Better know a division rival: The Philadelphia Flyers
Record: 5-6-3 (13 points, fourth in the Atlantic Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference)
Season series: 1-0 Pens --3-2 over-time win in Pittsburgh on 14/14 by the Pens [Orpik, Zigomanis and Dupuis your unusual goal-scorers]
Notable wins: New Jersey (twice), NY Islanders (twice)
Notable losses: San Jose, Tampa Bay, NY Rangers
Key injuries: Danny Briere (sand in vagina)
Last game: 3-1 win Tuesday night at the Islanders
Statistical star: Mike Richards [5 goals, 12 assists for 17 points, +2 in 14 games]
Disappointment so far: Tyler Kennedy's punching bag Scottie Upshall [1 g, 3a for 4 points, -3 in 14 games]
Notable Notes: Don’t let the 13th place fool you, a win tonight and the Flyers could jump as high as 8th place, they’re right in the thick of things….18 year old rookie Luca Sbisa has been impressive earning a regular spot on an NHL blue-line…Come to think of it, only three defensemen from last season’s playoff series (Kimmo Timonen, Lasse Kukkonen and Braydon Coburn) will be in the lineup tonight for Philly….The Penguins are out-shooting opponents 36-8 in the 3rd period of their last two games…Mike Richards has just 2 goals in 23 regular season games against the Pens….Marty “French Toast” Biron is sporting some Osgood-esque numbers; a 89.0% save percentage and a GAA well north of 3 (3.29).
It’s been a rollercoaster this season for the Flyers: they lost their first six games (three of them in OT/shootout) but then won the next four…Then they dropped three games but they just won on Tuesday, is this their turn upwards or can the Pens kick a hated division rival while they’re under .500? You try to figure this team out, it been tough to so far.
For the Penguins, after what’s been the biggest win of their young season, it’ll be interesting to see if the emotion fuels them to a good effort or if some players will be drained and not moving so well. Defensemen Rob Scuderi is looking like a no-go, so Mark Eaton will get a chance to not suck it up out there tonight. How the defensive holds will be critical, Philly is a good transition team that picks and chooses their spots and can jump out to opportunistic goals as well as any team in the East.
TST Opposing Player to Watch: Simon Gagne
--Gagne isn’t hurt (yet) and he’s had a great year, second on his team with 8 goals and 8 assists. Gagne also has been a thorn in the Pens side, scoring 35 points [16g, 19a] in 42 career games against. With Briere nursing his vagina, Gagne can’t fall apart just yet on the Flyers.
TST Homeboy of the Game: Evgeni Malkin
--Malkin and countrymen Alex “Deadwood” Semin are playing quite the game of one-upping each other this season. It seems they’re swapping the NHL points lead almost every single night, and last night’s 5 point Semin explosion (heh) puts him three up on Geno. Malkin is riding the league’s longest point streak of the year (11) and has registered a point in every game but one….The contest against the Flyers.
Rare game prediction!
[Goals by Malkin (2), Sykora, Satan and Letang]