NHL season debuts with heated Flyers-Penguins rivalry in Philadelphia

Posted: January 19, 2013

Are the Flyers in the Pittsburgh Penguins' collective heads after scoring 30 goals against them in last year's defenseless, six-game playoff victory?

"I remember at different points, just kind of being in shock," Penguins star center Sidney Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Tribune. "A lot of different flashes go through my mind when I think about the series."

The Flyers will try to continue to frustrate the Penguins when the bitter archrivals open the season at 3 p.m. Saturday (NBC10) at the percolating Wells Fargo Center.

"It's going to be awesome. The energy in our building is going to be through the roof," Flyers winger Scott Hartnell said after the final day of training camp Friday in Voorhees.

"There's not a better team we'd like to play in the first game," said Claude Giroux, the Flyers' new captain.

Hartnell said it will feel "like the first game of the playoffs. You have to control that emotion and not let it get the best of you. If you take a stupid penalty, you'll deflate the whole crowd. I think it's going to be important to be focused and be ready, but keep it in check as well."

The Flyers-Penguins rivalry - arguably the fiercest in the NHL - doesn't need any stoking. But Hartnell did.

"It didn't take me long six years ago to get a hatred for the Pens," said Hartnell, referring to his first season with the Flyers. "Only playing them once in the West, then coming here and seeing Crosby run the show and do what he does, you learn to not like him fast. And I think that goes for all Philadelphians and guys that put on a Flyers jersey."

Crosby said the Penguins "didn't deserve to win" last year's wild playoff series against the Flyers, one in which goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a 4.63 goals-against average and .834 save percentage. "We didn't play well enough, all the way through."

On Saturday, they will try to start their Retribution Tour.

The Flyers will play 48 games - including 10 sets of back-to-back contests on consecutive days/nights - in 99 days.

"It's going to be 48 playoff games this year, plus the regular playoffs," Hartnell said.

Both teams have tweaked their rosters since they met last spring.

The Flyers will be without center Danny Briere (wrist injury) for a few games, and will have newcomers Scott Laughton - an 18-year-old rookie making the jump from juniors - Luke Schenn, Ruslan Fedotenko and Kurtis Foster in their lineup.

Based on Friday's final practice, here is how the Flyers' lines and pairings will look:

Lines: Giroux centering Hartnell and Brayden Schenn; Sean Couturier centering Max Talbot and Jake Voracek; Laughton centering Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read; and Eric Wellwood centering Fedotenko and Zac Rinaldo.

Defensive pairings: Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann; Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn; and Andrej Meszaros and Foster.

The goaltender, of course, will be Ilya Bryzgalov, who is trying to bounce back from an uneven season.

The Penguins made their biggest offseason move by sending center Jordan Staal to Carolina and getting promising young center Brandon Sutter as one of the players in the deal. Pittsburgh's lineup will also include Roxborough native Eric Tangradi, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder who is expected to be on a top line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

Pittsburgh is hoping to have Crosby for a full season. He played just 22 games last year as he battled concussion issues.

Crosby is in great shape, and some think he and Malkin (league-best 109 points last season) are the league's best players.

Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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