Gameday #24: @ Philadelphia FlyersPosted: 07/03/2013
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS @ Philadelphia Flyers
Wells Fargo Center, 7:00PM, Root Sports, NHL Network (local blackout)
Today marks the 50% mark of this abbreviated season. At the macro level the season is going according to plan for the Penguins: first in the division and second in the conference.
Unfortunately if you’ve watched the Pens at all this year you know that the record is at least a little misleading: the Penalty Kill is well off pace from recent years, Tomas Vokoun has not made the expected impact in the net, and occasionally the whole team gets brain zapped in the defensive zone.
Still it could be worse, if you’re the Philadelphia Flyers you are not a playoff team, you’re in 9th place in the conference, your self-proclaimed best player in the world has barely been the third or fourth best player on the team, and your signature win twice saw the opponent come back from 2 goal deficits.
And that’s the thing about these two teams, they aren’t nearly as close to one another as they have been in recent years and that’s the key for the Pens to remember tonight. If they just play the game, they will win, if they try to match the Flyers physically they greatly hurt their chances. It really is that simple.
The Pens get Paul Martin back, and Simon Despres will step out of the lineup. Would have loved to see Despres get a shot with Mark Eaton, just like Kris Letang did in his first couple of years. You may have heard, but Beau Bennett is expected to play essentially the full game with Geno and Nealer. And before anyone has the opportunity to throw a hissy fit, MAF will be in the cage for the ‘Guins.
The Flyers have a bunch of injuries and Harry Zolniercyzk is suspended for being a douche. Since the last time these two teams met, however, the Flyers did acquire an old friend, Simon Gagne. Always would have liked to see him in a Penguins sweater. Oh well.
In unrelated news the NHLPA just announced that they have approved the most recent realignment proposition which will see Columbus and Detroit move east while the Jets move west. Assuming the Board of Governors do the same, the Pens’ “conference” now will look like this:
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
Get your popcorn ready, Pens will be going to war every night.
Just play hockey. Go Pens.