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Series at a glance: Pittsburgh-Philadelphia playoff preview

Apr 8, 2012, 8:12 PM EST

Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Wednesday April 11 in Pittsburgh @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Friday April 13 in Pittsburgh @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Sunday April 15 in Philadelphia @ 3 p.m. (NBC, TSN)
Wednesday April 18 in Philadelphia @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
*Friday April 20 in Pittsburgh @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
*Sunday April 22 in Philadelphia @ TBD (TBD)
*Tuesday April 24 in Pittsburgh @ TBD (TBD)

Three (actually, four) storylines to follow

1. The health question. Oddly enough, after a season full of injury woes for the Penguins (Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, and others), it’s Philly that’s banged up the worst. Ilya Bryzgalov has a sore foot. Danny Briere‘s out indefinitely. Nicklas Grossman has a lower-body injury. JVR is on the shelf. Ditto for Andrej Meszaros. And of course we all know Chris Pronger is out with a concussion.

2. Deja vu in net? Speaking of Bryzgalov, are the Flyers really that committed to the possibly injured philosopher of the universe? Or will they have another humongous goaltending yo-yo nightmare on their hands? This might not be an easy tiger to wrestle with. (Sorry, re-watched 24/7 recently.)

3. Comfy Consol. The Penguins seem to have a case of “new building syndrome” when it comes to hosting the Flyers. It’s a modern sporting phenomenon, where a team gets a shiny new arena that’s inviting to all, including its opponents. (Just ask Scott Hartnell where he’d rather play.) Philly’s lost exactly one game in six at Consol Energy Center during its first two seasons, and that was Saturday’s meaningless contest.

4. Jagr’s revenge? - OK, cheating by adding a “bonus” storyline here, but one has to mention Jaromir Jagr taking on his former team in the playoffs after breaking a few hearts this summer. Sure, he played against Pittsburgh in his last run in the league with the New York Rangers, yet the (ultimately failed) courting process should make this another fun story to follow.

Records

Pittsburgh: 51-25-6, 108 points (2nd in Atlantic; 4th in Eastern Conference) | Philadelphia: 47-26-9, 103 points (3rd in Atlantic; 5th in Eastern Conference)

Leading scorers

Pittsburgh: Evgeni Malkin (50G-59A-109PTS) | Philadelphia: Claude Giroux (28G-65A-93PTS)

Starting goalies

Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury (42-17-4, 2.36 GAA) | Philadelphia: Ilya Bryzgalov (33-16-7, 2.48 GAA)

Head-to-head

Philadelphia won series 4-2
Dec. 8: At Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2
Dec. 29: Philadelphia 4, at Pittsburgh 2
Feb. 18: Pittsburgh 6, at Philadelphia 4
March 18: At Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2, OT
April 1: Philadelphia 6, at Pittsburgh 4
April 7: At Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 2

Last 10 games

Pittsburgh: 6-4-0 | Philadelphia: 5-4-1

Playoff history

Philadelphia leads 3-2
1989: Philadelphia 4-3 (Patrick Division finals)
1997: Philadelphia 4-1 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)
2000: Philadelphia 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals)
2008: Pittsburgh 4-1 (Eastern Conference finals)
2009: Pittsburgh 4-2 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Pittsburgh: Lost to Tampa 4-3 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals) | Philadelphia: Def. Buffalo 4-3 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals); lost to Boston 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals)

Stanley Cups

Pittsburgh: 3 (1991, 1992, 2009) | Philadelphia: 2 (1974, 1975)

Injuries

Pittsburgh: James Neal (lower-body), Matt Niskanen (upper-body), Steve Sullivan (lower-body) and Ben Lovejoy (knee).

Philadelphia: Danny Briere (back), Nicklas Grossmann (lower-body), James van Riemsdyk (foot), Tom Sestito (groin), Andrej Meszaros (lower-body), Chris Pronger (concussion) and Blair Betts (knee).

  1. kingjoe1 - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    This series will be won by momentum. Both teams have broad talent; all lines score. Obviously the Pens have two superstars which outclass the new superstar in Giroux. The Flyers d-man are stronger, but the Pens goalie is better.

    The young legs of Philly will help but their lack of experience will hurt. After all this, I think the young players will move the Flyers to round 2. 4-2.

    • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:56 PM

      Not so sure about the goalies. Rank these three goalies:

      Goalie 1: GAA 2.67, SV% .909 SO 33
      Goalie 2: GAA 2.68 SV% .909 SO 22
      Goalie 3: GAA 2.52 SV% .915 SO 33

      Goalie 1? Jose Theodore
      Goalie 2? Marc Andre-Fleury
      Goalie 3? Ilya Bryzgalov

      Marc-Andre Fleury is overrated like Jordan Staal. If they weren’t on Pittsburgh they would be recognized as average players.

      • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:56 PM

        Sorry, 29 shutouts for Bryz. Typo.

      • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:42 PM

        What are you even giving a thumbs up/down to? I”m admitting a typo.

      • taytay099 - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:39 PM

        Marc-Andre Fleury can be clutch when it matters, though.

      • iinformeduthusly - Apr 9, 2012 at 5:07 AM

        Sometimes stats can show just how stupid someone really is huh?

        Jordan Staal is amazing on the PK and a top 6 player on every NHL team except the Pens.

        Utterly moronic kid

      • iinformeduthusly - Apr 9, 2012 at 5:09 AM

        And oh yes, how many finals has one of them been to vs the others?

        You do understand that playoffs are a completely different monster and all those garbage regular season stats are meaningless right?

      • napoleonblownapart6887 - Apr 9, 2012 at 9:30 AM

        First of all, I think Fleury is a very good goalie and definitely a gamer. Is he elite? Depends on your definition I suppose. If you define it as the top 5 goalies in the NHL over the course of a season then no, I don’t consider him elite. But if you had to pick a goalie to win you a playoff series, or to ride into the playoffs, then would I pick MAF in the top 5? Probably I would.

        As for your comment about Jordan Staal, frankly I don’t get it. What is overrated about this guy exactly?

        He is one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, he put up 25 goals and 50 points this year, despite missing 6 weeks of the season, and he’s only 23 years old. Who wouldn’t want a guy like that?

  2. agc99 - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Go Pens

  3. phillyphever - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Bryz is fine. He could of (and should of IMO) played yesterday, but they held him out just to be safe. Grossmann should be back for game 1. Getting Briere back during the series would be a bonus. Either way, I say Flyers in 6, with Pittsburgh winning games 2 and 5.

    • bobhpine - Apr 10, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      *could have

  4. dembois - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Flyers in 9

  5. philly4lyfe - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Flyers in 5

  6. num1eaglesfanyo - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Im a huge flyers fan and cannot wait for this series! I honestly don’t know who will win but im sure it will b over in 7. Go Flyers!

  7. taytay099 - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    I’m so excited for this series, but I really hope Crosby doesn’t grow a playoff beard.

    • letangusespertplus - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      Don’t want your mom and sister to have scratches on their inner thighs?

      • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:41 PM

        Alright, that was funny.

      • taytay099 - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:11 PM

        Goddamn, that was good. +1 for you.

      • letangusespertplus - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:13 PM

        Don’t embrace this fellas. I have an annoying reputation to uphold!!!

      • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:21 PM

        first time for everything. One day you might even make an intelligent point!

      • letangusespertplus - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:23 PM

        that aint my game. thats up to you fools who think anyone cares about your opinions.

    • Buffalo Grumblings - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      he can’t.

  8. rj2922 - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    Flyers in 6. They just seem to have the Pens number lately

  9. napoleonblownapart6887 - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    It’s going to be a hell of a series. I think this will come down to secondary scoring for both teams. Everyone knows about Malkin Giroux Crosby Hartnell Neal etc. I think the series will we won by a Pascal Dupuis or a Wayne Simmonds type player who turns it on and steals a game or two.

    Pens in 6

  10. sportsinhd - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Whoever wins this series plays in the Stanley Cup Finals, no offense to the Rangers, but I think these are the two best teams in the East. Crosby and Malkin will be the difference in this series, and the Pens will win in seven.

    • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 8:59 PM

      If you’re gonna say “in 7″ you may as well not pick a team. You either said a team that could win a game 6 facing elimination can’t win a game 7 facing elimination, or you figure a team that couldn’t put the opponent away in game 6 can do it in game 7.

      Either way, just say “this series will come down to one game, and I have no idea.”

      • bobhpine - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:14 PM

        or you could just say penguins in seven because you ascribe importance to home ice and last change advantage…you aren’t very smart

      • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:23 PM

        you’re assuming the Flyers are down 3-2 then, what if the Flyers were up 3-2 and lost at home? The point is, once it’s game 7, you’re just guessing.

  11. epictron1 - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    The biggest key here is the goalies. Bryzgalov’s had a 2.59 GAA and a .913 save %, while Fleury had a 3.41 GAA and a .874 save %.

    The series in my opinion is all on Fleury.

    • bmscalise - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:22 PM

      You do realize those numbers for Flower were only for the games the Pens blew against the Sens, Isles, etc. in the last couple of weeks. (I think anyway, since who knows where you’ve plucked the numbers you’ve misrepresented from.) For the year, he’s had a 2.36 and 0.913 – better than Bryz.

      And Flower’s been fantastic all year, minus that little slump. His numbers are lower than other goalies because the style the Pens play is really aggressive: it allows the Pens to average 4-5 goals a game but grants the opposition some really good chances. Anyone who doesn’t realize he’s elite either doesn’t watch the Pens often or doesn’t understand hockey.

      You are right, though, to say he’ll be the difference. He was the difference in 2009 and will be the difference this time too.

      • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 10:51 PM

        This comment assumes the Pens defense, which allowed the fourth least shots in the league, is bad. This argument is false. MAF is not and never has been an elite goalie. During the Pens Cup run he had a .908 SV%. He wasn’t and isn’t elite. He is protected by an offense that controls the puck and eliminates opportunities by the opposition. The argument that he allows a run and gun style is ridiculous and made by people trying to defend the awful pick the Pens made.

        Please stop.

      • epictron1 - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:30 PM

        The stats that I gave were his season stats against the Flyers this year. He’s struggled against the Flyers this year, and if you don’t believe that you are truly blind.

      • bmscalise - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:32 PM

        I never said the Pens defense was bad, and I never said it gives up a lot of shots, neither of which is true. But the Pens best defensemen are puck movers, who skate well and have a good first pass. They allow the Pens to have a extremely quick transition game and why they are a superb rush team.

        But this is a perfect example of when stats don’t tell the whole story: the Pens minimize shots by holding the puck the majority of the time. But the defense, because it is so aggressive, quite frequently allows opposing forwards to get behind them or coughs up the puck. When they give up shots, they are often very high quality. My comments aren’t even novel and they are spot on.

        Fleury is a top five goalie in the league, by the assessment of most national commentators. And I would bank money on him starting for Canada in Sochi. I remember Jeff Carter went on NHL Live in 2009 crying about how they had only lost the series because of a “hot goalie” – because I laughed my butt off. And I have every reason to think it will be so again.

        So please stop.

      • psujay - Apr 8, 2012 at 11:44 PM

        I’m not from the US, so whatever national media you’re mentioning, please let me know. Please don’t say Lebrun or Burnside, you might as well say Peter Gammons thinks a Red Sox Pitcher is better than his stats.

        There is nothing that could happen where you would accept anything other than he’s a top 5 goalie in the league. I get it. Let’s just run through some goalies better than MAF: Lunqvist, Quick, Thomas, Miller, Smith, Luongo (the goalue who won the gold while Fleury couldn’t make it on the ice), Kippy, Rinne…where does MAF belong in that class? No where. If he were on the Islanders he’d be Montoya.

        http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?fetchKey=20122ALLGAGAll&sort=savePercentage&viewName=goalsAgainstAverage

        Hes’ 28th this year. No objective metric places him anywhere in the top 10, let alone the top 5. He’s average.

      • fbothharbaughs - Apr 9, 2012 at 6:44 AM

        @ psujay…”MAF is not and never has been an elite goalie.”? Because you say so?? Since the Pens drafted Fleury, how many goalies have the Flyers been through? & could you honestly say that you’d rather have the stiffs that cost you the cup in ’10 against the ‘Hawks in net?

        And of all the goalies you mentioned that have better stats than Fleury, only one has as many cups. If you were to ask ANY canadian (especially a Vancouver-ian? Vancouver-ite?) who deserved to be in between the pipes in the Olympics…?

        Although the fact the games were played in Vancouver probably had nuthin’ to do w/that decision…

  12. murtdurt - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Pens in 6 after joe vitale lays out jagr in their building

  13. farvefromover - Apr 8, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Crosby grows facial hair like Snoopys cousin

  14. bobhpine - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    Nitpick fleury all you want…what did Ilya bryzgalov ever win… Right nothing… Enjoy that clown for the next decade

  15. pensswag91 - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    I don’t understand all the Fleury knocking going on here. Sure his stats aren’t topping the league year after year, but he’s clutch. Last year, with both Malkin and Crosby out with injury, he backstopped the Pens to a playoff berth. I’ll take Fleury’s 69 playoffs games and a Stanley Cup over Bryz’s 27, and no cup any day. Fleury is a clutch goalie who makes big saves when it really counts; while Bryzgalov is as over-hyped as they come.

  16. iluvwikileaks - Apr 9, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    The last time the Flyers won the Cup, ABBA had just broken big in the states:)

    • ml3939 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Yeah, it is a shame the Flyers were not irrelevant for almost their first 25 years of existence, did not intentionally lose games to draft Lemieux or suck so bad that they had the opportunity to draft 1st or 2nd in four consecutive drafts.

      • iluvwikileaks - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

        You’re a liar. But, I’ll let it go this time.
        Pens have 3 Cups in 4 appearnces in last 20 years.

      • ml3939 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:31 AM

        Please, let me know what I lied about.

      • iluvwikileaks - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        Prove games were intentially lost.
        The 25 years of irrelevance is an exaggeration. May 20. But, not 25.

      • ml3939 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

        They never made it past the second round in their first 23 seasons. Common math rules would dicatate round 23 up to 25 as opposed to down to 20.

        As for the intentional losing, read your local paper-

        http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/04088/292486.stm

        “The old coach admits it all now, even if the old GM hedges. They tanked it.”

      • ml3939 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

        They never made it past the second round in their first 23 seasons. Common math rules would dictate round 23 up to 25 as opposed to down to 20.

        As for the intentional losing, read your local paper-

        http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/04088/292486.stm

        “The old coach admits it all now, even if the old GM hedges. They tanked it.”

      • ml3939 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        The best you can do is thumbs down to the truth?

  17. bergeronforselke - Apr 9, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    I don’t see the Flyers winning this series mainly cause I hate them and want them to lose……badly but let’s hope for an injury-filled affair for both sides.

    • taytay099 - Apr 9, 2012 at 7:19 AM

      Why would you hope for injuries? Are you happy to see Savard and Horton out with severe concussions?

      • bergeronforselke - Apr 9, 2012 at 8:46 AM

        Yeah, i guess i’m just a d1ck but i really don’t like philly or pitt. Maybe its because they had something to do with those injuries

  18. benzoids - Apr 9, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Hartnell says it will be a bloodbath? If Crosby had said that, Berube and Laviolette would be defacating bricks right now and saying what a dirty player he is. God, I hate Philly and their arrogance!

  19. hartsy19 - Apr 9, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    $5 says Crosberries thinks the Pens take the series in 2 games… And wikileaks is too high to get here to make his prediction.

  20. stairwayto7 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    Malkin and Crosby will ight up Bryzgalov! Pens in 6

  21. myspaceyourface - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    I’m a Pens fan here, but I think Philly/Pens fans can agree on one thing. This being the opening series of the playoffs is brutal. They are going to beat each other up and I think that hurts whoever moves on to the next round. Let’s go Pens.

    • CoreyFlyersHockey - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:44 PM

      I couldn’t agree more… this would be a great conf. finals matchup… series is going to be very entertaining… just bad luck to meet up as a round 1. go flyers

  22. iluvwikileaks - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    The last time the Flyers won the Cup:

    The Vietnam War was still going on.
    Tiger Woods was born.
    Bruce Springsteen releases “Born to Run” album.
    Gerald Ford was tripping over himself

    • ml3939 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      I guess if you are gonna post the same lame jokes, I will continue posting the truth.

      Yeah, it is a shame the Flyers were not irrelevant for almost their first 25 years of existence, did not intentionally lose games to draft Lemieux or suck so bad that they had the opportunity to draft 1st or 2nd in four consecutive drafts.

  23. epictron1 - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    The “Last Time the Flyers Won a Cup” jokes are so original! Who knew you only had to have to have a team suck so bad that they need to have the first overall pick 3 out of 4 years. Where were all you fans when the Penguins were about to be sold and moved?

    • iluvwikileaks - Apr 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      Looks like I hit a nerve:)

    • fam5578 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      You make it sound like all you need is draft picks to win..
      Islanders, Maple Leafs, Former Thrashers have had high drafts picks for years and you haven’t seen them move up in the standings. Also you left out the part of resigning players, just because you draft them doesn’t mean after the rookie contract expires they want to stay, Pens were able to resign many multi-million dollar contracts and keep many of hockeys big names in Pittsburgh.

      • ml3939 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        It must have been real tough to judge what type of talent Lemeiux was gonna be when the team that drafted him was willing to put integrity aside and lose games to draft him. And I would love to meet the risk taker in the Pens front office who drafted can’t miss talent like MAF, Malkin and Crosby. I imagine there were better players to be had than Staal in his draft but he certainly is not a bust. And unless I am missing something young star players do not tend to walk in hockey after their rookie contract expires. The Pens aren’t doing anything different than any other team to retain their young players.

  24. aglumac - Apr 9, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    All MAF does is win games, last time I checked, thats what takes home the cup, not which goalie has the best stats in the playoffs. Philly played some of the diritest grimiest hockey this year against the Pens cause that was the only way that they could win. Constant garbage after the whistle on almost every play, and for being the “bullies” every time they actually dropped the gloves, they got their faces beat in. I enjoy playing Philly, I love the rivalry, it makes it all the more fun, but lets call a spade a spade. On another note, respect the way Hartnell plays, as for the rest of them have fun going home in 5.

  25. whatsername58 - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Anyone know if NBC is going to stream the Pens-Flyers game online for those of us who don’t have cable? Hope so…

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