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NHL Stadium Series

Crosby ready for chilly reception from Flyers fans at Stadium Series

Penguins center prepared for 'difficult environment' at outdoor game in Philadelphia

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is accustomed to hearing boos whenever he steps onto the ice in Philadelphia.

Just not this many at once.

History has shown that the Pittsburgh Penguins center has thrived playing the villain at Wells Fargo Center, which holds about 19,500 for Philadelphia Flyers games. Perhaps that's why Crosby flashed a wry grin before addressing how much additional noise he'll hear during the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series against the Flyers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS2) at Lincoln Financial Field, which holds 69,176 for Philadelphia Eagles games.

"It'll be a difficult environment," Crosby said. "It's going to be a lot, but at the same time it's fun to play in those environments sometime."

 

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This will be Crosby's fifth outdoor game and first since scoring a goal against the Flyers in a 4-2 victory in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

"I think you just try to balance enjoying the experience of being outside while understanding that there are two points on the line just like any other game," Crosby said. "You're trying to take it all in, sure, and enjoy that part of it, but you've got a game to play and the objective remains to win even though you are in a different environment. You've kind of got to go with it and make sure you are at your best."

More often than not, the 31-year-old is at his best against the Flyers. Crosby has 97 points (40 goals, 57 assists) in 65 NHL games against the Flyers. The 40 goals are the most he has scored against any opponent.

His numbers, as well as the fact that he's a three-time Stanley Cup champion, haven't endeared him to the passionate fans of Philadelphia, who seem to boo and make their dislike of Crosby known every time he touches the puck in Philadelphia. But if Flyers fans think they are throwing him off his game, they are wrong.

"If you ever need some extra motivation, it's there," Crosby said in March 2016 about the Flyers crowd.

Linemate Jake Guentzel feels Crosby feeds off the vibe of being the enemy, insisting the Pittsburgh captain and his teammates use the hostile crowd to get fired up.

"He always gets booed loudly there, we always get booed there," Guentzel said. "It makes it a fun environment to play in."

The venom directed at Crosby from Flyers supporters perhaps was best exemplified during the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, which Philadelphia won in six games.

Following an 8-4 loss in Game 3, Crosby said, "I don't like them, because I don't like any guy on their team." Later in that series, the Flyers gave out orange T-shirts before a home game with the message, "We Don't Like You Either."

Before Game 4, the Philadelphia Daily News had a front-page cartoon featuring Crosby's head on the body of lion from "The Wizard of Oz." The headline read, "The Cowardly Penguin."

"That's probably one of the nicer things they've said about me," Crosby said at the time.

The Flyers and Penguins have met once in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since then. Crosby led Pittsburgh in scoring with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in a six-game victory in the Eastern Conference First Round last season.

Video: 2019 Stadium Series time-lapse in Philadelphia, PA

"He was on a mission," Guentzel said.

Before Game 3 of that series, Flyers fans put his photo in more than 100 urinals at Wells Fargo Center. He responded with four points (one goal, three assists) in Pittsburgh's 5-1 victory.

"It's not the first building that's happened in, so…" a smirking Crosby said afterward. "I don't know if they stole that idea from somewhere else. But yeah, it's not the first time that's happened."

The guy knows how to deal with his detractors, doesn't he?

After having one goal and one assist in a 7-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 2, he had a Penguins trainer deliver a signed stick to Nick Lipeika, a 31-year-old firefighter from Norwalk, Connecticut, who had heckled him for most of the game.

"Good chirps. Take it easy on me next time!" Crosby wrote on the stick.

Crosby can expect plenty of heckling Saturday, especially with a lot on the line for each team. The Penguins (32-22-7), following a 4-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, are in third place in the Metropolitan Division, six points behind the first-place New York Islanders, and two points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are currently out of the playoffs. The Flyers (28-26-7), who were defeated 5-1 by the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, are seven points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

"These games are great to be involved in, and we're lucky to be part of games like this," Crosby said. "They're all cool."

Much like the reception will be for him in Philadelphia.

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