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Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Storylines

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Firepower: The Flyers have scored four or more goals six times in their 12 playoff games, scoring four goals on four occasions and six goals on two others. The Penguins have scored four goals or more on five occasions in their nine playoff games, scoring four goals twice and five goals three times.


Umberger
Hometown Flavor: This series will feature two players born in Pittsburgh: the Flyers' R.J. Umberger and the Penguins' Ryan Malone.

Low Mileage:
The Penguins haven't played outside the Eastern time zone since a Dec. 8 game in Vancouver. The Flyers haven't played outside the Eastern time zone since a Dec. 7 game in Denver.

"Second Six" Matchup: The Flyers and Penguins entered the NHL as part of its first major expansion, when it doubled in size to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season. These teams have met three previous times in the playoffs and the Flyers have won all three -- most recently the six-game Eastern Conference Semifinal in 2000.

Both Sides Now: Penguins GM Ray Shero was 11 years old in 1974 when the Flyers started their two-year reign as Stanley Cup champions behind the coaching of Ray's legendary father, Fred.

A Hard Day's Night: The longest playoff game in Penguins history ended at 12:01 of the fifth overtime on a goal by Philadelphia's Keith Primeau on May 4, 2000.

Previously Preds: Pittsburgh wing Adam Hall is an alumnus of the Nashville Predators, as are Flyers Scott Hartnell, Scottie Upshall and Kimmo Timonen. Philadelphia's Ryan Parent was a 2005 first-round pick by Nashville but did not make an NHL appearance with the club prior to his acquisition by the Flyers in February 2007.

Things Are Looking Up: The Flyers were last overall in the NHL last season with 56 points; the Penguins were 29th overall with 58 points in 2005-06. In each case, the team won just 22 games and surrendered more than 300 goals. In 2003-04, the Penguins were 30th overall with 23 victories, 58 points and more than 300 goals against.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

NHL Playoff Appearance: 32nd (first since 2005-06)
Stanley Cups: 2 (1974, 1975)
Last Stanley Cup Final Appearance: 1997
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 38-29
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 188-170
How They Got Here: Defeated Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Conference Quarter-Final; defeated Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in Conference Semifinal.

KEY DATES

Oct. 4/07 -- Prized free agent acquisition C Daniel Briere scored two goals, including the breakaway winner late in third period, as the Flyers opened the season with a 3-2 victory at Calgary.

Dec. 11/07 -- RW Joffrey Lupul and C R.J. Umberger each recorded hat tricks, with Lupul adding three assists for a career-high six points, in an 8-2 victory over Pittsburgh. It marked the first time since Mar. 7, 1985 that two Flyers recorded hat tricks in the same game (Tim Kerr and Dave Poulin).

Feb. 19/08 -- The Flyers obtained D Jaroslav Modry from Los Angeles for a 3rd-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft.

Briere
Feb. 25/08 -- The Flyers snapped a 10-game winless slide with a 4-3 comeback victory at Buffalo. The Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit for the win, capped by former Sabre Daniel Briere scoring the decisive goal in the shootout.

March 15/08 -- C Mike Richards scored in his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for nine games in a 3-2 overtime loss at Boston. The Flyers went 5-2-2 without their leading scorer.

FLYERS STORYLINES

The Team Builder: Since he was named interim general manager in November 2006, GM Paul Holmgren has made a number of moves to bolster the Flyers' roster:

