GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (6-12-4-1) at Philadelphia Flyers (14-3-5-1).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
Ken Hitchcock must feel his Philadelphia Flyers should be able to get over
this mental block.
Two days after their 12-game unbeaten streak was snapped, the Flyers try to
defeat the lowly Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time in three tries this
Philadelphia was unbeaten in November (10-0-2), but opened this month with a
4-1 loss at Ottawa on Monday.
The Senators knocked the Flyers out of the playoffs each of the last two
seasons. Philadelphia has won only four of the last 22 regular-season meetings
(4-12-6) with the Senators.
"I think there are some psychological issues that need to get dealt with,"
Hitchcock said. "Whether we've got to draw them out or whatever, I think those
are real and they've got to get dealt with.
"If we want to be a championship team, we cannot pretend that the
psychological issues are going to be hidden. ... They are preventing people
from performing at their best."
Beating the Penguins should not be as difficult, though the Flyers haven't
been able to do it in two attempts this season. Both games resulted in ties --
3-3 on Oct. 11 and 1-1 last Wednesday.
Pittsburgh, however, is 0-6-1 in its last seven visits to Philadephia and
has won only once in its last 21 trips there (1-19-1).
Plus, the Flyers remain the only unbeaten team at home this season, having
gone 10-0-2 at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia is clinging to a slim lead over New Jersey in the Atlantic
Division despite having the most points in the NHL with 34, twice as many as
the last-place Penguins.
Pittsburgh got more bad news Tuesday, learning Mario Lemieux will be
unavailable for the team's five-game road trip that begins Wednesday. Lemieux,
who did not accept a $5 million raise on Monday, has missed 13 games since
injuring his hip Nov. 1 against Boston.
General manager Craig Patrick said the team is no longer projecting when
Lemieux might return because previous estimates were wrong.
"We've tried that 14 times already," Patrick said.
Pittsburgh has won only three times since Lemieux got hurt (3-8-1-1), but is
coming off a 4-3 victory over Atlanta on Monday.