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Penguins vs. Flyers Game Preview

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Flyers Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
42-23-8-92
Home: 22-13-2-46
Road: 20-10-6-46

WHEN: March 24, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Philadelphia Flyers
Overall:
44-19-9-97
Home: 21-10-5-47
Road:
23-9-4-50

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers 
 
      
Danny Briere
RW  -  #48
  32 Goals
  28 Assists
  60 Points
• Has nine points (4G-5A) in his last seven games after being held pointless for five straight, with his 32 goals ranking second on the team and eighth (tied) in the league.

• This is Briere’s fourth-career season where he has posted 30 or more goals and his first since the 2007-08 campaign.

• Set a Flyers franchise record for scoring in a playoff year with 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points during Philadelphia’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, breaking the record of 28 points by Brian Popp in 1987.
 
Jeff Carter
C  -  #17
  33 Goals
  29 Assists
  62 Points
• Is ranked fourth among league forwards with a plus-25 rating and 291 shots, while his 33 goals have him tied for sixth in the NHL.

• The goal-scoring center, who has now put up three-consecutive seasons of 30 or more goals, exploded offensively two seasons ago – posting career-highs in goals (46), assists (38) and points (84).

• The 25 year old, drafted in the first round (11th overall) by the Flyers in 2003, signed a blockbuster 11-year contract extension on Nov. 13.
 
Kimmo Timonen
D  -  #41
  5 goals
  28 assists
  33 points
• The veteran defenseman, who entered the league in 1998 with Nashville, has logged 24 points (3G-21A) in 36 career games against Pittsburgh.

• Has been a steady presence on the blue line through injuries to Chris Pronger, as Timonen leads the team with an average of 22:32 minutes per game and 153 blocked shots.

• Also paces all Flyers defensemen with 3:26 shorthanded minutes per game and ranks second with six goals and 33 points.
It’s been more than three months since Pittsburgh and Philadelphia last battled, and their previous meeting wasn’t a pleasant one for the Penguins. When the two bitter cross-state rivals last faced off on Dec. 14, Philadelphia snapped Pittsburgh’s 12-game winning streak and snatched the top spot in the Eastern Conference from the Penguins by a one-point margin. It’s a spot the Flyers have not relinquished since Jan. 8.

Philadelphia secured a playoff berth with their 3-2 shootout win over Dallas on March 19, and the Flyers held onto first place in the East when they gained a point in their 5-4 shootout loss to second-place Washington on Tuesday. The Penguins are looking to be the team that overtakes the Flyers for first place in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, as they trail Philadelphia – who they play twice in the next six days – by just five points.

The Flyers – who are riding a 4-0-3 unbeaten streak in their last seven games – need six wins in their final 10 games to reach the 50-win mark for the first time since the 1985-86 season.

They have been led by offensive production from all over a deep forward lineup, as Philadelphia has five different players who have tallied at least 20 goals and nine different players that have reached double digits in goals. Their average of 3.18 goals-per game is first in the East and third (tied) in the league.

They have been led by the outstanding play of Claude Giroux, who is having a breakout season with his 24 goals and team-leading 68 points, both personal-bests for the 23-year-old forward. Giroux is the type of player who is dangerous in all three zones and all situations, as he is tied for the team lead with eight power-play goals and three shorthanded goals.

Philadelphia’s defensive corps has so far withstood the loss of Chris Pronger, who underwent surgery on March 15 to repair a small fracture in his right hand and is expected to miss three to four weeks. Veteran Kimmo Timonen has been leading the pack, while Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros and Matt Carle have all been logging monster minutes as well.

While Brian Boucher got the nod between the pipes in the two teams’ last meeting, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has decided to go with rookie Sergei Bobrovsky Thursday against the Penguins. Bobrovsky has backstopped the Flyers to a 2-1 record against Pittsburgh so far this season, earning a 2.67 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. But while Bobrovsky has an impressive 26-11-5 overall record this season, the 22-year-old netminder was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots against the Capitals on Tuesday.
  • The Penguins recalled goaltender Brad Thiessen from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League to backup Marc-Andre Fleury, as it was announced Thursday afternoon that Brent Johnson is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Thiessen currently leads the AHL with 32 wins and a 1.88 goals-against average. His seven shutouts are tied for the league lead, and they established a single-season franchise record.
  • This is the fifth of six meetings between the two teams. Philadelphia has won three of the four meetings between the teams thus far this season. The Flyers have posted a trio of 3-2 victories, with two coming at CONSOL Energy Center (Oct. 7 and Oct. 29) and one at the Wells Fargo Center (Dec. 14). Pittsburgh’s only victory came via a 5-1 defeat of the Flyers in Philadelphia on Oct. 16 behind a pair of goals from Sidney Crosby. In four games, Crosby (2G-4A) and Kris Letang (1G-5A) lead the way for Pittsburgh in the season series with six points each.
  • In 14 career appearances in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’, Marc-Andre Fleury has posted a 9-4 overall record to accompany his 3.02 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. Fleury is 4-1 in his previous five decisions at the Wells Fargo Center, with his only loss being the Penguins’ 3-2 setback on Dec. 14 of this season. Fleury owns a 19-9 career record against the Flyers. In 31 appearances he has posted a 2.70 goals-against average.
  • The Penguins enter Thursday’s game with the Eastern Conference’s third-most road points with 46 (20-10-6). On March 21, the Penguins recorded their 20th road win of the season for the fifth-straight year, tying them with San Jose for the longest active streak in the NHL. Including Thursday, the Penguins have five road games remaining this season. They need to win four of their five remaining road games to equal the franchise record of 24 established in 1992-93.
  • Philadelphia currently owns a five-point lead over the Penguins in the race for the Atlantic Division crown. Including Thursday, the Penguins have nine games remaining this season, while Philadelphia has 10. Pittsburgh has three matchups remaining against teams currently positioned in the top-eight of the Eastern Conference playoff field, with two of those coming against the Flyers. Philadelphia will face five potential playoff teams during its final 10 games.
  • Of the Penguins’ nine games remaining, five are against Atlantic Division foes (Philadelphia, 2; New Jersey, 2; New York Islanders) and all nine are against teams from the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are 8-8-3 this season against the Atlantic Division and 31-19-5 against the East.
  • Philadelphia has a 14-3-1 record against Atlantic Division opponents this season, the best record of any NHL team against its own division.

 

      
Penalty Kill: The Penguins watched a four-goal lead slip away on Monday against Detroit, with the Red Wings completing their comeback on the strength of two power-play tallies. A similar scenario played out on Sunday against New York Rangers, with a pair of goals on the man-advantage spearheading the Blueshirts’ comeback. With top penalty killer Matt Cooke out of the lineup for an extended period of time, the Penguins’ other top penalty killers will have to step up and keep the Flyers’ power play off the board as points become even more crucial down the stretch.

Beat Them At Their Own Game:
The Flyers like to set up in their opponent’s offensive 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. All of the Penguins’ forward lines have done a fantastic job lately of playing head coach Dan Bylsma's system, which focuses on establishing offensive zone time and controlling the puck down low, and Pittsburgh will need to continue to do that in order to deny Philadelphia time and space.
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)
F Mark Letestu, upper body (day-to-day)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss the remainder of the season)
D Brooks Orpik, broken finger (IR)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion (IR)
D Oskars Bartullis, shoulder (indefinitely)
F Ian Laperriere, post-concussion syndrome (indefinitely)
D Chris Pronger, hand surgery (3-4 weeks)
F Jody Shelley, broken orbital bone (indefinitely)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Carter (33)
A
Letang (39) Giroux (44)
PTS
Crosby (66) Giroux (68)
PIM
Rupp (120) Hartnell (132)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Meszaros (+26)
PP
Crosby (10) Carter/Giroux (8)
SH
Dupuis/Cooke (3)
Richards/Giroux (3)
W/L
Fleury (31-18-5)
Bobrovsky (26-11-5)
GAA
Johnson (2.19) Boucher (2.41)
SVP
Johnson (.920) Boucher (.915)

