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Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia Scouting Report

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins (42-25-7-91) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (37-31-6-80)
09-10 Season Series: Penguins lead 4-1
09-10 Home vs. Philadelphia: Series tied 1-1
All-Time vs. Philadelphia: Penguins trail 84-132-31
All-Time Home vs. Philadelphia: Penguins lead 57-44-22
Overtime: Penguins trail 8-9-14
Shootout: Penguins lead 4-0
Philadelphia struggled mightily through the first two months of the season, ultimately costing former head coach John Stevens his job. The Flyers have rebounded nicely under new bench boss Peter Laviolette, entering Friday’s action sitting in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 80 points. As well as they played from mid-December through February, the Flyers have been trending downward in March. They are just 5-6-3 since returning from the Olympic break, including a 1-3-1 record in the five games since No. 1 goaltender Michael Leighton went down with a high-ankle sprain. 
Penguins Flyers
74 GP 74
42 W 37
25 L 31
7 OT 6
17.0% (20) PP % 21.8% (3)
84.4% (6) PK % 81.9% (15)
32.6 (5)
S/G 31.7 (7)
28.8 (7)
SA/G 28.7 (5)

       Ville Leino
Oskars Bartulis – Bartulis had a strong start to his NHL career earlier in the season, performing so well as a defensive-minded blueliner that the Flyers promptly gave him a contract extension. The 6-foot-2 Latvian product hasn’t been as good since, but did pick up his first career NHL goal against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Ville Leino –
Leino, a big-time point producer in the Finish Elite League and with Grand Rapids of the American League last season, was expected to step into an offensive role this season with the Detroit Red Wings. He finished last season strong with Detroit, notching nine points (4G-5A) in 13 games and two helpers in seven postseason games, but struggled finding his game this season. He was traded to the Flyers on Feb. 6 in exchange for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. Leino, who has one goal in seven games with Philadelphia, has spent the past couple games on the second line with Simon Gagne and Danny Briere due to Jeff Carter’s injury.

Danny Briere – With Jeff Carter out for what is likely the remainder of the regular season, head coach Peter Laviolette has moved Briere back to his natural position at center to compensate. We’ll see how long the switch will last, as Briere is scoreless with a minus-4 rating over his past four games. He is one tally short of his sixth career 25-goal campaign. When Briere is at the top of his game he is difficult to defend with his speed and skating style which allows him to get low and dart in and out of defenders.

Simon Gagne –
Whether you like the Flyers or not, and let’s face it, in these parts, it’s probably not, you have to respect a guy like Simon Gagne and give him props for the way he has come back the past two seasons from a potentially career-ending concussion. Gagne, who can pick corners with his shot on par with anybody in the game, has 16 goals in 50 games this season after posting 34 in 79 games last season. He is a two-time 40-goal scorer.

Claude Giroux –
Giroux’s game might be up-and-down right now, but his skill level and past performance indicates the Flyers have a real building block to carry the team down the line alongside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Giroux, who is only 22, has a great pair of hands and can dangle the puck as well as anyone. Moving forward he has to find that consistency to his game. He has gone pointless in 11 of his past 13 games following a stretch which saw him pick up nine points (3G-6A) over a 10-game span. Giroux also had a stretch in early January where he notched just three helpers over the first 12 games of the New Year.

Scott Hartnell –
With three weeks remaining in the regular season it’s pretty safe to conclude Hartnell is not having a typical Scott Hartnell season. His goal scoring numbers are down from 30 last season to 14 this year. Barring a dramatic late-season scoring spree he will come up shy of the 20-goal mark for the first time since ’03-04 with Nashville. Hartnell has just two goals over his past 21 games. However, Hartnell does continue to make the Flyers a tough team to play against on a nightly basis. He has 136 penalty minutes through 73 games, giving him a shot at surpassing his career-high total of 159 set two seasons ago.

Mike Richards –
After watching the way Richards can make a difference with his all-around game at the 2010 Olympics with Team Canada, it’s hard to not give the guy a little more respect. Yes, he might not be the most popular opposing player in Pittsburgh, but Richards’ ability to affect a hockey game with his goal-scoring touch, defensive prowess and physical play makes him as good as any player in the NHL. He currently leads the Flyers with 13 power-play goals.

James van Riemsdyk –
Van Riemsdyk, 21, began the season as a house-on-fire for the Flyers, picking up 18 points (3G-15A) over his first 16 NHL games, but has hit the rookie wall over the second half of the season. He has currently gone 13 straight games without a point and has just two goals and zero helpers over his past 21 contests. Still, at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, van Riemsdyk will be a force to be reckoned with for a long time thanks to his ability to shield off defenders on the cycle and take care of loose pucks in the paint. He scored twice against the Penguins during the Flyers’ 7-4 victory at Mellon Arena on Jan. 7.

