Posted January 18, 2013 on AP on Fox
The NHL lockout only seemed to drag on such an interminable length that last season was a distant memory. The reality is, April was only nine months ago, not so long that it's too hard to remember who won the first-round playoff series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins-Flyers is a rivalry so big, it's kicking off NBC's season coverage Saturday in Philadelphia. It's an opener worthy of the spot. But the commercial, while highlighting stars Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux, missed one key part of the showdown: Philadelphia's six-game win over the Penguins in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. "Claude Giroux and the Flyers have their sights set on revenge for last season's playoff loss to Pitt!" the voiceover said. Ah, not so fast. Yes, the Flyers ended yet another season without hoisting the Stanley Cup, extending a championship drought that dates to 1975. But they did knock off the Penguins before they were eliminated the next round in five games by the eventual conference-champion New Jersey Devils. They'll likely have to get by the Penguins and Devils again - and the Rangers, for that matter - if they want to reach the finals for the first time in three years. Led by Giroux, named team captain this week, and a roster that returns mostly intact, the Flyers (47-26-9) believe they have the talent to make another deep run in the postseason. In fact, when owner Ed Snider was asked this week if he had any area of concern entering this season, he was firm in his assessment: "No." Even die-hard fans may not agree with the founder, though. With Chris Pronger unlikely to ever play again following multiple concussions and Matt Carle gone via free agency, the Flyers' blue line took a big hit. Andrej Meszaros (right Achilles' tendon) isn't ready to go and there's no telling if the 37-year-old Kimmo Timonen, coming off back surgery, can hold up in a short season. Snider is counting on the defense to support goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. "I really believe that we'll tighten up a little bit to help him out," he said. "I think he's a darn good goalie." Bryzgalov was all over the map, with his play and personality, in his first season with the Flyers. He never quite warmed to hockey-mad Philadelphia, and even his own teammates were often left wondering what the Russian was really all about. In the postseason, Bryzgalov had a 3.46 goals-against average, partially because of the wild, high-scoring series against the Penguins. The Flyers turned every period into a defense-optional shootout, one that exploited Pittsburgh's inability to commit itself at the end of the ice where goalie Marc-Andre Fleury works. Philadelphia had a 30-26 scoring edge over the six games, numbers more fitting of the local rec league than the sometimes brutal two-month slog to the Stanley Cup. The Penguins know that for all the firepower the game's most explosive lineup provides, if they don't shore things up on defense they'll be home well before the calendar hits June. "You have to learn from that stuff," forward Pascal Dupuis said. "We'll try to take the positives from (Philadelphia) and try to build off it." Given all of a week to put a roster together, don't expect coach Dan Bylsma to make drastic changes on a team that finished a middling 17th in goals allowed last season. On most nights, a lineup that features reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin and a finally healthy Crosby doesn't need to play lights-out defense to win. Just a little, though, could go a long way to helping the Penguins earn an easier road through the playoffs. Pittsburgh (51-25-6) narrowly missed out on winning the Atlantic Division title, the difference between being the top seed in the postseason or dropping to fourth and facing its archrivals. The Penguins did little to address the defense with personnel during the offseason outside of trading Zbynek Michalek back to Phoenix. Pittsburgh also traded for goaltender Tomas Vokoun to help take some of the burden off Fleury to carry the team through the 99-day, 48-game regular season. The issue, the Penguins insist, is execution, not a lack of talent. Kris Letang is considered a Norris Trophy candidate and Brooks Orpik provides steady leadership from the blue line. They still believe Paul Martin is worth his hefty $5 million contract. Having two of the best players on the planet healthy and in their prime helps, too. Malkin is coming off a career year in which he led the NHL with 109 points while Crosby is nearly a year removed from his latest bout with concussion-like symptoms. The 25-year-old superstar also has the peace of mind that comes from signing a 12-year contract extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh until he's nearly middle age. Yet that sense of security doesn't mean there's also a lack of urgency. He spent the better part of two years away from the game. It's time to get going. "We've got high expectations," Crosby said. "That's the way it's always going to be with our team and that's the way we want it to be." This matchup seems like the perfect way to get things started. "It's going to be real easy to get up for that game," Giroux said. "Just thinking about it gets me excited."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

NBC commercial claims Penguins eliminated Flyers in last year's playoffs (Video)

An NBC commercial promoting the NHL season opener between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers got its facts mixed up by claiming that the Penguins defeated the Flyers in last year's playoffs. The ad sells the game with this: Sid "The Kid" (Crosby) and the Penguins face off with rival Philly...and Claude Giroux and the Flyers have their sights set on revenge...

