10 things about the Penguins

With Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby the Penguins are 6-2 in playoffs series when they have home ice.
With Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby the Penguins are 6-2 in playoffs series when they have home ice. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: April 09, 2012

WITH THE Flyers and Penguins set to square off this week in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, their intrastate rivalry has been the talk of the NHL.

After last Sunday's brawl culminated with Flyers coach Peter Laviolette nearly on the Pittsburgh bench, neither side has been shy in admitting that the bad blood is there.

Here are 10 things to know about the Penguins:

1 Evgeni Malkin: For the Penguins, it all starts with "Geno," the NHL's leading scorer and Hart Trophy favorite. He scored his 50th goal against the Flyers on Saturday and finished the regular season with 109 points. He has three goals and six assists in six games against the Flyers this season.

2 Sin bin: The Penguins tend to stay out of the box, ranking 19th in the league in penalty minutes. But that all changes when they play the Flyers. Pittsburgh's average of 10.73 penalty minutes jumps to more than 19 against the orange and black.

3 Philly West: Saturday's win over the Flyers didn't mean anything in the standings, but it was the first time the Pens have beaten Philly in the Consol Energy Center. The Flyers were 5-0 in the Penguins' new home. The Penguins were 29-10-2 overall at home this year.

4 Pascal Dupuis: The winger that they call "Duper" turned 33 on Saturday and has enjoyed a breakout season with 25 goals and 34 assists, both career highs. He enters the playoffs on a 17-game point streak. The only other Penguins to do that? Sidney Crosby (2007-08 and 2010-11) and Mario Lemieux (1991-92 and 1995-96).

5 Lighting the lamp: The Penguins lead the NHL in goals with an average of 3.33 per game. And since Crosby returned to the lineup on March 15, they have averaged a ridiculous 4.5 goals-per-game.

6 The Jagr factor: Historically, the greatest Penguin on the ice this week will be wearing a Flyers jersey. Jagr is second to Lemieux in nearly every major statistic in franchise history including games (806), goals (439), assists (640) and points (1,079).

7 Marc-Andre Fleury: Pittsburgh's netminder, second in the NHL in victories this year with 42, is tied atop the Pens' career wins list with Tom Barrasso at 226. The 27-year-old is 21-13-1 against the Flyers and usually sports a fleur-de-lis on the backplate of his mask.

8 Vitale the vicious: By now you know Joe Vitale as the Penguin who infamously flattened Danny Briere and coincidentally collided knees with Nicklas Grossmann, ending both of their regular seasons. The second-year forward is defensive-minded and worst of all, a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

9 Home ice: Despite the Flyers' success at the new igloo, the home-ice advantage likely makes Penguins the favorites in Vegas. The Crosby-Malkin era Pens are 6-2 in playoffs series in which they have home ice, including convincing series wins over the Flyers in the 2009 first round and 2008 conference finals.

10 Sidney Crosby: We saved the best (or worst) for last. Philly's favorite villain has played in 14 games since returning from his concussion issues in March. Despite what Rangers coach John Tortorella (or anyone else) thinks about the NHL's golden boy, with 25 points in those 14 contests, Crosby is scoring well above his average career clip. Sid the Kid is back.

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