7:00 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Last Penguins Game:
March 4, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Tampa Bay 3 [Recap]
There aren't very many better days as a hockey fan than when your favorite team goes up against the team that you just hate. Now, this isn't talking specifically about rivalry games but just games in general that the opponent your team goes on the ice with you hope they never win a game. For most Penguins fans that is any number of teams that include the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, etc. Well, I would venture to guess that the Flyers top the list for most Penguins fans, including myself. My first thought when I woke up was that it was Pens/Flyers night and while I had a terribly long day at work I get to kick back and watched a pretty good hockey game (I hope).
The last time these two teams played it was an outstanding hockey game. The Penguins ended up losing the game on a pretty brutal goal given up by Tomas Vokoun but as I stated in the day after the game this was the kind of hockey game that you love to watch. Even though the Penguins lost it left me tired after the game and had me running to the bathroom during the commercial break so I made sure not to miss anything. That game was that good. If this game is half as good I will still be pretty happy.
There are a few differences from that game to this game in terms of personel. First is that the Penguins will be trotting out Marc-Andre Fleury in the net for his first game against the Flyers since opening day when the Penguins picked up a 3-1 win. Back for the Flyers is Scott Hartnell who missed the second game of this series this year with a lower body injury. The defense will be a little different for the Penguins with Mark Eaton in the starting lineup and with both Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo in the press box. Paul Martin should be returning also today after missing a few games.
Beau Bennett is going to get an extended look on the second line for the Penguins. To be perfectly honest with you I am not sure off hand how much time he has been getting up until now with the second line but in the past few games Matt Cooke has been getting a large chunk of minutes. This will give Evgeni Malkin and James Neal another offensively skilled player on their line and while Bennett has gripped the stick pretty tight since being called up you would hope he gets into more of a comfort level.
Something that I am looking forward to seeing has to do with Martin being back in the lineup. With Martin back that can shake up the defensive pair so that he can skate with Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang can go back to being paired with Matt Niskanen. It is no secret that Mr. Orpik has been brutally bad the past few games and I think that is in big part due to the fact that Martin has been out of the lineup. I don't know what it is but it seems like that every time that Orpik and Letang have been paired up over the past two season things have gone bad. For the better part of the year Orpik has been playing some good hockey with Martin but when he got paired with Letang when Martin went down he seems like a completely different player. I have no idea what it is and can't really qualify it but it wouldn't shock me one bit to see Orpik play a lot better hockey tonight.
Pittsburgh (15-8-0) (via Penguins wesbite)
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Beau Bennett - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass- Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen - Kris Letang
Mark Eaton - Deryk Engelland
Simon Despres - Robert Bortuzzo
Philadelphia (11-12-1) (via Daily Faceoff)
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Simon Gagne - Sean Couturier - Max Talbot
Zac Rinaldo - Ruslan Fedotenko - Mike Knuble
Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn
Nicklas Grossmann - Braydon Coburn
Erik Gustafsson - Bruno Gervais
The Season Series (Tied 1-1-0)
February 20, 2013 - Philadelphia 6, Pittsburgh 5
January 19, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 1 The Stats: