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Flyers, Penguins prepare for intense battle

by John McGourty
PHILADELPHIA -- Players on the Flyers and Penguins don't agree on much, which makes the rivalry so entertaining, but they can concur that this matchup is probably their most intense.

"It's up there, no doubt, for sure there's been a lot of intense games and that's kind of been the history of these two teams, even before I got here," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We always expect intense, tough games here and it's usually what you get. We used to play each other eight times a year and we played them in the playoffs. We've seen them a lot."

Flyers center Jeff Carter, a 46-goal scorer a year ago, will be opposing Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Craig Adams tonight, no easy task. Carter agreed the Penguins have become the Flyers' biggest rivalry.

"I'd say so. The teams were in a similar situation with a lot of young guys coming in at the same time," Carter said, "and building to where we're at. Obviously, they won the Stanley Cup. It's been the same road for us and it's built over the years, with the young guys playing against each other.

"Every game is a battle. It's fun to play in them and the crowds always into it, so it's a lot of fun. It's one of those games you have circled on your calendar. It's always exciting and a tough game to win."

"This is probably one of the most heated over the past couple of years, because of the playoffs," Flyers captain Mike Richards said, adding playing against Crosby is tough because of "his intensity, he's strong, he always plays hard."

Van Riemsdyk out -- Flyers rookie James van Riemsdyk suffered a blow to the head in Tuesday's 6-5 overtime win over the Washington Capitals. He didn't practice for the second-straight day. He won't play tonight but should return for Saturday's games against the Ducks, coach John Stevens said.

Flyers center Blair Betts will miss a month after injuring his shoulder Tuesday. Aaron Asham will play right wing on the third line with center Claude Giroux, while Darroll Powe moves from right to left wing. Ian Laperriere takes Betts place centering the fourth line. Riley Cote moves into the lineup at left wing there while Dan Carcillo will be on the right wing.

Pittsburgh's Bill Guerin didn't practice, but is expected to play tonight. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma juggled his lines in Wednesday's 3-0 home loss to the Phoenix Coyotes and promised more line scrambling tonight if the Penguins continue to struggle.

The lineup

The lines for the Flyers:




The lines for the Penguins:



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