls through the crease to Jeff Carter. Carter had an open net, but Fleury somehow got across to deny the League's second-leading goal scorer with his right toe with 8:33 left.

-- Adam Kimelman

Mr. Princeton puts Flyers ahead
April 17, 9:10 p.m.

Darroll Powe might be the smartest player on the team, but he just made his coach look like a genius.

The Princeton graduate was moved up to the third line as a reward for his strong play in Game 1. Taking a drop pass from Claude Giroux, his wrist shot got through Marc-Andre Fleury early in the third to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

-- Adam Kimelman

All tied up
April 17, 8:40 p.m.

Two old guys fighting for the puck along the wall,  Bill Guerin took it away from Mike Knuble. The puck rolls to Sidney Crosby who springs Evgeni Malkin on the breakout. Malkin crosses the puck to Guerin on the left side and he fires a wrister over Marty Biron's blocker.

-- Adam Kimelman


Crash-bang first period
April 17, 7:50 p.m.

Fitting end to first period, as a near melee broke out as the period ended. The Pens have continued to target Kimmo Timonen. Scott Hartnell was nearby and came to his aid, as did Braydon Coburn. The Pens jumped in to defend their teammates, and more pushing and shoving ensued. Order finally was restored, and it looked like Hartnell and referee Bill McCreary were doing more than comparing after-game dinner sites as both skated toward their separate exits at the far end of the ice.

1-0 Flyers after one. More later.

-- Adam Kimelman

Great plays all around
April 17, 7:40 p.m.


Flyers score game's first goal. Scott Hartnell digs the puck out of a pile and sends it out to the right point. Braydon Coburn makes a great play to stretch and keep the puck at the line, one-touching it to Matt Carle. Carle's slapper tipped in by Hartnell in front.

Flyers seem to have found their legs, but Pens are generating the bulk of the scoring chances.

-- Adam Kimelman

Familar looking game
April 17, 7:25 p.m.


First whistle seven minutes into the game. Again, Penguins look like the faster team, initiang the play and pushing the Flyers right off the ice.

Penguins are hitting everything that moved. Kimmo Timonen got double-teamed in the corner by Bill Guerin and Sidney Crosby and knocked on his face. Chris Kunitz leveled Simon Gagne.

Outside of the physical play, this game reminds me of every Flyers-Pens game from 2006-07. You can check the records for some of those results.

-- Adam Kimelman

Starting lineups
April 17, 7:10 p.m.

Flyers -- Hartnell-Carter-Lupul up front, Coburn and Carle on defense, Biron in net
Penguins -- Cooke-Staal-Kennedy up front, Gill and Scuderi on defense, Fleury in net

Same lineup for the Pens, which means Eric Godard, Philippe Boucher and Miro Satan are scratches.

Luca Sbisa replaces the suspended Dan Carcillo in the Flyers' lineup.

Puck drops momentarily.

-- Adam Kimelman

Numbers don't lie
April 17, 6:55 p.m.

How important is this game for the Flyers? The team is 27-7 in series when winning Game 2, 6-19 after losing Game 2.

Back with starting lineups in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Letang growing, improving
April 17, 2:10 p.m.


Last year, Kris Letang made a huge impact on the Penguins' blue line early in the season, but wore down in the playoffs and was a healthy scratch for the last four games of the Stanley Cup Final.

It doesn't seem like anything close to that will happen again. Coach Dan Bylsma has been very happy with Letang's play since he took over as coach, and is seeing just what he wants to see from his 21-year-old offensive-minded defenseman.

Bylsma said after Friday's morning practice that he believes getting benched last year has made Letang the quality player he is today.

"I think the past expeiernece is invaluable, especially as a young player, especially at that position," said Bylsma. "Defense is difficult to play, and as a young defneseman is even more difficult. A part of his maturation process is he's more experienced, he played in more stuations, played on the power play very heavily. And he's got 80 games under his belt since that circumstance. He's spent a year putting that behind him and learning and getting better and growing and I think you're seeing that. We've played pretty close to playoff hockey for the last 20 games. We've been on life support and looking at the standings. He's played some tough hockey, and certainly Game 1 was a higher level of intensity and emotion. I'm confident he's a long way from a year ago."

There's not much else to talk about from the Penguins. Bylsma is keeping things pretty secretive, but it would be a surprise if there were any lineup changes.

Time to take a break. I'll be back when the game starts.

-- Adam Kimelman

Sbisa, Timonen in, Jones back
April 17, 1:45 p.m.

With Daniel Carcillo out for Game 2, rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa will move up to play left wing on the fourth line. Sbisa played some forward during his 39-game stint with the Flyers earlier this season, prior to his return to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Western Hockey League.

It wasn't the conventional choice, but coach John Stevens obviously has more faith in the 19-year-old Sbisa, who will be the youngest player to see playoff action this season, than minor-league forwards like Jonathan Kalinski or Andreas Nodl, both of whom saw action for the Flyers during the regular season.

"With Kalinski and Nodl, we have a lot of trust in those guys as players," said Stevens. "They've come up and played well. But we look at Luca as a guy that's on our team, a guy that's spent half the year with our team that's got experience over half the season. He's a fresh player that gives us size and the ability to move him to the back end if there is a need. We think he's a good fit for the situation."

Not sure what Sbisa thinks -- he left the building before speaking with the media.

Kimmo Timonen and Randy Jones will be in the lineup for Game 2. Timonen hasn't skated in two days, but Stevens said the All-Star blueliner is feeling OK after he suffered a charley horse in his left leg in the first period of Game 1.

Jones returned to the team after a death in the family. He didn't come to Mellon Arena for the club's optional skate this morning, but he will play tonight.

The only other lineup change is Darroll Powe moving to the third line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux. Stevens tried that trio in practice Thursday and obviously liked what he saw.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma had some nice things to say about defenseman Kris Letang after practice this morning. That and more from the Penguins' locker room in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Stevens explains fine
April 17, 1:30 p.m.

Flyers coach John Stevens talked about being fined $10,000 by the NHL on Thursday. The League plans on enforcing a rule against message-sending at the end of playoff games, and opted to suspend Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo for Game 2 Friday night, as well as hold Stevens responsible for sending Carcillo on the ice.

Stevens obviously wasn't happy, but obviously he's moved past it.

"First of all, I had to call my son John this morning, he turned 15 today," Stevens said at the post-practice press conference. "I told him I had to take all his gifts back, we can't afford them any more. He's a little upset."

Stevens then explained his rationale behind putting Carcillo -- the NHL's penalty-minutes leader for a second-straight season -- on the ice for the final six seconds of the game.

"That situation, obviously discipline was an issue that game. They had a five-on-three (power play), and from my perspective on the bench, (Bill) Guerin bull-rushed (Braydon) Coburn. Coburn is a character kid and he fights for his team and he'll stand up for himself, which I'm not surprised he did in that situation. Billy Guerin is a tough, gritty guy. My interpretation of that from that point was, I think Guerin is going to play against Coburn a lot in this series and he's probably trying to send a message, so I put Danny out there. Faceoff is in the neutral zone, I didn't want anybody taken advantage of, didn't want anything stupid happening here, and let's just get through the six seconds left in the game. That was my thinking on the bench at that time. I was a little surprised to see a fight that late in the game when they're up five-on-three, especially with Coburn involved. My thinking as a coach at that point was put somebody out there who's not going to get taken advantage of and get through the six seconds. Obviously it didn't turn out that way. The League acted on it, and just like the Flyers always do, we took our punishment and we move on. That's that. The standard has been set and we'd like to see some consistency on that call the rest of the way."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he was happy the League acted the way it did.

"We all had a phone conversation addressing the situations that might arrive in the playoffs and that was one of the situations. They dealt with it like they said they would. I'm happy to see they followed through on their word."

I'll have some on the Flyers' lineup changes for tonight's game in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Carcillo gets one game, and other news
April 16, 6:30 p.m.

The Flyers just confirmed a TSN report that Daniel Carcillo will be suspended for one game for an incident with the Pens' Max Talbot in the waning seconds of Game 1 on Wednesday.

I'll have more on NHL.com in a bit, including quotes from Carcillo and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

In other news:

* After what Commissioner Bettman said about Pittsburgh becoming such a strong hockey market comes this news -- Wednesday's game got a 14.7 rating on FSN Pittsburgh, the ninth-highest rated Penguins playoff game of all time.

"The record ratings again last night are another affirmation that Pittsburgh is truly a hockey town," Ted Black, Senior Vice President/General Manager of FSN Pittsburgh, said in a press release.

* One are the Pens soundly beat the Flyers was in the faceoff circle. The Penguins won 38 of 59 faceoffs (64 percent), including 12 of 20 special teams draws (7-for-12 on power-play faceoffs). Jordan Staal won 11 of 14, Sidney Crosby won 12 of 16, and Max Talbot won 8 of 14. Biggest culprits for the Flyers were Jeff Carter, who won just three of 18, and Mike Richards, who went 4-for-14.

