PHILADELPHIA -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and his Philadelphia Flyers counterpart, Peter Laviolette, agree that matchup of their two teams Saturday is the perfect way to start the season.
The Flyers and Penguins finished the 2011-12 regular season against each other, then engaged in a memorable, hard-fought six-game playoff series. In fact, the Penguins' last eight games have been against the Flyers.
For the Penguins, Bylsma said his team should have extra inspiration for the way their season ended, a 5-1 loss to the Flyers here at Wells Fargo Center.
"When the news stated rolling around and it looked like we were going to have a season, and the possibility of when the season could start … [it] would be against the Flyers, you kind of smirk at the decision-makers who put that schedule together," Bylsma said. "But now we're getting in the plane, coming here, coming into this building, certainly no better way to start for us. A shortened season, the sprint it's going to be to the playoffs, the place where our [season] ended last year, disappointed with us not playing the way we thought we could, starting here against the Flyers, our rival, it's going to be a great way to start."
Laviolette said he's just as happy to see the Penguins written first on his team's schedule. As much as he's pleased for having a rival to open the season against, he's glad the fans who have missed hockey for so long will have what should be an entertaining game for their first day back.
"It's a good way to kick off the season for us, for sure," Laviolette said. "We've got a real strong opponent here. There was a real emotional series last year, I think, and it's a perfect opening game.
"The fact that it's the Penguins, an afternoon game, NBC, that brings the hype already. The lockout adds a little bit. I think you've got a couple teams that have a pretty good rivalry going, it's the first game of the year. People that love hockey still love hockey after the lockout. We're happy they're here and we want to put on a good game for the fans."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK