7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
For a lot of people this has been a game that has been circled on the calender (both figuratively and literally) since the schedule came out before the season. If you are looking for tickets then you better be willing to vastly overpay to see one of the best Penguins of all time, Jaromir Jagr, and a key piece to the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup run, Max Talbot, return to Pittsburgh for the first time since joining the Philadelphia Flyers over the off season.
If you follow me on twitter (which, why wouldn't you?) you probably know how I feel about these two guys returning to Pittsburgh tonight. While I expect there to be a massive amount of booing (for at least Jagr) that is something I wouldn't be doing. Talbot was a staple of this Penguins team for some time and if it wasn't his gritty play on the ice it was the funny (albeit sometimes sick) stories of him partying on the Southside. He got offered a boatload of money by the Flyers and he took it. He was overpaid for a job that he wasn't very good at for the most part but I can't get mad at a guy who took the money, even if it was to play for Philadelphia. It was a business decision and I can respect that as I would not expect him to be mad at me for moving to a rival company if they doubled my pay. As I said before the rivalry thing is brought into the Talbot situation and he was viewed as a traitor. I have said it a few times but rivalries are much more important to the fans than they are to players. If it was that important to the players then Talbot wouldn't have signed there just like Asham wouldn't have signed with the Penguins.
When talking about Jagr it is really murky. He didn't leave Pittsburgh on the best terms when he went to Washington and was hated when he came back to the Mellon Arena as a Ranger he was booed every time he touched the puck. After he played in Europe for a few years Penguins fans really got back on his bandwagon to get him back to the Burgh and Jagr made it seem like he wanted to be back. You all know how things went this off season and that brought back a ton of hate.
First let me tell you that I don't have a problem with people booing. You bought the ticket and you can do what you want but I will not agree with it. Jagr is probably the second best player to put on a Penguins sweater. Ever. He has done so much for this city that it is hard to put into words. Would it had been nice to have JJ back this year? Hell yea, but again he was a free agent and thought he had a better chance in Philadelphia. Also during the whole time where there was #jagrwatch and the media largely blew it out of proportion like Jagr was definitely coming to Pittsburgh and when he didn't the anger was already in place. Not for me though. I don't think anything could happen where I would boo Jagr, but that is just me. When people think of Jagr they think of him as a Penguins player. I still think of the times I got to see him growing up and watching the highlights of the stuff I was too young to remember.
All in all I would rather the booing be for the Flyers and not just for Max and Jags. This game is much more than those two, this is against the Flyers and they are ahead of the Penguins in the standings and a win is more important than anything else. Eff the Flyers. Lets Go Pens.
The Flyers can be a scary good team even without Chris Pronger. They score a ton of goals and while their top goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov, hasn't been playing well they will start Sergei Bobrovsky who plays very well in Pittsburgh and overall holds a 2.17 GAA and a .926 save percentage in five games.
Claude Giroux is an absolute monster for the Flyers and is one of the best players in the game right now. He is paired on a line with Jagr who has been very good all year. It is going to take a great game from the defense and Marc Andre Fleury.
The Penguins have been playing well winning the last four games while the Flyers are 7-3-0 in the last 10 games. Evgeni Malkin is hot as he has 18 points (6+12) in his last eight games where he has registered a point in each of those games. James Neil also has an eight game streak where he has 11 points (7+4) and has scored in his last four.
The season series (Philadelphia leads 1-0):
December 8, 2011 - Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 1
No idea why a single highlight of the game isn't on YouTube.
The Penguins probables:
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Pascal Dupuis - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Steve Sullivan
Arron Asham - Craig Adams - Jason Williams
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Zbynek Michalek
Alexandre Picard - Ben Lovejoy
Marc Andre Fleury
The Flyers probables:
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Matt Read - Daniel Briere - Wayne Simmond
James van Riemsdyk - Maxime Talb - Jakub Voracek
Brayden Schenn - Sean Couturier - Harry Zolnierczyk
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bourdon
Andreas Lilja - Andrew Meszaros