Hockey is back, and back in a big way. With Saturday being the kickoff to the NHL (48-game) schedule, there are many key matchups on the docket. None may be as big as the Penguins and Flyers.
When and where: Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia, PA); 3 p.m. est (NBC)
Last meeting: The Penguins’ 2011-2012 season came to a close at the hands of the Flyers with a 4-2 series loss.
Season series: First meeting this season.
1. Flyers power play vs. Penguins penalty kill: During last season’s playoff series, the Flyers power play was nearly unstoppable. Last season, the Flyers had the sixth-best power play in the league (19.7%). The Penguins responded with the third-best penalty kill (87.8%). The Penguins will look to put an end to the Flyers’ power play success early and often.
2. Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik vs. Flyers top line: During training camp, Dan Bylsma announced that he would pair defensemen Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik together, and use them as a shutdown pair. They will be looked towards to control Claude Giroux and the Flyer’s top line.
1. Pascal Dupuis is carrying a 17-game points scoring streak into this matchup.
2. No Jagr, no Pronger, no Briere: During the offseason, Jaromir Jagr left the Flyers for the Dallas Stars at the tune of $4.55 million for one year. Former team captain, Chris Pronger, has still not recovered from a concussion he sustained last season, and it appears he won’t be returning any time soon. Finally, the Flyers will also be without Danny Briere for at least the start of the season with a hairline fracture to his wrist.
Former Penguins alert: Max Talbot, Ruslan Fedotenko
Projected lines (via prohockeytalk.com):
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis
Eric Tangradi-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal
Matt Cooke-Brandon Sutter-Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass-Dustin Jeffrey (via @Dejan_Kovacevic)-Craig Adams
Matt Niskanen-Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik-Paul Martin
Simon Despres-Deryk Engelland
Scott Hartnell-Claude Giroux-Brayden Schenn
Max Talbot- Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Wayne Simmonds-Scott Laughton-Matt Read
Ruslan Fedotenko-Eric Wellwood-Zac Rinaldo
Braydon Coburn-Nicklas Grossman
Kimmo Timonen-Luke Schenn
Andrej Meszaros-Kurtis Foster