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Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia Preview

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

THE FUNDAMENTALS
Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-1-3) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (0-2-0-0)

Where: Mellon Arena
When: Tuesday, October 14, 7:38 p.m.
Radio: WXDX Radio, FM 105.9
TV: Versus Network
Note: The “Trib Total Media Penguins Faceoff Festival 2008” will be held outside on Mario Lemieux place, starting at 5 p.m. For fans without tickets, a 9’ x 12’ LED screen will be set up outside the arena.
 
PENGUINS PROJECTED LINES RELATED CONTENT
Forwards
Dupuis-Crosby-Satan
Staal-Malkin-Sykora
Fedotenko-Talbot-Kennedy
Cooke-Zigomanis-Godard

Defense
Orpik-Letang
Gill-Scuderi
Eaton-Goligoski

Goalkeeper
Fleury
Live Pregame Show @ 6:45
Trib Total Media Minute 10/14
Crosby 10/14
Talbot 10/14
Staal 10/14
Pens vs. Flyers 5/18/08
 
KEYS TO VICTORY
Shoot the Puck: Goaltender Martin Biron may have been solid last season, but he has been inconsistent during his career. If Antero Nittymaki gets the start, then the Penguins should test him often. He hasn’t played a meaningful game since April and may be rusty.

Be Responsible: The Penguins took a lot of risks that backfired against New Jersey. Philadelphia is much more gifted offensively than the Devils. Such risk taking and mistakes will lead to goals in Pittsburgh’s net.

Blooming Flower
: It would be difficult to ask anything more from Marc-Andre Fleury after his career-high 47 save effort against New Jersey. But until the Penguins start jelling offensively, they’re going to need Fleury to be the best player on the team. They’ll be relying on him to keep them in games and even steal a point or two (like he did the other night).
 
LOWDOWN ON THE FLYERS
Two years ago Philadelphia had the worst record in the NHL. General Manager Paul Holmgren rebuilt the club by stockpiling young talent and dumping aging veterans. The team rebounded last season with a 39-point improvement and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in head coach John Stevens' first full season on the job. Philadelphia signed 23-year-old Mike Richards to a 12-year contract and anointed him the Flyers captain. Philadelphia dropped its first two games of the season and is seeking its first win.
 
OFFENSE
Philadelphia is loaded up front with young players like Richards, Jeff Carter, Joffrey Lupul, Scottie Upshall and Scott Hartnell. The Flyers return six players who scored 20 or more goals and ranked sixth in the NHL with an average of 2.99 goals per game last season. Add in Danny Briere, Mike Knuble and a healthy Simon Gagne and Philadelphia might have six players score 30 or more goals.
 
DEFENSE
Braydon Coburn is the 23-year-old cornerstone of the defensive corps. Coburn and Kimmo Timonen emerged as top-tier defensemen and were particularly impressive in the team’s playoff run. Beyond those two, the rest of the defensemen are suspect. Holmgren reworked the defense, adding Steve Eminger and Ossi Vaananen in the offseason. On Monday, the Flyers traded for Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts, a big body at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, to add a physical presence on the blue line. 
 
GOALTENDING
+Click for larger photo
Martin Biron had his best season in six years after winning 30 games with a 2.59 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Since Biron played on Monday night, Antero Nittymaki may get the start against the Penguins. Nittymaki is solid, if not spectacular, and a quality backup goaltender.
 
NEW FACES
The Flyers lost a lot of key contributors from last year’s playoff team, including R.J. Umberger, Vaclav Prospal, Sami Kapanen and Jason Smith. Holmgren didn’t make any flashy signings in the offseason, adding Eminger and Vaananen at defense and center Glen Metropolit. Monday, Philadelphia added Alberts to the defense. Those players were brought in to compliment an already cohesive unit. For once, the Flyers have a GM in Holmgren who won’t just throw money at aging veterans.
 
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: MIKE RICHARDS
Richards had a breakout season last year, more than doubling his point production and leading the team in scoring with 28 goals and 47 assists for 75 points. Now he will carry into the season the added responsibility and pressure of being the team’s captain and leader.
 
"THEY SAID IT"
“Since I got here there’s always been a rivalry and way before that. I think everybody realizes when they play them that they’re part of it no matter if you’ve come from another team or not. Guys are going to realize pretty quickly that there’s a little more intensity in those games for sure.”
- Sidney Crosby on playing the Flyers
 
HIDDEN STAT
24: Points scored against Philadelphia by center Evgeni Malkin in 15 games. Malkin tallied 10 goals, 14 assists and 18 PIM against the Flyers in his career. 
 
LINKS
Game Preview (AP)


Author: Sam Kasan

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