Jordan Staal - Staal is currently riding a four-game point streak that has seen him tally seven points (3G-4A) over that span. He notched a goal and an assist against both Edmonton March 13 and Ottawa March 15, then went on to score a goal against New York Rangers on March 20 before adding two helpers versus Detroit on March 21. The 22-year-old center has been an absolute workhorse for the Penguins since making his season debut on Jan. 1, as he is skating a career-high 21:11 minutes per game, the ninth-best total among NHL forwards. Staal also has 25 points (10G-15A) over his previous 29 games – a 0.86 point-per-game clip. Those 25 points since Jan. 12 are the most on the team during that span and a team-high during Sidney Crosby’s absence.
 
Claude Giroux - Giroux scored a goal and added an assist in the Flyers’ 5-4 shootout loss to Washington on Tuesday, giving him nine points (3G-6A) in his last seven games and 16 points (5G-11A) in his last 14 contests. The 23-year-old center has been enjoying a breakout season, as he leads Philadelphia in both assists (44) and points (68), which each represent new career-highs for Giroux, as do his 24 goals. Giroux is dangerous in all situations, as he is tied for the team lead in both power-play goals (8) and shorthanded goals (3). He also seems to have the Penguins’ number, as he’s scored five times in 12 career games against Pittsburgh. The Flyers are 15-1-4 when Giroux scores a goal.
 
 
 
 

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WHEN: March 24, 2011 - 7:00 pm
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
WATCH: FSN
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

It's been more than three months since Pittsburgh and Philadelphia last battled, and their previous meeting wasn't a pleasant one for the Penguins. When the two bitter cross-state rivals last faced off on Dec. 14, Philadelphia snapped Pittsburgh's 12-game winning streak and snatched the top spot in the Eastern Conference from the Penguins by a one-point margin. It's a spot the Flyers have not relinquished since Jan. 8.

Philadelphia secured a playoff berth with their 3-2 shootout win over Dallas on March 19, and the Flyers held onto to first place in the East with their 5-4 shootout victory over second-place Washington on Tuesday. The Penguins are looking to be the team that overtakes the Flyers for first place in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, as they trail Philadelphia – who they play twice in the next six days – by just five points.

The Flyers – who are riding a 4-0-3 unbeaten streak in their last seven games – need six wins in their final 10 games to reach the 50-win mark for the first time since the 1985-86 season.

They have been led by offensive production from all over a deep forward lineup, as Philadelphia has five different players who have tallied at least 20 goals and nine different players that have reached double digits in goals. Their average of 3.18 goals-per game is first in the East and third (tied) in the league.

They have been led by the outstanding play of Claude Giroux, who is having a breakout season with his 24 goals and team-leading 68 points, both personal-bests for the 23-year-old forward. Giroux is the type of player who is dangerous in all three zones and all situations, as he is tied for the team lead with eight power-play goals and three shorthanded goals.

Philadelphia's defensive corps has so far withstood the loss of Chris Pronger, who underwent surgery on March 15 to repair a small fracture in his right hand and is expected to miss three to four weeks. Veteran Kimmo Timonen has been leading the pack, while Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros and Matt Carle have all been logging monster minutes as well.

While Brian Boucher got the nod between the pipes in the two teams' last meeting, rookie Sergei Bobrovsky will more than likely be the goalie coach Peter Laviolette goes with on Thursday. Bobrovsky has backstopped the Flyers to a 2-1 record against the Penguins so far this season, earning a 2.67 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. But while Bobrovsky has an impressive 26-11-5 overall record this season, the 22-year-old netminder was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots against the Capitals on Tuesday.


INTERESTING STATS

* This is the fifth of six meetings between the two teams. Philadelphia has won three of the four meetings between the teams thus far this season. The Flyers have posted a trio of 3-2 victories, with two coming at CONSOL Energy Center (Oct. 7 and Oct. 29) and one at the Wells Fargo Center (Dec. 14). Pittsburgh's only victory came via a 5-1 defeat of the Flyers in Philadelphia on Oct. 16 behind a pair of goals from Sidney Crosby. In four games, Crosby (2G-4A) and Kris Letang (1G-5A) lead the way for Pittsburgh in the season series with six points each.

* In 14 career appearances in the ‘City of Brotherly Love', Marc-Andre Fleury has posted a 9-4 overall record to accompany his 3.02 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. Fleury is 4-1 in his previous five decisions at the Wells Fargo Center, with his only loss being the Penguins' 3-2 setback on Dec. 14 of this season. Fleury owns a 19-9 career record against the Flyers. In 31 appearances he has posted a 2.70 goals-against average.

* The Penguins enter Thursday's game with the Eastern Conference's third-most road points with 46 (20-10-6). On March 21, the Penguins recorded their 20th road win of the season for the fifth-straight year, tying them with San Jose for the longest active streak in the NHL. Including Thursday, the Penguins have five road games remaining this season. They need to win four of their five remaining road games to equal the franchise record of 24 established in 1992-93.

* Philadelphia currently owns a five-point lead over the Penguins in the race for the Atlantic Division crown. Including Thursday, the Penguins have nine games remaining this season, while Philadelphia has 10. Pittsburgh has three matchups remaining against teams currently positioned in the top-eight of the Eastern Conference playoff field, with two of those coming against the Flyers. Philadelphia will face five potential playoff teams during its final 10 games.

* Of the Penguins' nine games remaining, five are against Atlantic Division foes (Philadelphia, 2; New Jersey, 2; New York Islanders) and all nine are against teams from the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are 8-8-3 this season against the Atlantic Division and 31-19-5 against the East.

* Philadelphia has a 14-3-1 record against Atlantic Division opponents this season, the best record of any NHL team against its own division.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Penalty Kill: The Penguins watched a four-goal lead slip away on Monday against Detroit, with the Red Wings completing their comeback on the strength of two power-play tallies. A similar scenario played out on Sunday against New York Rangers, with a pair of goals on the man-advantage spearheading the Blueshirts' comeback. With top penalty killer Matt Cooke out of the lineup for an extended period of time, the Penguins' other top penalty killers will have to step up and keep the Flyers' power play off the board as points become even more crucial down the stretch.

Beat Them At Their Own Game: The Flyers like to set up in their opponent's offensive 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. All of the Penguins' forward lines have done a fantastic job lately of playing head coach Dan Bylsma's system, which focuses on establishing offensive zone time and controlling the puck down low, and Pittsburgh will need to continue to do that in order to deny Philadelphia time and space.


WHO'S HOT

Jordan Staal - Staal is currently riding a four-game point streak that has seen him tally seven points (3G-4A) over that span. He notched a goal and an assist against both Edmonton March 13 and Ottawa March 15, then went on to score a goal against New York Rangers on March 20 before adding two helpers versus Detroit on March 21. The 22-year-old center has been an absolute workhorse for the Penguins since making his season debut on Jan. 1, as he is skating a career-high 21:11 minutes per game, the ninth-best total among NHL forwards. Staal also has 25 points (10G-15A) over his previous 29 games – a 0.86 point-per-game clip. Those 25 points since Jan. 12 are the most on the team during that span and a team-high during Sidney Crosby's absence.

Claude Giroux - Giroux scored a goal and added an assist in the Flyers' 5-4 shootout loss to Washington on Tuesday, giving him nine points (3G-6A) in his last seven games and 16 points (5G-11A) in his last 14 contests. The 23-year-old center has been enjoying a breakout season, as he leads Philadelphia in both assists (44) and points (68), which each represent new career-highs for Giroux, as do his 24 goals. Giroux is dangerous in all situations, as he is tied for the team lead in both power-play goals (8) and shorthanded goals (3). He also seems to have the Penguins' number, as he's scored five times in 12 career games against Pittsburgh. The Flyers are 15-1-4 when Giroux scores a goal.



Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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