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Penguins vs Flyers - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Jagr expects to play next season, focuses on playoffs

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- With Game 1 still several hours away, Jaromir Jagr was reluctantly fielding questions about his future Wednesday morning.

Jagr, 40, re-affirmed his desire to play next season, but he wouldn't give an answer about where even though he has nothing but tremendous things to say about the Flyers organization and his time in Philadelphia so far.

"Stop talking about myself," Jagr said with a smile. "After playoffs is over then we can talk about stuff like that. Right now there are a lot more important things than me."

Bylsma expects results to trump circus

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"Everybody hates everybody and it's going to make for good games and it'll be a good show for the fans. The boys are pretty excited." -- Claude Giroux

PITTSBURGH -- Dan Bylsma raised his eyebrows and said he was surprised the question he was about to answer referred only to the last couple of weeks.

"Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been called names in this rivalry and against this team for a long time," Bylsma said. "Most of the nicknames for Sidney Crosby have originated out of Philly. But, frankly, the start of the series I think makes it go away. It's about playing hockey now."

Bylsma's assessment could be true, but that's not usually how it works in the Battle of Pennsylvania, which might be more intense than it has ever been with Game 1 of the latest chapter in the in-state rivalry set to get under way Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Pens own big edge in experience over Flyers

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Nearly half of the Pittsburgh Penguins not only have extensive playoff experience, but have lifted the Stanley Cup. By comparison, nearly one-quarter of those on the Philadelphia Flyers' postseason roster are rookies.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Pascal Dupuis, Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy, Craig Adams, Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz all were on the team when the Penguins defeated Detroit in a seven-game Stanley Cup Final in 2009. Among them, they have hundreds of games of big-game experience.

Which raises this question: Will that experience edge be a factor in the Flyers-Penguins Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series that begins Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center?

While coach Peter Laviolette doesn't believe it's a disadvantage that the Flyers will be counting on six rookies, Orpik can't help but think back to his first playoff series in 2007.

Then, the Penguins fell behind Ottawa 2-0 in the opening minutes and went on to lose 6-3 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. The tone for the series was set in that game, and the Senators went on to win in five games.

After a long wait, Crosby ready for postseason

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 37
SOG: 75 | +/-: 15

PITTSBURGH -- The wait of Sidney Crosby's life is nearly over.

He persevered for exactly 700 days just for this. He endured the worst injury of his career, and a frustratingly long and uncertain recovery from it. He dealt with the heartache of a long-anticipated but discouragingly short comeback, then the lengthy wait and uncertainty that preceded his next return.

Throughout his long breaks away from the sport he loves and, quite frequently, he dominates, there was this thought in the back of his mind: "If only I can return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs ..."

To players like Crosby, the playoffs are more than where the Stanley Cup is pursued, fought over and finally won during two months filled with equal measures of joy and unhappiness, stamina and setbacks, pain and gain. They are where legends are created, Hall of Fame careers are cemented, dynasties are born and where they die, where the very good separate themselves from the good, where the great rise above the rest.

Flyers' Talbot adds offense after moving East

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Maxime Talbot
Center - PHI
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 34
SOG: 115 | +/-: 5

VOORHEES, N.J. -- When he left the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Philadelphia Flyers in July, Maxime Talbot was already preparing for something like this to happen.

Talbot, who spent his first six NHL seasons in Pittsburgh and won a Stanley Cup there in 2009, will face his old team in arguably the most anticipated first-round series of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"As soon as I signed here I had a feeling it would happen," Talbot said following the team's practice Tuesday. "It's something the hockey gods do."

It's been a season to remember in many ways for Talbot. He signed a five-year deal with the Flyers in July, and in his first game back in Pittsburgh, on Dec. 29, he scored an empty-net goal in the Flyers' 4-2 win.

Dupuis reinvents game to assume scoring role

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Hockey players commonly are creatures of habit. They like taking their game-day nap at the same time, eating the same pregame meal, going through the same locker-room ritual, relying on the same type of stick, glove or helmet.

Once they develop a signature shot or move, they frequently stay loyal to it for an entire career, save for a tweak here or a wrinkle there. It's a why-mess-with-success mentality, and adhering to a regimen can result in a long, productive career -- as long as a player doesn't get too locked into his ways.

Then there's Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, who didn't hesitate to reinvent his game in his early 30s, or at the very time when many players are peaking -- or are peeking from the outside looking in, wondering where their careers went.

Dupuis was viewed as a strong penalty killer and complementary scorer, but not a top-line player when he arrived in Pittsburgh in the Marian Hossa trade late in the 2007-08 season. He found a niche with one of the NHL's most talented teams, totaling 12 goals and 16 assists during the Stanley Cup-winning season in 2008-09, but he failed to get a point in 16 playoff games and sometimes was a healthy scratch by coach Dan Bylsma.

Going to training camp a few months later, his first since Bylsma took over in February 2009, Dupuis -- at age 30 -- knew he was at a critical stage of his career. He was convinced he could play a bigger role, even given the Penguins' wealth of scoring talent, but he also understood it would require him to change his game.

Why Philadelphia will win the Cup

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

With their scoring depth and improved play in net, the Philadelphia Flyers have all the elements needed to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 37 years.

The Big Why: The Flyers attack with size, speed and skill across all four forward lines. They had four players with at least 20 goals, and eight with at least 15 this regular season.

Why Pittsburgh will win the Cup

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The animosity aimed at the Pittsburgh Penguins has been quite clear as of late. They are not very well-liked.

However, the fear the rest of the NHL has when it plays the Penguins is also quite clear. They are one of the deepest and most talented teams in the League, a team with the tools to win the Stanley Cup for the second time since 2009.

The Big Why: To fully comprehend why Pittsburgh can win the Stanley Cup, go down the list of what a team needs to win a championship and count how many check marks are next to the Penguins name.

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