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Flyers, Penguins start season by renewing rivalry

by Adam Kimelman

PENGUINS (0-0-0) at FLYERS (0-0-0)


Season series: This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. The Flyers won two of the three regular-season games between the teams in Philadelphia last season.

Big story: This will be the first time the teams have been on the ice since their memorable first-round playoff series last spring.

Team Scope:

Flyers: It wasn't a banner offseason for the Flyers, who lost on attempts at signing Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, and then watched as defenseman Matt Carle and top-line forward Jaromir Jagr departed in free agency.

However, the players remaining are pretty good. Top-line center Claude Giroux is healthy after sustaining a neck injury while playing in Germany, and linemate Scott Hartnell returns after his career-best 37-goal season in 2011-12.

Brayden Schenn, who has played well in the American Hockey League, could get the first shot to fill Jagr's role. His brother, Luke Schenn, acquired from Toronto in June, will fill Carle's spot on the second defense pairing alongside Kimmo Timonen.

All eyes, however, will be focused on the Flyers' goal, where the hope is Ilya Bryzgalov will be more comfortable in his second season in Philadelphia. Last season, in the first year of a nine-year, $51.5 million contract, Bryzgalov was inconsistent and at times drew as much attention off the ice as he did on it.

Penguins: Pittsburgh had Stanley Cup hopes last spring, but the Flyers dashed them in six games in the first round. Now, with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin healthy at the same time, the Penguins will be looking to start the season the right way.

The big change for the Penguins this summer came in their depth down the middle. Jordan Staal was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, with Brandon Sutter coming back from the Hurricanes in the deal and expected to fill Staal's third-line center slot. The Pens also signed goalie Tomas Vokoun to back up Marc-Andre Fleury.

Also expect to see the Penguins play tighter defensively after the team allowed 30 goals in six games to the Flyers in last year's first-round playoff series. Young defenseman Simon Despres, a 2009 first-round pick who saw some action last season, including three playoff games, could earn more ice time with the departure of Zbynek Michalek.

Injury report: The Flyers will start the season without center Danny Briere, who is expected to miss about a week recovering from a wrist injury sustained during the lockout. … The Penguins will start the season with a healthy lineup.

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