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It's A Great Day for Playoff Hockey - Apr. 15

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
It's a Great Day for Playoff Hockey will be tracking the Penguins' Stanley Cup quest with constant updates throughout the postseason.


6:54 PM:
I hope everyone enjoys the game. Click here to read the Penguins' live game blog for updates through the contest.

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6:15 PM:
Congratulations are in order for the Kunitz family. Chris Kunitz and his wife, Maureen, are the proud parents of baby Zachary James Kunitz. The newest member of the family was born at 9:41 a.m. at 9-pounds, 2-ounces and 21 1/2 inches. Zachary is the couple's first child.

Now let's see if daddy can celebrate with a few goals and points against the Flyers.

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1:40 PM:
Here is a great quote from Flyers coach John Stevens this afternoon on last season's 4-1 series loss to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Last year, Pittsburgh was rolling through the playoffs almost like a hot knife through butter by the time we got to them.”

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12:55 PM:
Here are some predictions from writers at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Of the seven prognostications, five picked the Penguins to prevail in the series, while two selected the Flyers.

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12:50 PM:
Flyers head coach John Stevens confirmed at his post-practice press conference that defensemen Ryan Parent and Randy Jones are healthy and will play tonight against the Penguins.

"Ryan feels good and should be ready to go and Jonesy as well," Stevens said. "We should be as healthy as we've been all year."

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12:12 PM:
Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent, who missed two of the team's final three regular-season games with a strained groin, practiced with the team at the Wednesday morning skate and is expected to be in the lineup for Philadelphia tonight.

Parent told the
Philadelphia Inquirer that his groin was "feeling great" and that he's ready to play. Parent is paired with veteran Kimmo Timonen as the Flyers' top defensive pairing.

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11:54 AM:
As expected Bylsma was tight-lipped about his lineup this evening. The pressing questions are which six defensemen will dress and whether he will play Craig Adams, Miroslav Satan or Eric Godard.

"Those are game time decisions and I have to keep something back," Bylsma said.

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11:08 AM:
I'm not sure if this is a bad omen or not but the fire alarm went off at Mellon Arena during the Penguins' morning skate. It's the first time all season that the alarm has sounded. Though I'm not sure as to what triggered the siren, the alarm did stop after a few minutes. From what I can tell, everyone is OK.

By the way, have you heard about the Consol Energy Center. Is it 2010-11 yet?

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10:55 AM:
The Penguins are about eight hours away from dropping the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena to kick off the Stanley Cup playoffs and the drama is starting early.

Two intriguing developments from Wednesday's morning skate:

Sykora at practice
1) The Penguins survived a short scare when forward Petr Sykora left the ice in obvious pain. Sykora hobbled down the runway to the Penguins locker room with head athletic trainer Chris Stewart. After a few minutes, while the team was huddled around interim head coach Dan Bylsma, Sykora returned to the ice. Evgeni Malkin welcomed his linemates return by tapping his stick on the ice, inspiring the rest of the team to tap their sticks in Sykora's honor. Sykora raised his arms in mock celebration to let his teammates know he was appreciative. Sykora finished the practice session and is OK.

2) Forward Chris Kunitz was the only absent player at the morning skate as his wife went into labor. The couple had their first child, a baby boy. Kunitz is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

Pascal Dupuis took Kunitz's normal left wing position on the Penguins' top line with Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin. The line combinations were:
Dupuis-Crosby-Guerin
Fedotenko-Malkin-Sykora
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Godard/Adams-Talbot-Satan

The defensemen rotated regularly so the game's pairings couldn't be determined.

Hopefully Bylsma will give some indication at his post-practice press conference on his six defensemen and on if he'll play Eric Godard, Miroslav Satan or Craig Adams. But, of course, coaches are very cautious during the playoffs so I wouldn't be surprised if Bylsma keeps that information to himself.
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