Philly fans return as lockout ends

The Pittsburgh Penguins needed about seven minutes to make the Wells Fargo Center as quiet as the other 29 NHL arenas the past three months with goals by Tyler Kennedy and James Neal. Despite the lockout that threatened the season, Philadelphia Flyers fans, eventually, made their presence known. This place was sold out for a 3-1 Penguins victory, one of 13 games that kicked off...

NBC gets Stanley Cup Playoffs results wrong during promo

The NHL is back, and NBC is putting the full court press with advertisements for this weekend's slate of games on NBC and NBC Sports Network, including the above promo for the Penguins-Flyers game that will air regionally on NBC. In the voiceover, there is a mention made of Claude Giroux and the Flyers having their sights set on revenge for last season's playoff loss...

Here is a GIF of Brooks Orpik destroying some AHL jobber

Full recap in the morning. Orpik looks like he has a chip on his shoulder: gif via GarageLeague Tumblr

Almosts and miscues spoil new captain Giroux’s stellar effort

Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images By Charlie O’Connor (@THG_Charlie) Down 2-1 in the third period of the season opener against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, new Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux skated in on Marc-Andre Fleury all alone, courtesy of a rinkwide saucer pass from linemate Scott Hartnell. Instead, a barely-audible whistle blew, signifying the only...

Penguins 3, Flyers 1

PHILADELPHIA - Tyler Kennedy and James Neal scored in a span of 2:40 in the first period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 Saturday afternoon in a rematch of a 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals series. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 shots to win his 227th game, passing Tom Barrasso for first place on Pittsburgh's all-time list. The teams kicked...

Previewing the Pittsburgh Penguins

The lockout is over and training camps have concluded.  It's time to get back to playing games. The Penguins enter this season as one of the Stanley Cup favorites for the fifth year in a row.  Their first year as contenders, the Penguins lost to the Red Wings, followed by a Stanley Cup win in Detroit in 2009.  The last three seasons have been utter disappointments, two of...

Penguins take opener from Flyers

Tyler Kennedy and James Neal scored goals to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 on Saturday. Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers in the first game for both teams since the end of the 113-day NHL lockout. Chris Kunitz added an empty-netter in the final seconds for the Penguins. About 20,000 fans filled the Wells Fargo Center and they were welcomed back...

Daily Buzz: Chip Introduced; Flyers Give Giroux His Moment

Image courtesy of the Associated Press Although Thursday wasn't nearly as exciting as Wednesday was, there is always something to talk about when it comes to Philly sports. As we all know, the Eagles introduced Chip Kelly as their new head coach.  If you missed the press conference, here is the complete transcript. (Philadelphia Eagles) In the baseball world, Phillies shortstop...

Some intel on Suttertron from a Canes fan

We got to talking on Twitter with a Hurricanes fan who has closely followed Brandon Sutter's career.  We asked her to give us as much information as possible on Sutter, and she has answered the bell.  Great read: Brandon Sutter was meant to be a franchise player in the Carolina Hurricanes organization. Canes General Manager Jim Rutherford once called Sutter one of...

Penguins fly past Philadelphia 3-1

As any of us that were watching the game, and stomping around the living room, throwing our hats at the tv, spittin’ & a’cussin as we were put on hold for another half hour or so, my face lit up like a kid at Christmas at 3:35 pm EST, when The Pittsburgh Penguins’ season officially [...]

Video: The Flyers are seeking revenge on the Penguins for last years playoff loss! Wait, what?!?

The NHL is off to a great start! The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins are set to face one another in a “rematch” of last year’s insane playoff series in which the Flyers won in six games. Someone at NBC obviously didn’t pay attention to that detail. Ah, screw it! HOCKEY’S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

NBC Is Just Making Up NHL History As They Go

The NHL needs a “previously on” recap before games, I guess.Hockey’s been gone so long, even the networks airing hockey games don’t remember what happened the last time the NHL was in season. They know the Kings won the Stanley Cup. Their logo has a basketball on it for some reason, right? They know Wayne Gretzky’s daughter has an Instagram account and a fantastic body...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.