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Penguins vs. Flyers Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 10-5-1-21
Road: 11-3-1-23

WHEN: Dec. 14, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
Versus  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Philadelphia Flyers
Home: 10-5-2-22

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers 
Jeff Carter
F  -  #17
  12 Goals
  12 Assists
  24 Points
• The 25-year-old, drafted in the first round (11th overall) by Philadelphia in 2003, signed a blockbuster 11-year contract extension on Nov. 13.

• The goal-scoring center exploded offensively two seasons ago, posting career-highs in goals (46), assists (38) and points (84).

• Is tied for second in the league with 130 shots on goal and has been solid in the faceoff circle, posting a 62-percent success rate off the draw.
Ville Leino
F  -  #22
  7 Goals
  16 Assists
  23 Points
• Blossomed during Philadelphia’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, where he set Flyers franchise records for goals (7) and points (21) by a rookie in a single playoff season.

• Has become a clutch scoring threat, with his quick release and wicked shot netting him two goals in his last three games.

• Broke into the NHL at age 24 when he signed a free-agent contract with Detroit in May 2008 after playing professionally in Finland for six years.
Andrej Meszaros
D  -  #41
  1 goal
  10 assists
  11 points
• The physical blueliner joined the Flyers in July after stints with Ottawa and Tampa Bay.

• Had a career year as a rookie in 2005-06, posting personal bests in goals (10), assists (29) and points (39) en route to being named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team.

• Went to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final with the Senators and represented Slovakia in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
It seemed like the rivalry between bitter cross-state rivals Pittsburgh and Philadelphia couldn’t be more intense...until now.

The Penguins are riding a lot of streaks, both as a team and individually, that the Flyers would relish snapping. But Philadelphia would really savor snatching first place in the standings from their longtime foes, as the two teams are currently neck-and-neck for the best record in the NHL.

Pittsburgh’s 12-game winning streak and 15-game unbeaten stretch (14-0-1) has propelled them to a 21-8-2 record, good for 44 points and first place in the league. Philadelphia is hot on their heels with a 19-7-5 record and 43 points.

The Flyers, who are 7-1-3 in their last 11 games, have a smoldering offense that ranks first in the NHL in goals for (105) and third in goals-per game (3.36). It speaks to the depth of this Philadelphia squad that they're one of just three teams to have at least six players with 20 or more points.

The line of Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere and Ville Leino has been a point-producing machine so far this season. All three players posted huge performances in the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, and they’ve transferred their playoff magic to the regular season. The trio has combined for 67 points, with Briere leading the team in goals with 16. He’s scored six in his last nine contests.

Flyers captain Mike Richards has also been hot lately, racking up a squad-leading 30 points (11G-19A), while center Claude Giroux is dynamite on special-teams play. He paces the team with three shorthanded goals (two of which came against the Penguins) and has six power-play tallies.

While the Flyers certainly have some dynamic presences up top, they aren’t afraid to play gritty defense. Philadelphia leads the NHL with 522 blocked shots. Their deep defensive corps consisting of Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timomen, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle, Andrej Meszaros and Sean O’Donnell has been a steady supporting cast to their high-flying forwards.

