GAME PREVIEW: Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Game: The Philadelphia Flyers look to bounce back from a loss Thursday to Tampa Bay as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers enter this game, as I said above, a loser in their last game by a 3-2 margin to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning as Simon Gagne extracted some revenge against his former club.  The loss gave the Flyers their first regulation loss of the season, dropping them to 2-1-1 overall in 2010-2011.  It hasn’t been quite as smooth sailing for the visiting Penguins, who are playing the second half of back to back contests this evening in Philadelphia.  Last night, Pittsburgh got their first ever win at the CONSOL Energy Center by a score of 3-2 over the New York Islanders.  They previously were 0-3-0 at their new home digs, and had only won one game so far this season entering last night: a 3-1 victory over a short-manned Devils team in Newark.  Still, the Pens are now 2-3-0 on the season and looking to build off a big victory for them last night.

The Story: There aren’t many better Flyers games to be at these days then when the Flyers take on the Penguins.  The rivalry is a deep and bloody one, with the Pens having the better of play between the two sides recently.  However, unlike last season when Pittsburgh destroyed the Flyers head-to-head, winning five of the six games and only dropping one, it was the Flyers who took the opening night contest this season to open up the regular season slate in their favor.  That game was played at the CONSOL Energy Center.  Tonight’s contest comes from the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, and it’s a good bet you’ll be seeing quite a bit of animosity between the two sides throughout the game tonight.  Entering the contest, the Flyers still sit atop the Atlantic Division despite their tough loss last game, but the Penguins and Islanders are only one point behind.  The Flyers can extend their lead in the division with a win tonight. 

Tangradi returns home tonight

Who to Watch on the Penguins: Eric Tangradi, Center.

Not Crosby?  Not Malkin?  Actually, no.  Tonight marks the homecoming of Philadelphia-born and raised Eric Tangradi back to the City of Brotherly Love.  I was a former teammate of Tangradi’s on both the Wintersport Royals and Valley Forge Minutemen and was actually a linemate of his for quite a long time (we can see who made out better).  It’ll definitely be hard for Tangradi to keep his emotions in check tonight, going up against his hometown team, but I feel that Tanger will be up for the challenge.  He’s been working on a line recently with Mark Letestu and Evgeni Malkin, so being the imposing power forward he is, he could generate some pressure around the Flyer goal tonight.  Oh, and not to mention: last night against the Islanders, Tangradi notched his first career NHL goal.  His confidence level will be sky-high at puckdrop tonight.

The Skinny: Second match-up of the season between the Flyers and Pens, with the Flyers taking a 3-2 decision on October 7th in Pittsburgh in the season opener for both teams.  The Penguins did not lose a regular season game in Philadelphia last season, winning on all three occasions they made a stop at the then Wachovia Center.  Sidney Crosby has destroyed the Flyers when he plays them in South Philadelphia.  In 16 regular season games on Broad Street, Crosby has 11 goals and 25 points.  And he wonders why we hate him.

Notes: The Flyers’ Official Twitter announced that Peter Laviolette has made Sergei Bobrovsky the starting goaltender for the Flyers in tonight’s contest.  Bobrovsky is 2-0-0 in two starts this season with a 2.00 GAA and a .931 Save %.  Brent Johnson started in net last night in the Penguins win against New York, so look for Marc-Andre Fleury to tend goal tonight for Pittsburgh.  The Cup-winning goaltender has had a rough go at it so far this season, going 0-3-0 with a 3.41 GAA and an .853 Save %.  Translation for the Flyers: GET PUCKS ON NET EARLY AND OFTEN.  The Flyers are an abysmal 1-for-17 on the powerplay this season, something that will need to change if they are going to beat the Penguins tonight.  Puck drop has been changed to 6:00PM to alleviate congestion in the sports complex with Game One of the NLCS taking place across the street at Citizens Bank Park.

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