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Penguins vs. Flyers Game Preview

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 2-3-0-4
Road: 3-1-1-7

WHEN: Oct 29, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Philadelphia Flyers
Home: 3-3-0-6

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers 
Scott Hartnell
F  -  #19
  2 Goals
  3 Assists
  5 Points
• The four-time 20-goal scorer slumped from a career-best 30 goals in 2008-09 to just 14 last season, his lowest figure since he scored 12 in ’02-03 with the Nashville Predators.
• Rebounded from a tough regular season to play his best hockey during the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, scoring eight goals and 17 points in 23 games.
• Is off to a good start this season playing on a line with Danny Briere and Ville Leino, a trio which first starred together during last year’s postseason.
Braydon Coburn
D  -  #5
  0 Goals
  2 Assists
  2 Points
• Playing behind Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen, has quietly developed into one of the better defensive shutdown blueliners in the NHL.
• In addition to his defensive skills, is also capable of chipping in offensively, as evidenced by his 21 goals the past three seasons.
• Scored his first-ever NHL goal at the Mellon Arena on March 4, 2007 in a 4-3 Pittsburgh shootout victory.
Matt Carle
D  -  #25
  0 Goals 
  3 Assists
  3 Points
• Underrated two-way D-man has seen his all-around game blossom since arriving in Philadelphia early in the 2008-09 season.
• Registered a career-best plus-19 rating last season in 80 games while teaming up with Chris Pronger on the Flyers’ top D-pairing.
• Won the 2006 Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate NCAA hockey player.
If Friday night’s matchup between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers at CONSOL Energy Center has a déjà vu feel – well it should.

For the third time in 23 days, the bitter interstate rivals will do battle in a game that pits two teams which have gone in opposite directions as this first month has unfolded.

Philadelphia, which ruined the debut of CONSOL Energy Center by defeating the Penguins, 3-2, on opening night, jumped out to a 2-0-1 start to the season, but now finds itself attempting to reverse a 2-4 stretch which has dropped them into fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

On the flip side, Pittsburgh has erased a 1-3 start by going 4-1-1 over its last six games, including a 1-1-1 road swing over the past eight days against three of the National Hockey League’s hottest teams (Nashville, St. Louis, Tampa Bay) during the opening month.

One of the reasons for the Flyers’ struggles has been a lack of goal scoring throughout the lineup – although they are hoping the 13 tallies they have registered over the past three games are a sign that trend is reversing itself.

Danny Briere leads the way offensively with six goals and eight points, followed closely by Claude Giroux with four goals and seven points. Jeff Carter, who scored 108 goals the previous three seasons, but was held scoreless in six of the first eight games, hopes his three-point night (1G-2A) on Tuesday against Buffalo will help get his ball rolling.

One area where the Flyers are looking for increased production is along their star-studded blue line, where the team’s top-four of Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle – who combined for 27 goals and 148 points last season – have just seven assists and a minus-1 rating between themselves this season. Those are both numbers that must improve for the Flyers to get back to the level they achieved throughout the second half of last season and during the postseason.
  • A Penguins’ victory on Friday night would allow the team to improve to .500 (3-3) at home for the first time in their beautiful, brand-new building. Back in 1967-68, it took the Penguins five games to reach the .500 mark (2-2-1) at the Civic Arena during the team’s inaugural campaign.
  • Goal scoring has always been the Penguins’ forte since the mid-1980s, so it should come as no surprise that Pittsburgh’s 30 goals through 10 games ranks third in the NHL. Individually, Sidney Crosby ranks sixth (tied) among NHL goal scorers with six and is tied for third in power-play tallies with three. Alex Goligoski’s three goals are tied for most among blueliners; Mark Letestu leads all rookies with four goals; Matt Cooke is locked in a four-way tie for first place with two shorthanded markers.
  • Despite dropping the season opener to the Flyers at CONSOL Energy Center on Oct. 7, the Penguins have experienced great success against Philadelphia at home in recent seasons. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 campaign, the Penguins own an 11-4 home record against the Flyers, and a 21-9 overall mark. If you factor in the postseason, Pittsburgh is 16-5 at home and 29-12 overall against Philadelphia during the same stretch.
  • At this point it really isn’t much of a secret the success Sidney Crosby has had during his career versus the Flyers. But, hey, with statistics like he has posted, you can’t help but always throw them out there. In 33 career regular-season games against the Flyers, Crosby has 26 goals and 59 points for an average of 1.79 points per game. Crosby scored twice and added an assist in the Penguins’ 5-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 16.
  • Crosby isn’t the only Penguins superstar who enjoys facing the Flyers. Evgeni Malkin also owns sparkling career numbers against the Broad Street Bullies. In 28 games against Philadelphia, Malkin has 15 goals and 40 points. That ties with his numbers against the New York Islanders for most against any one opponent.


Power Play Explosion: While the numbers don’t say it all, the fact is the Penguins are 4-2 this season when they score at least one power-play goal in a game, and just 1-2-1 when they are held scoreless on the man-advantage. Sidney Crosby’s two power-play markers early in the third period on Oct. 16 at Philadelphia was the difference in the Penguins breaking open what had been a close game.

More Shots from the Point:
The Buffalo Sabres nearly came back from a 5-1 third-period deficit against the Flyers on Tuesday night. Why were they able to mount a spirited comeback before falling short? A pair of 45-foot rocket shots from defensemen Tyler Myers and Steve Montador. Sometimes Sergei Bobrovsky can be exposed by long shots because he stays deep in his crease and leaves plenty of net exposed to shooters.
C Jordan Staal, foot (indefinitely)
D Zbynek Michalek, upper body (1 to 3 weeks)

F Ian Laperriere, post-concussion syndrome (indefinitely)
G Michael Leighton, back surgery (out until late November)
D Matt Walker, right hip surgery (indefinitely)
Crosby (6) Briere (6)
Letang (7) Richards (6)
Crosby (12) Briere (8)
Rupp (20) Hartnell (39)
Letang (+7) Betts (+4)
Crosby (3) Briere (3)
Cooke (2)
Giroux (2)
Johnson (4-0-1) Bobrovsky (3-2-0)
Johnson (1.39) Boucher (2.26)
Johnson (.951) Bobrovsky (.904)

Craig Adams - Since missing two games (Oct. 15-16), Adams, who is more noted for his defensive prowess, has gone on a scoring spree for the Penguins. Over the last four games, Adams has posted four points (1G-3A), including his fourth career three-point night (1G-2A) on Wednesday at Tampa Bay. Adams’ goal ended a 118-game regular-season goalless drought.
Danny Briere - We also highlighted Briere the last time these two teams met on Oct. 16, but what can we say, not only is he carrying the Flyers’ offense through the first month, he is also red hot. Briere, who lugs a team-best six goals and eight points into Friday’s matchup, is currently on a three-game scoring streak which has seen him post four points (2G-2A). He has points in seven of nine games this season.

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Author: Jason Seidling

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