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NHL on NBC: Penguins, Flyers battle for home-ice advantage

Mar 31, 2012, 10:31 PM EDT

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 18: Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Philadelphia Flyers battles in the corner with Zbynek Michalek #4 of the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 18, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers went on to defeat the Penguins 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers seem poised for a first-round playoff matchup, but Sunday’s game (12:30 pm ET, NBC) is more than just a preview of what’s to come. Only three points separate the Penguins and Flyers and they’re scheduled to play each other twice in their final four games. Ultimately, they’re fighting for home ice advantage in the first round, which is a big deal considering that both teams have been dominant while playing at home.

Philadelphia has been one of the most offensively gifted teams in the league this season. Claude Giroux has not only proven that his 2010-11 breakout campaign wasn’t a fluke, he’s managed to set new career-highs in goals, assists and points. Meanwhile, Scott Hartnell is having one of the best seasons of his career and has been one of the league’s top all-around forwards this season — no one else has at least 35 goals, 100 penalty minutes, and 100 hits.

Beyond their top two scorers, Philly has a terrific supporting cast led by Jaromir Jagr, who has proven he still has what it takes to play in the NHL after spending three seasons in the KHL.

Still, for as many offensive weapons as the Flyers have, the Penguins outdo them in that department. Sidney Crosby is a huge threat now that he’s healthy, but he just represents the tip of the iceberg. The Penguins have five players with at least 20 goals, including two of the top-four leading goal scorers in Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. In fact, starting with their game against Boston on March 11, Pittsburgh has found the back of the net at least three times in 10 of their last 11 games. The one exception was on March 18 when the Penguins ran into the only goaltender that has been able to stand up to them lately: Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov.

The problem is that Bryzgalov has a chip fracture in his foot, so he’ll either be playing through the pain on Sunday or, more likely, sitting out of the contest. In either scenario, the Flyers defenders will need to do their part if they want to beat the Penguins and give themselves a legitimate shot at the fourth seed.

  1. num1eaglesfanyo - Apr 1, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    GenoPringles is a douche for whatever he says below me. Go Flyers!

  2. ml3939 - Apr 1, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    Genopringles should be banned for making nothing but inane comments.

  3. papamcgin - Apr 1, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Even if they don’t get home ice, the pens are too deep to lose to the Flyers in the playoffs. Next story.

  4. abrienza428 - Apr 1, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    “Ultimately, they’re fighting for home ice advantage in the first round, which is a big deal considering that both teams have been dominant while playing at home.”

    The Flyers have been dominant at home?

  5. jobotjones - Apr 1, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    I don’t care who Philly puts in the cage the Pens have to come out hot. They can’t continue to lose to philly at home.

    Let’s Go Pens!

  6. kgun80 - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Watching this game now.. All I can think is the NHL is a joke.. Pittsburg has the most talented roster in the league. But the refs still feel the need to coddle the Pens.. No calls and BS pp handed to them does no one see this?!!! Its BS

    • kellyb9 - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      If they don’t call these bs penalties, the Pens will probably just start diving all over the ice looking for tripping calls, and nobody really wants to watch that.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      How about those sucker punches to Giroux’s head? Malkin gets away with nonsense like that all the time. And the knee-to-knee Grossmann received? Yea, there is a bias.

      • kellyb9 - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:50 PM

        Or Crosby’s slash… you know it’s bad when these guys on NBC are pointing out the non-calls.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 1, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        My point KB. It’s obvious that Bettman has favored the Pens starting with Lemiux and now with Crosby. It’s ridiculous.

  7. hudsomania - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Let’s go Pens!

    • kellyb9 - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      lol not today

  8. chefklm - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    5-2 Flyers!!!!!

    Suck it Geno P*ssy…..

  9. phillyphan83 - Apr 1, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    5-2!!!!!!! Yeah flyers can’t beat the Pens, they’re too deep. Kept thinkin like this, I love it when my teams aren’t given the respect they deserve. BTW were not even using Ilya!! haha u losers!

  10. phillyphan83 - Apr 1, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    6-3 put it in the bag! suck it pens!!!

  11. philly4lyfe - Apr 1, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Someone better call Cindy a whambulance. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ='(

  12. johnnysox - Apr 1, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Love that NBC feed, showing 4 replays of the Schenn crosscheck on Crosby…..

    but only 1 of Crosby’s 2 slashes and Malkin’s 2 punches to Giroux’s head…..

    Stay classy, Pittsburgh….

    can’t wait for next Saturday

  13. chefklm - Apr 1, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Typical classless Sh*ttsburgh, get your butts handed to you and then get cheap & dirty…. You will have a receipt comin’……

  14. philly4lyfe - Apr 1, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Yeah the pens are too good to lose to us, that’s why we’re 4-1 against them this season…

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