The Penguins have yet to see veteran netminder Brian Boucher this season, who made 35 stops on Saturday to improve to 4-0-1 in his past five starts. While Boucher is hot, the Penguins may have to wait to face him if head coach Peter Laviolette decides to start rookie Sergei Bobrovsky against Pittsburgh for the fourth time this season. Bobrovsky looks quite comfortable in his first NHL campaign, tied for third among goaltenders with 14 wins.
  • The Penguins’ current 12-game winning streak is the second-longest in team history and is tied for the eighth-longest in NHL history. A win on Tuesday over the Flyers would allow Pittsburgh to tie three other teams (New Jersey, Philadelphia and Boston) for the fifth-longest streak in league history.
  • The Penguins own the NHL record for the longest winning streak in a single season, notching 17-straight victories from March 9 to April 10, 1993. The team won its only Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular-season team that year.
  • Here’s a little extra perspective on the Penguins’ winning streak: Pittsburgh has won at least 10-consecutive games a total of three times since 1992-93. Almost half (14 to be exact) of the NHL’s 30 teams have never had a winning streak of 10 or more games.
  • Pittsburgh brings an NHL-best seven-game road-winning streak into Tuesday night. The Penguins can set a new franchise record for consecutive road victories with a win over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Overall, the team is currently 11-3-1 away from CONSOL Energy Center, with their 23 road points ranking first in the NHL.
  • Sidney Crosby carries an 18-game point streak into Tuesday’s game, recording 36 points (20G-16A) over the stretch. He is one game shy of equaling his career-best point streak of 19 games, which he put together from Oct. 6 to Nov. 17, 2007.
  • The Penguins captain is enjoying one of the best scoring streaks in NHL history since play resumed following the 2004-05 lockout season. The only player to record more points than Crosby since that campaign is Ottawa’s Dany Heatley, who recorded 38 points (17G-21A) in 22 games from Oct. 5 to Nov. 29, 2005. Crosby is just two points shy of equaling Heatley’s output.
  • Crosby’s lucky mustache may have more time to grow, as he thrives against the Flyers. In 35 career games against Philadelphia, Crosby has 26 goals and 60 points for an average of 1.71 points per game. It’s the second-highest total he’s scored against any one opponent, having notched 62 career points against the New York Islanders. He has four points (2G-2A) in three games against the Flyers so far this season.


Take Away Time And Space - The offensive-minded Flyers tend to set up in their opponent’s zone and patiently cycle the puck until an opening presents itself. That’s when they like to whip shots at the cage with lightning-fast releases. The Penguins have done a great job of playing aggressive yet positionally sound defense in front of a red-hot Fleury, which will pay off against a Philadelphia squad that tries to make their opponents chase after the puck.

Flower Keeps Blooming: On Monday, Marc-Andre Fleury played outstanding in a game that could have gone either way until the final minutes of regulation. And not only is Fleury currently riding a personal-best 11-game winning streak, but he owns a 19-8 all-time record against the Flyers, the most wins he’s posted against any one team. His proven success against Philadelphia will be crucial on Tuesday, as the Flyers will test him from the drop of the puck.
C Jordan Staal, broken right hand (up to 2 weeks)
F Mike Comrie, lower-body (4)
F Evgeni Malkin, undisclosed (2)
RW Ian Laperriere, post-concussion syndrome (indefinitely)
G Michael Leighton, back surgery (indefinitely)
D Matt Walker, hip surgery (indefinitely)
Crosby (26) Briere (16)
Crosby (25) Richards (19)
Crosby (51) Richards (30)
Engelland (67) Hartnell (76)
Letang (+18) Meszaros (+18)
Crosby (8) Giroux (6)
Cooke (2)
Giroux (3)
Fleury (14-6-1) Bobrovsky (14-4-3)
Johnson (2.00) Boucher (.223)
Johnson (.931) Bobrovsky (.922)

Alex Goligoski - The Penguins defenseman scored the game-winning goal in Monday’s 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres to extend his point streak to three games. Goligoski has been nothing but clutch for Pittsburgh so far this season—out of his six goals (tied for fourth among NHL blueliners), four of them have been game-winning tallies.
Mike Richards - The Flyers captain sniped a goal with just four seconds remaining in overtime to propel Philadelphia past Boston, 2-1, on Saturday. With the tally, Richards now has five points (2G-3A) in his past five games. He leads the team in scoring and is 14th (tied) in the NHL with 30 points (11G-19A), averaging close to a point-per-game.

The Wait is Almost Over for Pens Fans
Much is at Stake in "The Battle of Pennsylvania"
Malkin Close to Return
Penguins Report: Practice 12/13/10
Clowe, Fleury and Nash Named NHL 'Three Stars' of the Week
Penguins, Aramark Ask Fans to Choose CONSOL Energy Center's "Signature Sandwich" For Face-Off at Winter Classic
Notebook: 18 and Counting
Jeffrey Making the Most of His Opportunity 
Aftermath: Penguins 5, Sabres 2          

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Author: Michelle Crechiolo

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