Game 51, Preview and Game Thread: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers

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#4 Pittsburgh Penguins (31-20-1, 63 pts) at #6 Philadelphia Flyers (26-21-3, 55 pts)
Wachovia Center - 12:30 PM ET - Philadelphia, PA
TV: NBC HD, TSN 2, RIS
Radio: 610 WIP
This is the open game thread.
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Alright, so get this. With a win in regulation today, the Flyers will have 57 points through 51 games. The Pittsburgh Penguins will have 63 points through 53 games. With wins in those two games in hand, the Flyers could sit just two points behind their currently 4th-seeded cross-state rivals.

This would've been a pipe dream oh, a month ago, but the Flyers solid 30 days of good hockey seem to be finally paying off. Of course, they can't let off the gas pedal any time soon and they must continue piling up points, as any tiny losing spell could push them dangerously off the playoff cliff.

And it's not like it gets easy with Pittsburgh coming in to town today. We know all about that team from across the state and we're more than aware that they're really good at hockey. What you may not know, however, is that they're apparently not so great when they play in afternoon contests. Frank from Pensburgh...

Of course, it always seems like the Penguins play subpar hockey during afternoon games.  This season the Pens have only played two games before 7pm, at 3:00 and 5:00 during their swing through Florida earlier this month, and took a loss in each outing.  Last season's afternoon record, as in games before 7pm,  was 6-10-1 (minus the 2:30pm start in Stockholm which was technically not an afternoon start).  Three of those were against the Flyers, in which Philly edged them out slightly with a 2-1 record.

Should that be a reason for optimism today? Consider that last time these teams played on NBC in the afternoon, the Flyers blew a three goal lead and their season in Game 6 last year.

It's likely, although it hasn't been announced officially, that Ray Emery will get another go today in the Philadelphia crease. He'll surely be challenged a lot more than he has been the last few games. Marc-Andre Fleury will likely be back in action on the Pittsburgh side for the first time since breaking a finger on January 14. That's certainly a welcome sight for them, as the Pens have allowed 16 goals in their three games without their star goaltender.

Max Talbot is out with a case of the Philadelphia flu.

It's a six game home winning streak on the line today in South Philadelphia for the orange and black. They might've had trouble getting up for yesterday's tilt with Carolina, but you can be sure that won't be the case today. Cue up the organ, because Crosby sucks... right?

After the jump, questions to answer, the starting lineups and goaltenders, and our in-game discussion.

One more quick note. The Pittsburgh media is also a joke. From today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review...

Matt Cooke fought Atlanta star Ilya Kovalchuk — not exactly the confrontational type — earlier this season. The circumstances in that altercation, though, were completely different. Kovalchuk actually sought out Cooke and dropped his gloves first, whereas Carcillo appeared to make something of a calculated effort to single out Gaborik.

Commence laughter... now. Oh, and **** Pittsburgh.

Flyers Line Combinations

Hartnell - Carter - Briere
Gagne - Richards - Powe
JVR - Giroux - Asham
Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere

Carle - Pronger
Coburn - Timonen
Tollefsen - Bartulis

Pittsburgh Line Combinations

Dupuis - Crosby - Guerin
Fedotenko - Malkin - Johnson
Cooke - Staal - Kennedy
Rupp - Adams - Godard

Gonchar - Orpik
McKee - Goligoski
Eaton - Letang

Starting Goaltenders


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Ray Emery 25 1446 14 9 67 2.78 683 616 .902 2


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Marc-Andre Fleury 41 2354 25 14 102 2.60 1106 1004 .908 0


Questions To Answer

  1. Will Fleury be shaky in goal today, his first game in over a week? Can the Flyers pepper him with shots and make him work early?
  2. Mike Richards was invisible yesterday. Can he not be so invisible today, and maybe even pick up his 100th NHL goal?
  3. How much ice time will Eric Godard see today?
  4. Can Chris Pronger keep his four game point streak in tact?
  5. Funniest sign in the building today?

Join the ever lovable NBC crew as they call today's game. Or, hit the mute button and try to sync up 610 WIP with the moving pictures. As always, join us here for the conversation, and LET'S GO FLYERS!

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