One of the major facets of the recent realignment talk was sustaining classic rivalries. One of those rivalries will be played out Thursday, when the Pittsburgh Penguins
visit the Philadelphia Flyers
(7 p.m., NHLN-US) at Well Fargo Center.
The teams are separated by just three points in the Eastern Conference standings, with the Penguins' 36 points putting them at the top of the conference, with the Flyers close behind in fifth.
"I talked to Mario (Lemieux, team owner) once on the phone. But I know a lot of people are probably mad about my decision. But I felt like the (Penguins) management didn't really want me. I think the fans (made them make) the offer. That's the way I felt. If I was wrong, I apologize, but that's the way I felt." -- Jaromir Jagr
There will be one major element missing from the game, however. The Penguins will be missing team captain and star center Sidney Crosby
, who will sit out the next two games following a hard collision with teammate Chris Kunitz
during Monday's game against the Bruins.
"Sidney took a hard hit during our game against Boston Monday night and wasn't feeling 100 percent," said Penguins general manager Ray Shero
. "He saw Dr. Micky Collins of UPMC today and took an ImPACT test, which showed no problems. However, we all think it's best that he sits out the next two games as a precaution."
Crosby always seems to raise his game when he played the Flyers. In 36 regular-season games against the Flyers, Crosby's 26 goals, 36 assists and 62 points are the most he has against any opponent.
However, missing Crosby is nothing new for the Pens. Crosby missed the first five weeks of the season dealing with a concussion suffered in January, but that didn't stop Pittsburgh from rising to the top of the conference. James Neal
is among the League's goal-scoring leaders, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
is among the best in the League at his position and they have the third-best penalty-killing unit in the League at 88.7 percent.
And in their last nine games in Philadelphia, the Pens are 7-2.
However, waiting for the Penguins will be a pair of familiar faces.
, who won five Art Ross
trophies, a Hart Trophy and two Stanley Cups with the Penguins, will face his former team for the first time since flirting with re-signing in Pittsburgh this summer before agreeing to terms with the Flyers.
"I talked to Mario (Lemieux, team owner) once on the phone," Jagr told a CBS television affiliate in Pittsburgh last month. "But I know a lot of people are probably mad about my decision. But I felt like the (Penguins) management didn't really want me. I think the fans (made them make) the offer. That's the way I felt. If I was wrong, I apologize, but that's the way I felt."
While Jagr hasn't played in Pittsburgh since being traded to the Washington Capitals
in 2001, Maxime Talbot
will play his first game against his former team since leaving Pittsburgh during the summer for a five-year deal with the Flyers.
With his versatility, toughness, easy-going personality and near-constant smile, Talbot became a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, and is best remembered for scoring both Penguins goals in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, when Pittsburgh beat the Detroit Red Wings
2-1 to win the franchise's third Stanley Cup.
When he signed with the Flyers, Talbot told NHL.com, "I got … messages on Twitter and Facebook from (Penguins) fans. Half of them are taking it to heart and saying how could you do that (leave). The other half said thanks for everything you did and good luck in Philly."
They won't be wishing him luck Thursday
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK