Since the 2006-2007 season including playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins are 23-10 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Pittsburgh moved to 3-0 against Philadelphia this season after Thursday night’s 3-2 shootout win at the Wachovia Center.
The Flyers are free falling, currently in last place in the Atlantic Division as Pittsburgh is an astounding 17 pts ahead of Philadelphia in the standings. With the Christmas Trade Freeze starting tomorrow, Philadelphia is working the phones trying to put some deals in place after December 27th. As expected there were 10+ scouts in attendance for last night’s game.
*Sidney Crosby has gone from an average goal scorer at best to an elite goal scorer in less than a year. I’ve never seen him get the kind of velocity he had on his second period goal against Philadelphia last night. Crosby is second in the league in goals with 22.
*Scouts tell me Chris Kunitz has the look of a player who has absolutely no confidence in his shot.
He’s over-thinking in the offensive zone and the vibe I get from talent evaluators is that Kunitz is a better fit with a player like Jordan Staal than a Sidney Crosby.
*A source tells me Max Talbot is embarrassed by being a healthy scratch for two straight games and that he barely watched either game. Instead, he was working out.
Talbot has been told he will return to the lineup Saturday night against Buffalo. The Flyers decision to scratch Riley Cote did not prompt Dan Bylsma to alter his lineup last night.
Inside the Atlantic Division
With the mid-point of the NHL season upon us, the Atlantic division has the look of being a two team race the rest of the way.
Pittsburgh (49pts) and New Jersey (47pts) are the class of the Atlantic division and both teams are going to be in a neck and neck race in the final 45+ games.
The Rangers (33 pts), like Philadelphia (32pts) are free falling. For the first time in his tenure, general manager Glenn Sather is finally on the hot seat.
His fate is tied to his ability to waive Wade Redden. There has been pressure from Rangers executives to waive Redden but Sather doesn’t want to admit his mistakes.
The Rangers have already been going through backchannels exploring a possible firing of Sather.
*The Flyers are prepared to make major changes. They have been one of the most active teams in trade talks. Unlike the Rangers, they have assets to move. I’m not ready to write off Philadelphia just yet.
The Rangers are what they are; a borderline playoff team that could steal a game or two because of Marian Gaborik and their goaltending.
The surprise in the division has been the New York Islanders (33 pts). When will they fall back to the pack is the major question surrounding the Islanders.
The Islanders have been tough out but regardless of whether their in playoff contention in February, management won’t move prospects or draft picks for a quick fix. They are going to stay on their path of building through the draft.