        Danny Briere               Simon Gagne

      Scott Hartnell                Mike Richards
G A Pts +/-
Carter 33 27 60 +3
Richards 28 30 58 -1
Briere 24 23 47 -4
Hartnell 14 28 42 -5
Giroux 14 27 41 -7
Gagne 16 21 37 -5

Matt Carle – Carle, who is having perhaps his best NHL season at both ends of the rink, has spent much of the season paired with Chris Pronger. The two have been a great match thanks to Pronger’s physicality and Carle’s ability to break the puck out of his own zone. Carle’s plus-18 rating is the best of his career and ranks second only to Pronger’s. Carle, who had been an ironman of sorts by appearing in each of the Flyers’ first 73 games, will be a game-time decision against the Penguins after missing Thursday’s game with a bone bruise in his foot.

Braydon Coburn –
At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and just 25 years of age, Coburn is going to be a defensive presence along the Philadelphia defense for years to come. While his strength is punishing guys in the corner and clearing the front of the net, Coburn is also quite adept at supplying a little offense from the back line. He is two points shy of picking up his third-straight 20-point campaign. Coburn has a good low accurate shot from the point and makes a good first pass out of the zone.

Chris Pronger –
The Flyers believed they were an elite defenseman away from being a true championship contender over the summer so they went out and acquired Pronger from the Anaheim Ducks and promptly named him an alternate captain. Pronger has been as good as advertised his first season in Philly, ranking fourth among all defensemen with 52 points (10G-42A) while posting a team-best plus-21 ranking and averaging 25:35 minutes of ice time, the sixth-highest total in the league. Pronger was also a key contributor during Team Canada’s run to a gold medal.

Kimmo Timonen –
Timonen is not going to overwhelm you with his physical play, nor is he going to wow you with his offensive skills. He is just a guy who is solid all-around at both ends of the rink and a major factor in the Flyers’ revitalization the past few seasons. Timonen contributes to the offensive attack by moving the puck onto the stick of his forwards in his own zone and effectively helping to quarterback the power play offensively. He is five points shy of notching an eighth-straight 40-point campaign.

       Chris Pronger            Kimmo Timonen
G A Pts +/-
10 42 52 +21
Timonen 4 31 35 E
Carle 4 28 32 +18
Coburn 5 13 18 -9

Brian Boucher – Injuries to fellow netminders Ray Emery and Michael Leighton mean the Flyers will enter the postseason pinning their hopes on Boucher between the pipes. Boucher has started each of the past five games since Leighton went down with a high-ankle sprain, posting just a 1-3-1 record. Boucher has especially struggled five-on-five, as 14 of the 16 goals he has surrendered during the stretch have come at even strength. This marks Boucher’s first extensive action as a No. 1 netminder since the 2003-04 campaign when he played for the Phoenix Coyotes. Other than a two-minute mop-up appearance for San Jose two seasons ago, Boucher’s last real postseason appearance came during his first stint with the Flyers way back in ’01-02.

Johan Backlund –
Philadelphia will probably have to ride Brian Boucher hard down the stretch no matter how the 33-year-old fares because his backup, the 28-year-old Backlund, is in his first full season in North America and has yet to make his NHL debut. Backlund has posted pedestrian numbers with Adirondack of the American League: 21-17-2 record, 2.79 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

      Brian Boucher             Johan Backlund

Leighton 17 9 2.83 .905
Boucher 5 15 2.87 .895

Dan Carcillo - Daniel Carcillo is well-known for his pugilistic style and high penalty minute totals, but don’t let the edge with which he plays the game fool you. Carcillo is a pretty fair hockey player who has a pretty decent set of hands. He is one of nine Flyers in double digits with 11 goals in 70 games. He is two goals shy of tying his career high of 13 set with Phoenix in ’07-08. Carcillo is currently playing on the Flyers’ top forward unit with Scott Hartnell and Mike Richards. He ranks fourth in the NHL with 184 penalty minutes and leads Philadelphia with 178 hits. He has one goal and one assists in five games against the Penguins this season.

"When you take Jeff Carter out of the middle, you (need) to fill a big role. Danny has played a lot of center in his career, but hasn't played it since I've been here." - Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette talking to Yahoo! Sports about Danny Briere switching back to his center position with Jeff Carter injured.

"Everybody needs to wake up and see what position we're in. We're not in fifth place anymore with points to spare. There are teams on our butt right now." - Flyers forward Scott Hartnell speaking to Yahoo! Sports on the Flyers recent struggles to pick up points.

"You've got to know where we're sitting and where we're at and how late in the season it is. Every team is getting better and tightening things up and getting prepared for the playoffs. We seem like we're going in the opposite direction." - Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer following the Flyers’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.

The Flyers have been outscored 16-9 while posting a 1-3-1 record since Michael Leighton went down with a high-ankle sprainn Conference

Philadelphia’s third-ranked power play is currently riding a 0-for-16 stretch over their past five games


Read the Game Preview here >>

Author: Jason Seidling

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