New Castle News


April 7, 2012

NHL Hockey: Pens, Flyers weighing how to play finale

NEW CASTLE — Flying sticks. Pointed fingers. Postgame putdowns. And that was just the coaches.

What can the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers possibly do in today’s regular-season finale to top their last meeting, a 6-4 Flyers win at Consol Energy Center this week that served as a preview of what will be a contentious first-round playoff series?

The smart answer might be nothing.

For all the bad blood between the two rivals, each knows there’s too much to risk and little to gain if they spend 60 minutes (or more) trying to rattle the other. The Penguins have already clinched the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and will have home ice advantage against the fifth-seeded Flyers when the playoffs begin next week.

Neither team wants to risk injury to a star player or the threat of discipline if things get out of hand.

No wonder Philadelphia center Claude Giroux thinks it’s going to be “weird knowing the game doesn’t mean anything.”

Unlike their last meeting, which included a last-minute brawl, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette calling Pittsburgh counterpart Dan Bylsma “gutless” and led NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury to label Penguins star Sidney Crosby “a punk” and a “goody two-shoes” while appearing on a Philadelphia radio station.

Milbury later apologized. Don’t expect the same kind of backtracking from Philadelphia assistant coach Craig Berube, who described Crosby and teammate Evgeni Malkin as the “dirtiest players on their team.”

The Penguins have tried to take the trash-talking in stride. Besides, the Flyers aren’t the only opponent with an axe to grind. New York coach John Tortorella called Pittsburgh “one of the most arrogant organizations in the league” following a 5-2 Penguins win Thursday that included Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik getting a 5-minute major penalty for a knee-to-knee collision with New York forward Derek Stepan.

“They whine about this stuff all the time, and look what happens,” Tortorella said. “It’s ridiculous. But they’ll whine about something else over there, won’t they, starting with their two ... stars.”

Orpik was not disciplined by the league for the hit and the Penguins and their normally reserved captain are ready to put a week of withering criticism behind them as the real season begins.

“It really is garbage,” Crosby said. “It’s nonsense and if they want to do it great, but I’m not going to waste my time answering questions about it all the time. It’s getting pretty old.”

Maybe, but it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Though Pittsburgh has arguably been the best team in the NHL since Jan. 1, the Penguins have been unable to deal with the Flyers. Philadelphia has won four of the five meetings this season and is unbeaten at Consol Energy Center since the arena opened in 2010.

The winner today would seem to have momentum, though Philadelphia forward and former Pittsburgh star Jaromir Jagr doesn’t think there will be much carryover no matter what happens.

“(The) playoffs is totally different,” Jagr said. “You start from 0 - 0 ... Sometimes you are kind of lucky all year against one team, but playoffs are totally different.”

That explains why the Penguins are focused on tuning out all the rhetoric.

Though his counterparts have felt the urge to express their frustration and call out his team, Bylsma has remained tight-lipped. All the gamesmanship in the world will be forgotten once the puck drops next week.

“In every series, and the series coming up, one team will win four games, there will be a handshake,” Bylsma said. “One side will wish the other side luck in the next round. The other side will go on.”

The healthiest team will likely be the one that survives, which leaves Bylsma and Laviolette faced with some decisions to make in the finale. Bylsma wouldn’t say yesterday whether he would play Malkin or goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, both on the precipice of significant milestones.

Malkin, the NHL’s leading scorer, is one goal away from reaching 50 for the first time in a season while Fleury’s next victory will break Tom Barrasso’s mark for career wins.

The Penguins likely will play without forwards James Neal and Steve Sullivan, who are nursing what the team termed as minor issues. Bylsma expects both to be ready for the playoffs.

The Flyers aren’t quite so settled.

Defenseman Nicklas Grossman is day-to-day with a lower body injury while forward Daniel Briere is out indefinitely. Both players went down in the win over Pittsburgh last Sunday, with Briere’s injury coming on a tough but clean hit from Penguins center Joe Vitale that precipitated the game-ending brawl.

However, any sort of payback will likely be put on hold. The Flyers figure they can still send a message through the scoreboard.

“Given the choice to beat the Penguins or lose to the Penguins, we wanna win,” Laviolette said. “The objective remains the same.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Jokinen leads Pens past struggling Kings

    Jonathan Quick’s Olympic goaltending audition for U.S. national team coach Dan Bylsma ended after three Pittsburgh goals in one rocky period.

    January 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • NHL Hockey: Crosby lifts Pens past Vancouver

    Sidney Crosby tied the score late in regulation and added the only goal in a shootout to rally the Pittsburgh Penguins past the slumping Vancouver Canucks 5-4 last night.

    January 8, 2014

  • penguins.jpg Penguins rally by weary Winnipeg, 6-5

    Evgeni Malkin scored twice in his return from injury and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-5 on Sunday afternoon.

    January 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Bruins snap skid against Pens with OT win

    The surging Boston Bruins said they weren’t fazed by Sidney Crosby’s last-second goal. They proved it in overtime. Torey Krug scored 34 seconds into OT and the Bruins beat Pittsburgh 4-3 yesterday night, snapping a seven-game, regular-season losing streak to the Penguins in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.

    November 26, 2013 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Pens erupt in third to down Ducks

    When Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma shuffled the lines in search of a spark for his slumping offense, putting Evgeni Malkin and rookie Brian Gibbons on the ice together wasn’t what he had in mind. Still, he’ll take it.

    November 19, 2013 1 Photo

  • NHL Hockey: Colorado shuts down Crosby, Pens

    Sidney Crosby left little doubt about who remains the best player from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. That’s fine by Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche. At the moment, they’ll settle for one of the best records in the NHL.

    October 22, 2013

  • NHL Hockey: Crosby, Pens stay hot, drop Oilers 3-2

    Evgeni Malkin stood in the right circle just watching the play unfold in front of him when the puck suddenly materialized on his stick with nary a soul around. The empty net never had a chance.

    October 16, 2013

  • Penguins Hockey: Crosby, Fleury lead Pittsburgh past Devils

    The Pittsburgh Penguins stuck with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the offseason, convinced two straight playoff meltdowns have not robbed the former Stanley Cup winner of his confidence. The early returns are promising.

    October 4, 2013

  • Kunitz.jpg Pens sign Kunitz to three-year extension

    Sidney Crosby will keep at least one linemate around for the long haul. The Pittsburgh Penguins and forward Chris Kunitz agreed to a three-year contract extension on Thursday that could keep him playing alongside Crosby until the 2016-17 season.

    June 28, 2013 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins sweep Pens out of playoffs

    The Bruins defense shut down the potent Pittsburgh Penguins throughout the Eastern Conference finals. Then a Boston defenseman scored the goal that sealed the stunning sweep.

    June 8, 2013 1 Photo

House Ads

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed “unprecedented” legislation yesterday to expand gun rights in his state. Good idea?

Yes. Expanding the scope of where people can carry guns can help halt violent crimes and make those places safer.
No. Carrying guns into bars and schools is NEVER a good idea. I think it will lead to more violence.
Not sure, but I don’t plan to visit Georgia any time soon.
     View Results