Feb. 15, 2007: Acquired LW Scottie Upshall, D Ryan Parent and Nashville's 1st- and 3rd-round picks in the 2007 Entry Draft from Nashville for C Peter Forsberg.
Feb. 24, 2007: Acquired D Braydon Coburn from Atlanta for D Alexei Zhitnik.
Feb. 27, 2007: Acquired G Martin Biron from Buffalo for Philadelphia's 2nd-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft.
June 18, 2007: Acquired D Kimmo Timonen and LW Scott Hartnell from Nashville for a 1st-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft.
July 1, 2007: Signed C Daniel Briere.
July 1, 2007: Acquired D Jason Smith and RW Joffrey Lupul from Edmonton for D Joni Pitkanen, LW Geoff Sanderson and a 3rd-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft.
Oct. 3, 2007: Signed C Jim Dowd.
Feb. 19, 2008: Acquired D Jaroslav Modry from Los Angeles for a 3rd-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft.
Feb. 22, 2008: Claimed LW Patrick Thoresen on waivers on Edmonton.
Feb. 25, 2008: Acquired LW Vaclav Prospal from Tampa Bay for D Alexandre Picard and a conditional pick (second or third round) in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Historic Playoff Improvement: Since the playoffs expanded to four rounds for the 1979-80 season, only the Detroit Red Wings finished with the worst record in the NHL one season and then reached the third round of the playoffs the next year. They finished last overall in 1985-86, then reached the Conference Finals in 1987 (where they lost to Edmonton in five games).

Over the same time span (since 1979-80): No NBA team has gone that far in the playoffs one season after finishing with the worst record in the league . . . In MLB, the Atlanta Braves had the worst record in the majors in 1990 and reached the World Series in 1991 (where they lost to the Minnesota Twins in seven games), but they needed to win only one playoff series to get there (the NLCS) . . . No NFL team has gone three rounds deep one year after finishing with the worst record.

Regular-Season Improvement: The Flyers finished the 2007-08 regular season with 95 points (42-29-11), a 39-point improvement over 2006-07 (22-48-12, 56 points). They were the NHL's most improved club, ahead of Washington (+24), Boston (+18), Chicago (+17), Edmonton (+17) and Phoenix (+16). The Flyers also made the League's biggest defensive turnaround from last season. The team reduced its goals-against by 70 from 303 in 2006-07 to 233 in 2007-08.

Biron
Biron: Flyers G Martin Biron on his first-ever Stanley Cup overtime game (a 4-3 victory against Washington in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-final): "It’s like that [tension] the whole game. In overtime it is just amplified by 10. You do not want to make any mistakes, especially as a goalie because one mistake could mean the game. It was my first time playing in an overtime game in the playoffs and it was fun. The pace of the game is so high and stakes of the game are so high. It just felt like it flew by."

Welcome to Stanley in Philly: Six members of the Flyers – goaltender Martin Biron, defenseman Braydon Coburn and forwards Riley Cote, Lasse Kukkonen, Ryan Parent, Patrick Thoresen made their NHL playoffs debuts on April 11. That contest also marked the first playoff game as Flyers for Daniel Briere, Jim Dowd, Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul, Jaroslav Modry, Jason Smith, Kimmo Timonen and Scottie Upshall.

Quite a debut: The Flyers' Mike Richards is one of only two players in NHL history to record his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal on a penalty shot (Wayne Connolly, Minnesota in 1968).

Experience counts: The Flyers have three players who have won Stanley Cups: Jim Dowd (with New Jersey in 1995), Derian Hatcher (with Dallas in 1999) and Mike Knuble (with Detroit in 1998). The 39-year old Dowd is the fourth-oldest player still competing in the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs behind Detroit’s Chris Chelios (46) and Dominik Hasek (43) and Pittsburgh’s Gary Roberts (41). Dowd: "I was fortunate to come up with New Jersey with guys like (John) MacLean, (Ken) Daneyko and (Claude) Lemieux. When you lost, there weren’t smiles until you won again. It carried through to the playoffs. When the playoffs rolled around, it was the way they went about their business. It was, ‘Hey, this is it. There is no tomorrow,’ even if we were up 3-0. That was their thing."

Broken Record: R.J. Umberger set a Flyers record for a five-game series by scoring eight goals against Montreal in the Conference Semifinal.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

NHL Playoff Appearance: 22nd (2nd consecutive)
Stanley Cups: 2 (1991, 1992)
Last Stanley Cup Final Appearance: 1992
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 22-20
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 118-104
How They Got Here: Defeated Ottawa Senators 4-0 in Conference Quarter-Final; defeated New York Rangers 4-1 in Conference Semifinal.

