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Flyers @ Penguins, 20/2/2013


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The reeling Philadelphia Flyers (7-9-1) conclude their season-high six-game road trip tonight with a clash against the archrival Pittsburgh Penguins (11-5-0). The game starts at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.

This is the second of four meetings between the Atlantic Division teams. On opening day in Philly, Pittsburgh prevailed by a 3-1 count.

In that game, the Penguins forged a 2-0 first period lead on a Tyler Kennedy deflection goal on the power play and a James Neal even strength goal scored right off the faceoff. Claude Giroux tallied a pretty goal on a line-rush hookup with Scott Hartnell in the opening minute of the second period. Despite controlling the second period, Philly was unable to score the tying goal. The third period was evenly played and scoreless until Chris Kunitz scored an empty netter on a late-game power play.

Heading into tonight's tilt, the Flyers have had a roller coaster of a road trip.

They started out with an ugly final 40 minutes of a 5-2 loss in Toronto. The next night, the Flyers rode a strong goaltending performance by Ilya Bryzgalov and strong play from the trio of Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and Tye McGinn to a 3-2 win.

Last Friday, the Flyers jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first period of their game in New Jersey. However, Devils goals in the opening minute of both the first and second periods unnerved the Flyers despite the fact they still held a 3-2 lead at the time of the second goal. New Jersey took over the game, and went on to defeat Philly by a 5-3 final score.

The following evening. the Flyers turned in a dreadful performance in a 4-1 loss in Montreal on Saturday night. Apart from solid work by the penalty killing units, the Flyers did very little right against the Canadiens. Danny Briere scored Philly's only goal.

After the game in Montreal, team captain Giroux, along with veteran leaders Kimmo Timonen (who played through an injury that forced him to leave the previous night's game early) and Mike Knuble called out the entire team to elevate its compete level.

On Presidents' Day, despite playing for the third time in four days, the Flyers swarmed over the New York Islanders. In a reversal of the New Jersey game, it was the Flyers who scored in the opening minute of each of the first two periods. Giroux kicked things off with the first of his two goals. Matt Read opened the floodgates in the second period. When all was said and done, the Flyers had a 7-0 shutout win behind Bryzgalov, and Brayden Schenn and Zac Rinaldo had single goals that led up to a pair of late goals by Danny Briere. Jakub Voracek racked up four assists in the game.

After going 2-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in Long Island, the Flyers have brought their season special teams totals to 19.1 percent on the man advantage (tied with Vancouver for 10th in the NHL) and their penalty kill to 83.1 percent. The latter area has been consistently good for the last two weeks -- the one positive constant during the inconsistent road trip.

Pittsburgh has gotten back to its winning way of late, bringing a three-game winning streak and eight wins in the last 10 games into tonight. The lone hiccup was getting swept in a home-and-home set with the Devils. It should be noted that the Penguins were without key defensemen Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen (both of whom have since returned) in the two losses to New Jersey.

The Penguins still have some of the same potentially exploitable areas that led to their playoff defeat at the hands of the Flyers last spring. They will still turn over their fair share of pucks and can be forechecked on soft flips into the corner (which was how the Flyers controlled the second period of the opening game of the season after trying and failing to generate carry-ins in the opening stanza). When Marc-Andre Fleury is in goal, there are rebounds to be had, and he is not always the most resilient of goaltenders mentally after a goal he thinks he should have stopped.

However, the Penguins as a team have played an improved brand of team defense this season compared to some of the vulnerabilities they showed down the stretch and into the playoffs. For one thing, the puck support has been much better. While the Penguins are not especially deep on the blueline, the top four of Letang, Paul Martin, Letang and Brooks Orpik are usually reliable. For another, both Fleury (especially of late) and Tomas Vokoun have generally been solid in net.

Last but not least, a big reason why the Penguins have reduced their GAA while continuing to score at a healthy clip is that their puck possession game can simply take over games at times. Philly is all too familiar with the chore of trying to separate Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby from the puck. It's hard to attack the Penguins when you can't get the puck for long stretch at a time.

Even when Pittsburgh's top two lines don't score on a particular shift, they can wear an opponent down and pounce later in the match. The two superstar centers, along with James Neal, offensive-minded defenseman Letang and productive complementary players such as Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz are dangerous whenever they hit the ice.