"Faceoffs for sure is a concern," said Flyers coach John Stevens. "We didn't do very well in the faceoff circle, and that's obviously a factor on special teams, it obviously was a factor on the fourth goal. You end up starting without possession in either zone, it makes it more difficult."

* While the Flyers played undisciplined hockey in Game 1, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was proud of how his team kept its composure, especially forward Matt Cooke, who caught a stick in the face but didn't retaliate.

"The emotions are ramped way up, and you’re charged up, the crowd is charged up, and when you take what you deem to be a cheap shot or a dirty hit, it's tough," said Bylsma. "Cookie was charged up and he did a good job of getting his emotions in check before he went back on the ice, but that's a part of playoff hockey. You can feel it sitting in the stands, you can feel it on the bench. … The emotions are there and they are right on your sleeve. It's a challenge to keep them in check and keep your intensity level focused on the task at hand and to not cross over the line. It's something you have to continually focus on in order to play with an edge."

* Chris Kunitz is far from a dirty player, and there was no malicious intent on his first-period hit that left Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen with a charley horse in his left leg that slowed the All-Star blueliner all game. Timonen said Wednesday he expected Kunitz to hit him; Kunitz said Thursday that's good, because he had no intent on stopping.

"He plays the majority of their minutes," said Kunitz. "We're not going to pass up any body checks on anybody, doesn't matter who it is. We want to finish our checks. We're not going to go out of our way and try to hit somebody, but if they're there and they just delivered the puck, we're going to try to finish them and make it harder for them to get up ice, get into the play and create rushes for their really gifted forwards."

* Stevens told the media he wasn't sure what he would do to replace Daniel Carcillo for Game 2. He said one option is playing rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa at forward, something he did earlier in the season.

"Sbisa played up front a little bit there and did a great job," said Stevens. "He's a pretty versatile guy."

-- Adam Kimelman



All quiet on the Pittsburgh front
04.16.2009  1 P.M. ET.

Not much news to report from the Penguins' skate. I guess that's what happens when you feel as comfortable as they should following their Game 1 win.

Craig Adams had his son Rhys in the dressing room. The 20-month-old was swinging an inflatable hockey stick and then chasing a puck around the players' lounge with dad and Jordan Staal. Bill Guerin also stopped by to chat with the little guy.

Rob Scuderi lost the daily end-of-practice shootout game when Brooks Orpik scored and Scuderi missed his last shot.

It's a neat thing they do, and coach Dan Bylsma and assistant Tom Fitzgerald take part.

Flyers are about to take the ice. I'll have more after they skate.

-- Adam Kimelman

In-between days
04.16.2009 10 A.M.  ET

Just had a chance to go over my notes from last night's game, and I wanted to make two updates.

* Kimmo Timonen suffered a charley horse in his left leg on the first shift of the game when Chris Kunitz rammed into him. He managed to play 21:32, but when asked if the injury hindered him the rest of the game, he replied, "A lot."

Timonen, the Flyers' best defenseman and most indispensible player, said he should be fine for Friday's Game 2. He didn't think it was a dirty play on Kunitz's part.

"I tried to move away and his knee came straight to my leg," said Timonen. "He was trying to hit me every time. I knew he was coming. It happens."

* Speaking of Kunitz, his wife Maureen gave birth to a baby boy, the couple's first child. Zachary James Kunitz was born early Wednesday; Kunitz skipped Wednesday's morning practice to be with the family.

The Penguins will be on the ice at 11 a.m. today; the Flyers will follow at 1 p.m. I'll have all the coverage right here at NHL.com.

-- Adam Kimelman

Two periods down, one to go
04/15/09 9:00 P.M. ET

We've got 20 minutes left in Game 1 here in Pittsburgh, and it's looking awfully good for the home side. Pittsburgh has ratcheted up the pace and is skating right past the Flyers.

Sidney Crosby scored a power-play goal early in the first, Tyler Kennedy added a score 1:39 into the second, and that's where we stand.

The only positive for the Flyers has been the play of goalie Martin Biron, who's kept his team in the game.

The Flyers' offensive depth has been non-existent. In fact, the Penguins' line of Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Kennedy has nine shots through two periods, the same as the Flyers' big-six 25-goal scorers.

The third is under way; back with more later.

-- Adam Kimelman

Sign of the night
04/15/09 7:15 P.M. ET

Just noticed a tremendous sign hanging from the upper deck façade at Mellon Arena:

THE FLYERS ARE LIKE THE TITANIC: THEY BOTH LOOK GOOD UNTIL THEY HIT THE ICE!

Bonus points to the sign-makers for having on the day of the 97th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking -- April 15, 1912.

