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Game Preview: Pens look to solve Bobrovsky in second matchup of the season

Penguins Game Day

Pittsburgh Penguins (2-3-0) @ Philadelphia Flyers (2-1-1)
When: October 16, 2010 | Where: Wells Fargo Center
The Penguins meet the Philadelphia Flyers for the second time this young season, this time in Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. The Pens are 5-1 in Philadelphia in their last six trips (five consecutive wins), including a 3-0 mark last season. The Flyers hold the Atlantic Division lead by one point over the Penguins and New York Islanders.
The game has been moved to 6:08 to accommodate the NLCS series between the Phillies and San Francisco Giants, which opens at eight o’clock in Philadelphia.

DIVISION PLAY

The Pens are 2-3-0 this season, a shaky start for a season that began with tremendous expectations. Injuries and inconsistent play have marred the Penguins efforts so far.
Nonetheless, the Penguins’ two wins have come against division opponents. The Pens are 2-1 in Atlantic Division play so far.
The Flyers, 2-1-1 overall, won their only divisional game this season, the opener against the Penguins.
A regulation win for Pittsburgh could potentially put them in first place in the Atlantic, despite the struggles so far. Philadelphia has played one less game than the Pens.
The Islanders also make their bid for a division-leading six points tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.

POWERLESS PLAY

The Penguins are 4-28 on the man-advantage this season. That’s a less-than whopping 14.3 percent success rate, and 19th in the NHL.
Pittsburgh went 1-8 on the power play last night, getting their lone tally on Alex Goligoski’s overtime winner.
Philadelphia, whose success usually depends on the success of their special teams, is surprisingly dismal through four games. Philadelphia is 1-17 this year (5.9 percent), 28th overall.
Philadelphia’s lone man-advantage goal came against the Penguins opening night.

DEFENSE

Saturday’s matchup should be a battle of defenses.
Philadelphia will have defenseman Chris Pronger in the lineup for this game. Pronger sat out the first match with the Penguins while still recovering from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Flyers are 6th in the league in goals against (2.3 per game), their penalty killing unit ranked 5th (91.3 percent).
The Penguins allowed more than three goals only once this year and have not been outshot through five games.
However, Pittsburgh’s goals against average has dipped to 17th overall (2.6 per game) and the penalty kill, missing its top three components in Brooks Orpik, Zbynek Michalek and Jordan Staal, has fallen to 14th overall (83.3 percent).

HOT HANDS

Alex Goligoski is the Penguins’ leading goal scorer (3) through five games and is tied for the team lead with 5 points. Paul Martin (1G, 4A) has also led the Penguins’ scoring attack.
Goligoski is also tied for the team lead with a plus-3 rating.
Mark Letestu leads all forwards with four points (2G, 2A).
For Philadelphia, Danny Briere continues to show signs of delivering on the big contract he signed a few years ago, leading the team with three goals in four games and tied with five other players with 3 points.
Mike Richards leads the team with 3 assists.
Philadelphia’s scoring is coming from its balanced forward attack. The Flyers may have the deepest top three forward lines in the league.
Matt Carle (2A) is the only Flyers defenseman with a point this season.

Physical Play

Pittsburgh-Philadelphia is always a bruising matchup. In the unfriendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center, the Pens might do well to forget the pretty passing plays and hit everything that moves.
Despite Philadelphia’s reputation for pugilism, Pittsburgh leads the league in hits (131).
Matt Cooke leads the league in hits on goaltenders, landing three goaltender interference penalties in Friday’s win over the Islanders.

PLAY UGLY

The second of back-to-back tilts are always tough. Playing a solid road game – puck control, tight defense, conservative passing – is the key to winning.
The Penguins seized momentum last night when they sent people to the net and gobbled up rebounds. Mike Rupp’s goal came off a rebound from a slap shot which resulted from Mark Letestu outworking the Islanders backcheckers. Nothing pretty about it.
Eric Tangradi earned his first NHL goal by throwing the puck at the net and playing a little pinball.
There are no points for style. The Pens need to throw pucks at the net and get into the face of young goaltender Bobrovsky.

GOALTENDING

The Pens get the youngster again. Sergei Bobrovsky beat Pittsburgh in his NHL debut, holding them to 2 goals on 31 shots (though they missed some glorious chances.)
Bobrovsky is 2-0 on the season. He has allowed two goals in each of his starts (2 GAA, .931 SV%). His other win came against Colorado, a home win.
Head Coach Dan Bylsma was non-committal about who would start the game for the Pens. It is uncommon for a goalie to get back-to-back starts.
Brent Johnson, should he go again, is 2-0-0 on the season (1.48 GAA, .945 SV%).
Marc-Andre Fleury, despite the rough start, has fared well in Philadelphia. Fleury is 19-7 in Philadelphia in his career, including a pair of 45-save wins since 2005.

INJURIES

The song remains the same for the Penguins. Orpik, Michalek, Staal and Asham remain out.
Goaltender Michael Leighton (back) and forward Ian Lapiererre (concussion) are out indefinitely for the Flyers. Defenseman Matt Walker is day-to-day with a groin injury but could be sidelined indefinitely as reportedly Walker may need surgery.

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