It will be interesting to see whether the two sides try to do line-matching in this regular season game and how often Dan Bylsma, with the last line change, can get his top guns out for offensive zone draws against Philadelphia's weakest defensive line (the trio of Briere, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds).

Typically, the Flyers try to counter Malkin's line with Sean Couturier at center and the defense duo of Braydon Coburn and Nicklas Grossmann (reunited in Long Island after being separated by Peter Laviolette for most of the last month). The Giroux line and the Timonen pairing often go head-to-head with the Crosby line.

The Flyers remain without Scott Hartnell (foot) and Andrej Meszaros (shoulder). The Penguins will have all key regulars available.

PROJECTED LINEUPS -- Subject to change


24 Matt Read - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek

48 Danny Briere - 10 Brayden Schenn - 17 Wayne Simmonds

25 Max Talbot - 14 Sean Couturier - 9 Mike Knuble

12 Harry Zolnierczyk - 26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 36 Zac Rinaldo

44 Kimmo Timonen - 22 Luke Schenn

8 Nicklas Grossmann - 5 Braydon Coburn

29 Erik Gustafsson - 27 Bruno Gervais

30 Ilya Bryzgalov

[33 Brian Boucher]


14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 9 Pascal Dupuis

24 Matt Cooke - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal

19 Beau Bennett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 48 Tyler Kennedy

10 Tanner Glass - 46 Joe Vitale - 27 Craig Adams

2 Matt Niskanen - 58 Kris Letang

44 Brooks Orpik - 7 Paul Martin

5 Deryk Engelland - 41 Robert Bortuzzo

29 Marc-Andre Fleury

[92 Tomas Vokoun]

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I honestly don't know what to expect. Hopefully they won't be as dissmal and dissapointing as they were against the Habs and they certainly won't put 7 goals in against MAF. I am somewhere in the middle of the fence with this one. Over the past two years they certainly have owned the Pens in their barn...go figure. Bryz has been playing well of late and the Flyers PK has been pretty solid. If they give an effort like they did against the Isles then possibly seeing a 4-3 or 3-2 win is not out of the realm of possibility. I'll be happy if they can sneak a point out of this game.

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i think a point would be nice too, depends on bryz, if he can weather the early onslaught which will be coming; that building will be sold out and in full throat & that team does feed off their fans. once they start playing hockey if our guys move their feet and play hard on the puck we can take a point from them. I"ve watched the Pens a fair amount this year and what i've noticed is they are very opportunistic, they don't miss open nets and they pounce on the opposition's mistakes, teams will play them evenly for long stretches then there will be about 5 minutes when the Pens get rolling make a good play and feed off it, while they're on that roll they can put 3 or 4 behind the goalie, that's how they did the caps & rangers, totally deflated them in that surge then went back to playing even. they're a good hockey team, right now they're the chalk in the east.

Edited by mojo1917
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So Mcginn is a healthy scratch again? :wacko:

i don't see where or how Knuble's voice in the room can make up for his 2 dumb & ill timed penalties a game and his lack of speed. I'd rather have McGinn in the line up for number of reasons. i like his toughness better, i think he's better along the boards , his hands aren't as soft but he's been disciplined on the ice and doesn't take lazy penalties or penalties because his foot speed requires a hook or hold.... plus the kid can fight, i'll hope they waive Knubs once hartnell returns,

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Here it is... and out native Pens fan Polaris wont like it... Flyers win 5-2 and Vokoun is chased from the pipes. Cindy gets his bell rung by Schenn (Luke) and then G puts up 3 points. For the life of me I can not imagine why McGinn is scratched again... to me it makes no sense.

Oh well... I can hope right?!

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Here it is... and out native Pens fan Polaris wont like it... Flyers win 5-2 and Vokoun is chased from the pipes. Cindy gets his bell rung by Schenn (Luke) and then G puts up 3 points. For the life of me I can not imagine why McGinn is scratched again... to me it makes no sense.

Oh well... I can hope right?!

can we add Cooke will get a 3 game suspension for taking a run at Roo. ;)

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