-- Adam Kimelman


Flyers' Canadian contingent is key to Cup run
04/15/09 7:10 P.M. ET

The Flyers are a team Don Cherry would be proud of -- 15 Canadians see regular playing time on this spring's edition of the Broad Street Bullies, including Philadelphia's top five scorers. Combine this with the fact that Philadelphia was the League's most heavily penalized team in 2008-09, and it leads to a squad Grapes will be touting throughout the playoffs.

This amalgamation of skill and toughness is a Canadian hallmark and harkens back to the days of Howe, Shore and Lindsay -- only this season the names are Richards, Carter and Hartnell.  With 106 goals and 274 penalty minutes among the trio, they are the driving force behind the Flyers' attack and a nightmare for the Pittsburgh defense.

They also make this team incredibly fun to watch -- the hitting, scoring and toughness make for an entertaining and successful team.  Pit them against two of the most-skilled forwards in the league in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and this is a series and team this Don Cherry fan and fellow Canadian can get behind. I suggest you do, too.

-- Deven Persaud

The end is here
04.15.2009, 2:30 p.m. ET

I figured this would be a better place to relate my conversation with Derian Hatcher this morning.

First, a personal note -- I wrote during Hatcher's first season with the Flyers that his signing was a monumental mistake and the team needed to look into buying him out. He was slow, committed far too many penalties and wasn't cut out for the new, open-style of play coming out of the lockout.

My opinion changed, though, the night of Oct. 28, 2006, an 8-2 loss to the Penguins. Hatcher went minus-3 and committed a penalty that led to a fourth goal. For a player who's been an All-Star, a Norris Trophy finalist and the only American-born player to captain a team to a Stanley Cup, it was the ultimate embarrassment. But rather than hide in the training room or avoid the media, Hatcher stood at his locker, answered all questions, and never used his dying right knee as an excuse. It showed class and grace that all players should subscribe to, and it made me a Hatcher fan.

That brings us to the 2008-09 season. Hatcher knew it was a long shot he would play this season, but he went full-bore on rehabbing his knee every day. In December, though, he realized it just wasn't going to happen.

"I talked to (GM) Paul (Holmgren) all summer about my knee. I thought for a while I could probably come back. My knee was feeling well and I think we had plans to rehab it and see what happens. Sometime around Christmas time it really went for the worst on me. I think after that it was pretty much it."

Hatcher knows his playing days are over, but said he'll wait until July 1 to make it official. Knowing he'll never play a game again is tough, but the reality of his knee -- he told me he's a strong candidate for a full knee replacement in the not-too-distant future -- made it an easy decision.

"It's just a matter that my knee can't do it. I've lost a ton of muscle mass and it's constantly swollen. It's just a matter of I can't do it and I've come to terms with it.

"Between talking to the doctors and going out there and skating and trying to rehab, you know. Anytime I apply a lot of pressure on it, it just doesn't work right, so you know. Coming to the end is never easy, but it was kind of an easy decision from the way my knee felt."

Now he'll try coaching and see how that goes. When asked what his job duties entailed, he said basically just hang out with the guys, and watch games and point out things he sees to the coaches.

"I'm not in a high-pressure situation," he joked.

-- Adam Kimelman

What a comedian
04.15.2009 / 11:45 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- If anyone is wondering if there're nerves on the Penguins' side, Matt Cooke defused that. While Petr Sykora was being interviewed by a scrum of reporters, Cooke snuck up behind a camera man and pulled one of his cords. Apparently, that wasn't Cooke's first victim.

The other big news out of the morning skate was the absence of forward Chris Kunitz. Coach Dan Bylsma said there's no injury; Kunitz's wife went into labor late last night and he's at the hospital with the family. He also said Kunitz will be in the lineup tonight.

More to come following the Flyers' skate

-- Adam Kimelman

On the west coast of Pennsylvania
04.15.2009 / 10:30 AM ET

Welcome to Pittsburgh!

I drove from Philadelphia to the far end of the Keystone State in just under five rainy hours last night, but I'm just setting up at the Igloo for the morning skates. The Penguins will be hitting the ice at 10:30 a.m., and the Flyers will be out about 11:30 a.m.

I missed out on the big party last year at the Stanley Cup Final, so this is my first introduction to Mellon Arena, and the place definitely looks its age. Although it is pretty cool to see the Consol Energy Center going up right across the street.

Well, I'm going to grab a seat near the ice to watch all the fun of the skate, and I'll be back with more in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Quote of the Day

It's a little different but it feels amazing. A new chapter in my life and I'm excited. It's been amazing. Better than I expected. The weather is great, the place is just amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. I'm glad to get the season going.

— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks