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Friend Turned Foe

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Forward Arron Asham knows firsthand about the intense rivalry between the Penguins and Flyers. Asham signed with Pittsburgh this past offseason after spending two years playing for Philadelphia.

Asham will get his first taste of the heated rivalry as a member of the Penguins when he faces his old team Friday night as Pittsburgh hosts the Flyers at CONSOL Energy at 7 p.m.

“It’s always nice to come back and play against your old team,” Asham said. “It’s not my first time doing it, but it’s definitely going to be exciting for me tonight.”

The Flyers spoiled the opening game at CONSOL Energy Center with a 3-2 victory Oct. 7. But Asham did not play in that contest due to an upper-body injury that forced him out of the lineup for a month.

But Asham has returned strong from that injury, and made his Penguins debut Wednesday night in Tampa Bay. In his first contest in the new sweater, Asham recorded four hits in 11:01 minutes of ice time.

“It’ll take a few games to get my timing down, my hands,” Asham said. “My upper-body feels great. It’s just a matter of time getting my hands back.”

Head coach Dan Bylsma used Asham on three different lines, including a few shifts on Sidney Crosby’s line as well as Evgeni Malkin’s.

Judging by Friday’s morning skate, it appears that Asham will play on a line with Malkin and center Mark Letestu tonight.

“(Asham) was out in different spots during the last game, and he only played 11 and half or 12 minutes,” Bylsma said. “I would anticipate him being around the lineup when he has gotten back to full strength. Because of that, we want him to practice with that line today, since he played some shifts with them last game. He played some shifts with Sid last game as well. He has some good physicality, which he brought last game and as he gets more comfortable, he has some grits and straightforwardness. He also has a good shot.”

“You just go out there and play. It doesn’t really matter whom you’re with,” Asham said. “I have a role on the team, a role on the line. I try to stay within that. I can’t get too fancy. That’s what’s going to hurt.

“It’s always nice to play with those guys. They’re very skilled. They create a lot of offensive opportunities. I just have to play my game. It doesn’t matter who I’m with, play smart hockey and create some space for whoever I’m playing with.”

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