February 20, 2013
Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL's fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers will head to the Consol Energy Center for a match against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Few rivalries have been more intense than that of the Penguins and Flyers in recent years.
The two teams have met in the playoffs three times in the previous five years and their most recent series in 2012 had just about everything – except maybe goaltending. They scored a combined 56 goals in just six games.
That's not hard to believe when you look at the elite forwards on either squad. This season though, only one of the two teams have lived up to expectations.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten off to an 11-5-0 start thanks in no small part to the continued success that forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal have enjoyed. However, they've also gotten a couple pleasant surprises, like Chris Kunitz recording 14 points in his last nine games.
The Flyers have had surprises too, but not all of them good.
Part of Philadelphia's struggles can be blamed on injuries, but, as captain Claude Giroux put it, there have been plenty of times when the Flyers have just gone through the motions.
Their shaky start has led to questions about GM Paul Holmgren or head coach Peter Laviolette's job security. That prompted team president Peter Lukko to stand up for the GM and coach while also preaching a message of patience.
A mere day later, the Philadelphia Flyers responded to that vote of confidence with a crushing 7-0 victory over the New York Islanders.
Of course, that was just one game and it was against a team that's not typically held in high regard. Crosby and the Penguins will be a much tougher test, but you can count the Flyers putting everything they have into this contest.
Probable goaltenders: PIT – Marc-Andre Fleury (8-3-0, 2.34 GAA, .914 SV%) | PHI – Ilya Bryzgalov (7-7-1, 2.42 GAA, .911 SV%)
Top scorers: PIT – Crosby (7-17-24, 16 GP) | PHI – Jakub Voracek (3-12-15, 17 GP)
Pittsburgh – Forwards: None
Philadelphia – Forwards: Jody Shelley (hip), Scott Hartnell (foot) Defensemen: Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion), Chris Pronger (concussion) Goaltenders: Michael Leighton (finger)