KEY DATES

Dec. 8/07
-- The Penguins completed a three-game sweep of their 'Crosby-Mania' swing through Western Canada with a 2-1 shootout victory at Vancouver. In the most exciting stretch of the Penguins' season, the club scored four goals in the third period to defeat Edmonton 4-2 and posted consecutive shootout victories at Calgary and Vancouver.

Conklin
Dec. 20/07 -- G Ty Conklin made his first career start in a Penguins uniform, stopping 37 shots and both shootout attempts in a 5-4 victory at Boston. Conklin, recalled from the AHL Dec. 6 after an injury to starter Marc-Andre Fleury, went on post victories in each of his first nine starts.

Jan. 1/08
-- The Penguins struck just 21 seconds into the game and C Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning shootout goal in a 2-1 victory over Buffalo in the AMP Energy Winter Classic in front of more than 71,000 at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Feb. 10/08
-- C Evgeni Malkin tallied his fifth consecutive multiple-point game with a goal and three assists in a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia. Malkin upped his total to 21 points in 10 games without the injured Sidney Crosby in the lineup.

Feb. 26/08
-- Pittsburgh acquired RW Marian Hossa and RW Pascal Dupuis from Atlanta for RW Colby Armstrong, C Erik Christensen, C Angelo Esposito and Pittsburgh's 1st-round draft pick in 2008 at the trading deadline. The club also acquired D Hal Gill from Toronto for a 2nd-round draft pick in 2008 and 5th-round pick in 2009.

March 4/08
-- C Sidney Crosby returned to the lineup in a 2-0 victory at Tampa Bay after missing 21 games with a high ankle injury suffered Jan. 18.

March 25/08 -- The Penguins clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 victory at New Jersey.

PENGUINS STORYLINES

No Looking Back: The Penguins trailed only 4:28 in their first-round elimination of the Ottawa Senators and have trailed only 62:43 of their 547:10 of total playing time over their nine playoff games. That figure is the lowest of all playoff teams.

Crosby
Sid The Kid Stuff: With his 2-12--14 this playoff season and 5-14--19 for his 14-game playoff career, Sidney Crosby already is tied for 17th on the Penguins' all-time playoff scoring list.

Successful season: The Penguins captured their first division title since the 1997-98 season . . . They earned 100 points in consecutive seasons for the second time in franchise history, following 1992-93 and 1993-94 . . . They posted a +31 goal differential, second in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the NHL . . . They closed the season earning at least a point in 11 consecutive home games (9-0-2), in 16 of the final 17 home contests (13-1-3) and in 22 of the final 24 (19-2-3) . . . They sold out all 41 home games in 2007-08, drawing 700,137 fans for an average crowd of 17,076. It marked the first time the Penguins sold out every home game in an entire season.

(Winter) classic turnaround: The Penguins entered the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Buffalo with a 20-16-2 record and went 27-11-6 thereafter, posting the second-best points percentage (.682) after Dec. 31. Only the Eastern Conference Washington Capitals (28-12-3, .686) and the Western Conference Anaheim Ducks (28-10-3, .720) and San Jose Sharks (27-11-5, .686) were better in 2008.

Malkin
Ringing in the New Year: C Evgeni Malkin was the NHL's leading scorer from Jan. 1 forward, tallying 65 points (32 goals, 33 assists) in 44 games. He tallied 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 28 games while Sidney Crosby was out with an ankle injury.

The Crosby chronicles: C Sidney Crosby was in contention for a second consecutive Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader until he was sidelined with an ankle injury Jan. 18 - he had 63 points (20-43--63) at the time of his injury, which was tied for the NHL lead. His 43 assists also ranked first in the League at that time. The injury sidelined him for 28 of 31 games from Jan. 19 to Mar. 25. Crosby still ranked second on the Penguins in scoring with 72 points (24 goals, 48 assists) in 53 games. His per-game scoring average of 1.36 was second in the League to Washington LW Alex Ovechkin (1.37).
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